Monday, September 22, 2014


A really interesting article on rewilding. Usual nonsense from the Angling Trust towards the bottom of the piece.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Soft solution to a Hard problem

So encouraging to see an holistic solution, especially when it would be so much 'easier' to dredge and concrete. An awesome landscape should evolve,

An interesting article from the Guardian,

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The best fish of the year

The fact that, at the time of writing, it is the only fish of the year is entirely beside the point! It is this little grayling that confirms that I can still be considered a fly angler, rather than someone who spends too much time thinking about fishing and very little time doing.

The river looks absolutely splendid,


In terms of the shoulder - one more operation and more physio to go....

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cork Handle Part Two

So as promised, ages ago, the next step in the creation of the cork handle. In Part One I had already inletted the grip for the reel seat, prior to turning. To manage this, while turning I have to build up the mandrel to stop the inlet from misbehaving - this is done with some electrical tape;

In this next photo you can see my crude lathe set up, perfectly adequate for turning cork;

Now ready to start on the cork. First step is to turn the cork to a rough cylinder, using a surform. It is always handy to have the template on hand for reference;

OK, done with the surform;

Rough shaping with a file now,

And then onto progressively finer sandpaper,

Until finished;

Nice to get this completed with no major dramas!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On (Not) Fishing

I am not fishing, not by design I hasten to add. I broke my collarbone, playing rugby, in early April and the subsequent operation that I have had to insert various ironwork means that I am in a sling until the end of the month; at the earliest. I am left handed, no prizes for guessing which collarbone I broke.  And then I will commence on physio, which threatens to be pretty much the most painful part of the process. And to top it all off there will be another operation before the end of this year to remove the ironwork.

So all in all how do I feel about this? Pretty crap really. It looks as though most of the season is going to be compromised by my recovery and rehabilitation. At this time my elbow has not been above chest height in six weeks and given that the human body works on a use it or lose it basis I am expecting very little movement in the short term and that casting will be painful. My favoured approach to fishing is immersive and intimate. Small streams basically, i.e. the type of fishing least accessible to those without a full range of movement. What am I missing the most? 

That word immersive is important. Ultimately fishing is the only activity I perform that takes me away from it all, to another place where all I am doing is interacting with a dynamic environment whilst wrestling with a continually changing range of inputs whilst trying to gull a wild creature. 

But I know that this is a temporary hiatus, patience is required, I will be back before too long. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Cork Handle Part One

I had hoped to do this in one go but a broken collarbone has incapacitated me somewhat. I am pretty much housebound for the next 5 weeks, I can't even tie flies.So this post is part one, more to follow when I have mended.

So I had previously glued and clamped the rings to a threaded rod. The grip is made up of a mixture of half and quarter inch rings for no other reason than I had to mix and match to make up the handle length,

Inletting grips has caused me major headaches in the past. My solution now is to inlet the ring prior to the glue / clamp process. This presents other challenges when turning the handle on the lathe, more on that in part two,

This grip is destined for a 7'6" fibreglass blank and I want an unfussy cigar style handle. So the following template is designed to keep me on track,

In terms of the grip dimension I have used the handle on an existing rod as my guide and have cut out a gauge to help me with the initial turning of the handle,

You can see from the following that I am not intending to remove too much from the cork cylinder,

Next step will be to chuck this up in my drill lathe and get turning, initially shaping with a surform and then using progressively finer sandpaper to produce the finished handle.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fishing Fast and Slow

This is an interesting book, hugely thought provoking. The foundation of this is work is the way in which humans both think and make decisions, the assertion being that we are governed by two modes of thinking, ‘System 1’ and ‘System 2’. System 1 thinking is rapid, subconscious, automated and emotional. System 2 thinking is slow, conscious, calculating and logical. 

Consequently most of the decisions that humans make are rooted in System 1. Simply put this is the most efficient decision making process that we possess and it is informed by our own experience and history. On the flip side we avoid System 2 thinking because it is an inherently inefficient process which consumes a huge amount of mental resource.

What has this got to do with fishing? Well on reflection if I am visiting a known stretch of water at a given time of year my subconscious has already started to inform the key decisions in terms of what to expect, where to fish and what fly to use. Sure I may think that I will get to the water and take in all the available variables to come to a rational and informed decision but I am now pretty much convinced that this is not the case. Rather my decision to turn up, sniff the air and fish is doing little other than confirming my own subconscious bias. Hell, most years my first fish of the season comes from the same lie, in the same pool, to a very similar non-descript emerger pattern.

So having acknowledged this what to do about it? First thing to note is that my System 1 decision making is not all bad, I catch my share of fish. Rather the question is what am I missing out on by not engaging System 2 and what can I do to rectify this? I guess the most straightforward answer would be to always be fishing totally new water. In reality this is not feasible (for me)but it would be totally achievable to fish my available water in a different way, for example fishing parts of the water I have skimmed over before, starting from new points, ignoring known lies. But I think that the single biggest thing that I can do is to try and avoid my subconscious bias by not making any decsions unbidden.

In short I may need to become the Contemplative Angler.  

Friday, January 24, 2014

'Always' and 'Never'

I vaguely remember reading an essay by Brian Clarke in one of his anthologies that argued that the terms ‘Always’ and ‘Never’ have no place in angling other than in a very few examples, for example, an angler should always have a rod licence. Mr Clarke’s central thrust was that we should not be too hidebound by tradition and the ways in which things have always been done if we want to extend our skills and experience.

However it is important that we acknowledge these traditions and simply have to accept that on some fisheries there are rules and restrictions. Sometimes these rules and restrictions are in place to protect the fishery. For example on the Peacock water of the Derbyshire why there is a strict ‘dry fly only’ rule in place during the trout season. Which patterns of fly adhere to this local dry fly rule has been the subject of extensive online debate! On the Peacock water this rule is adopted to afford the fish some sanctuary when they are not feeding at the surface of the water. An alternative example would be that some waters do not allow wading. Consequently there are stretches in these waters where the fish cannot be reached from the bank.

So an angler should always adhere to the rules and regulations of the water that they are visiting. If you don’t like the rules then fish elsewhere. Angling is a fairly broad church and you will always be able to find a water that will accommodate your desires.

In terms of never then I have always felt that one should never fish without a landing net. This is crucially important when intending to release fish and the landing net is the single item of tackle that will enable you to bring your catch in a soon as possible without having to ‘play out’ the fish. The mesh netting then enables the angler to handle the fish in the optimum manner and the hook removed and the fish returned. I really do not like seeing anglers without nets as they try to bring the fish to hand or use one of those infernal release tools. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

A whole year to play with

Despite some slight irritation at the limitation of the 2013 five fly limit I must admit that I did, on the whole, enjoy the clarity of thought that only carrying such a small range of patterns imposed upon me. Perhaps there is an inner Puritan in me trying to get out.

 I have to say that in the main it was liberating to be forced into making a quick selection from the available flies, although I did manage, on a couple of occasions to fall into the ‘paralysis by analysis’ trap even with only the five patterns available. I am however convinced that my actual fishing success was not adversely impacted in any way at all. So really I am railing against the lack of liberty at the tying vice, an activity I claim not to really enjoy. I do, it has to be said, have a very low boredom threshold so I really think I was railing against an inability to go off piste.

So I want to be able to be creative at the vice, to alleviate the boredom, but to also continue to challenge myself to create a range of flies from some self imposed handicap. So this year I will be tying only from the following five materials,

  • CDC
  • Hares mask
  • Deer hair
  • Pheasant tail
  • Stripped quill

Given that a scruffiest hares ear emerger presented correctly would probably account for the bulk of trout that have ever swum I don’t feel the above list is particularly prescriptive but it should be fun to tie and fish with the results of the above ‘recipe’.

And I have made a promise to myself to fish a little bit more this year.