Thursday, 29 April 2010

Evening stint

Quick evening stint on the Alyn just above the straight cut. Two hours for the one fish pulled from amongst the tree roots.

Beaded PTN strikes again

Monday, 26 April 2010

Time for Garlic lovers

Spent a morning on the Alyn at Worms Wood. There is that much wild garlic growing in the wood, that after putting the wet wading boots in the car, I can still smell the stuff this morning.
This was one of those sessions where the Tenkara really proved its worth. Worms Wood is very, well, 'woody'. I setup with my now standard searching duo rig: #16 olive para emerger and #16 copper bead PTN.

The dynamic team

No matter what hook pattern/size you use, those lips are so delicate

My new Level lines are proving invaluable in their ability to be held off the water (cheers Chris Stewart) thus enabling long drag free drifts, especially downstream of me into those 'holes' under the trees. Most of the takes were directly across or across and down of me and I'd argue that I would never have achieved this presentation with a conventional rod.

The unfortunate thing about the sesssion was that 8 of 10 fish were out of season Grayling. All a cracking 12" - 14" in length. I'm not sure they have spawned yet, as although ravenous, they were in great condition. Otherwise one Trutta of 10" and one smolting trout. Lost numerous fish also, assumed to be Grayling. No shows to the dry, all taken on the PTN and only one rise seen. A great mornings fishing for only 2 eligible fish!

Ready for another session

Monday, 19 April 2010

Off crutches

My nephew Neil took up fly fishing around eighteen months ago. After only managing two river trips (including one where he caught the biggest Alyn Grayling I have witnessed) he ruptured some knee ligaments whilst martial arting. After a couple of operations and a miserable time on crutches, he was finally fit enough for some bank scrambling and wading on the lower Alyn.
Neil hasn't caught on or fished dry fly on the river before, so today[Sunday] was hopefully the day.
I rigged Neil up with my small brook rod (Tenkara in back pocket for later) and we practiced a few casts upstream on a bare stretch. Once Neil looked confident with his casting again, on went a #16 emerging grannom imitation. There were lots about.

Neil above potentially 'lining' his target. Once he grasped the technique of twisting his wrist, clockwise here, at the point of delivery to eliminate he was naturally in the groove
As we were on a narrow part of the river I began demonstrating how to quickly mend the line to one side when casting upstream so avoinding lining, when first cast a 30cm grayling rose unexpectedly and smashed into the emerger. Neil was amazed and was itching to try.
He took the rod and we made our way upstream. After about ten yards he moved a lovely looking brown, but alas being over anxious, struck too early. Five yards later, and he was in. Well sort of. The first of about a dozen suicidal salmon parr pounced. He fished a few more pools, rightly or wrongly covering some decent Grayling that could be seen. None of them moved upwards and it was becoming apparent that even though Grannom were still hatching, and even one or two Hawthorn's could be seen floating over, there was a distint lack of rises. Other than the persistent salmon parr.
I suggested we may have to change to a nymph setup, so dismantled the 'rod' and presented the fetched the Tenkara from my back pocket. Neil laughed, saying "How small are the rod rings for it to collapse into such a short length?"
"Just watch and learn"
The Tenkara was setup with a duo rig. I still so wanted Neil to get something worthwhile off the top.
The first glide Neil tried with the T and whallop. 30cm of Grayling pounced on the dry. It was quite comical watching Neil handle a fixed 16' cast on 12' of rod. This is another area where the dynamics of the T's action are defined. Holding the rod at full stretch and pointing slightly over the shoulder, a fish quickly surrenders and glides head up to the net.
A couple of casts later and another takes the PTN.

The day ended with eight Grayling mixed amongst the parr. Alas only one Trutta moved and missed. A beautiful day, the first Hawthorns spotted and even a Lamprey.

Level line attack

After analysing last Sunday's drag woes, an order for some level Tenkara leaders was placed on Tuesday. After picking them up from the local sorting office on Friday (missed the initial delivery), I made cut a couple of lengths to match the Tenkara's 12'. The level lines currently available from TenkaraUSA look a garish pink when coiled on their spools but once unwound and fitted they give a more non fish scaring pastelised appearence. Believe me, having a leader you can see helps when your casting in the confines of treelined streams. A few practice casts on the lawn Friday evening and things were set for trialing on Saturday morning.
Now a busy family schedule on Saturday mean't I had to sneak out to Llay road bridge early. I arrived on the river bank at 07.00 to a ground frost and zero degrees C. Mmmm! This mornings mission was to test the dry fly presentation with the level leaders, so on went a #20 olive parachute and into the water I ventured.
Simon's custom furles turn over for fun, and flatter a my poor technique, however the 10lb level flouro leaders are not as forgiving. The first couple of lazy casts never really got beyond a crumpled heap around the rod tip. The level line really needs you to utilise the Tenkara's dynamics. A very short casting arc is required where the 'flick' tip powers the leader forward after a good stop. Simply put 12 till 2 and stop. Taking an upstream approach, once the fly and leader had landed I proceeded, to lift the rod tip to raise as much line off the water as I dared. With the still conditions this morning, I could lift approx 15' of line off the water without inflicting any drag on the fly. Fantastic. So walking upstream I negotiated the various pools and runs I faced. I could present the dry amazingly drag free where the canopy allowed. One thing now became apparent was the fact that I was probably using too long a leader, so I simply snipped 18" off and refastened to the rod tip. This simplified things, and enabled casting in the close confines simpler and quicker.
An hour passed and, not that I really expected any in the cold, no rises. So I reset with a #16 parachute and a PTN 3' below. The last two pools produced a small 6" brown in each.

The #10 level line made dry fly presentation very delicate and very simple. The early morning conditions were very still and I do feel that any semblance of a breeze will test me with this setup. So, the #15 line is setup and in reserve.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Perfect turnover woes

How many of you have 'suffered', from perfect turnover? You know where line - leader - tippet present themselves so straight that any difference in flow causes your dry to drag instantly. This was the issue during the latest Tenkara trip.
Dropped in on the lower Alyn at Ithell's Bridge, expecting it to be relatively quiet. So I slid down the flood defense banks into a narrow run below the island. The Alyn in its lowest reaches is actually narrower that further upstream. The canalised sections limit the width to around 10-12' across.
A few olives and caddis were coming off, and one particular fishy fellow was rising regularly above me.
The Tenkara was set up with a #16 olive parachute on a short dropper, and a 16 olive hares ear on the point 3' below. Casting directly upstream I covered the area where the rises were seen and was instantly rewarded with this little fellow taking the dry.

Great start, and another followed in the pacy water coming around the island. I therefore clipped the nymph off the point and trasferred the parachute to the point. On moving to the next small pool another fish could be seen rising. Covered with the olive but no interest. Changed to a #16 Cul d Canon and first cover bang. A 20cm Grayling obliged. Things were looking promising as I slowly made my way upstream adjacent to the sheep pen, but from this point on I hardly saw another rise. On rounding the slight bend at the end of the sheep run I encountered another angler sitting on the bank setting up. Ah well, pity. I'll just have to climb out and move upstream to the S bend, knowing full well that these pools had already been fished. It was now that I thought I would have to go a tad smaller. The bright conditions and the fishing pressure that may have been put on the remaining pools over the last hour, passed another angler walking downstream on the opposite bank, rightly or wrongly told me to.
As strategically mentioned, the river can be quite narrow around here and with 12' of Iwana in my hand, most of my casting was directly upstream. To my disillusionment the cast make up was turning over perfectly. Perfect being a straight line. I would get maybe six inches to a foot of drift of my #20 olive before it was dragged. I just couldn't seem to get things to collapse to my satisfaction. If I was using my conventional brook rod, a little more line could have been put out and some mends/wiggles put in. Unfortunatley, with the Tenkara, you don't have this extra line to manipulate. This issue just 'got in my head'. Then to cap it off, as I was quicky working my through some smaller pools, I noticed another angler 'hogging' the next best pool upstream. Hogging was spending about 10 minutes with hardly moving his feet. Maybe there was a fish there he was trying to entice, but if he knows this part of the river like I do he should cover-catch-move on. Especially when there are other anglers on the water.
So what started out as a promising day, seemed to become quite frustrating. Fantastic day to be out nonetheless, and even got a bit of a tan.

So, what did I learn today:
Well, if I am going back on the lower Alyn again I think the Tenkara will be in reserve. Whilst the Tenkara appeared to handle the larger dries used today, when attempting to hold the leader off the water it was all too easy to drag a small dry. The larger fly seemed to grip the surface, and unnatural induced movement was minimised.
We are still learning the Tenkara art, but this lesson seems to strengthen my feeling that leader choice on the day is very important. Conditions were very still today[Sunday], so perhaps I should have used a shorter furled leader and a longer tippet. Anyway, always good to take something home to think about. It improves us don't you think?

Simon put me on to this as a suggestion for things to do with the family. Its essentially outdoor treasure hunting. Great way to get out and reccy new water.
Therefore I took Mandy and Jack out around Llangollen on Saturday to try it out. Great family fun, and what with the ability to fit the Tenkara and small box of flies in the backpack, you may never miss an opportunity to whet the appetite.
Anyway, if any of you have iPhones or portable sat nav's check out the website. You'll probably find some cache locations very close to where you live or fish.
I think there could be potential here for some Fly swap caches adjecent ot some of our waters. I'll get Simon's opinion on this

Here's Jack and myself uncovering one of the caches of the day.

and Mandy's favorite wild primroses were everywhere

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Stir crazy tying

After the advent of BST signalled the heavy rain this week, I was confined to catching up on odd jobs interspersed with a bit of tying.

The previous Sunday I had the priviledge to spend a day with Philip White. Philip has nine basic patterns to cover the emerging stages and further of our upwings. So, here are two of them

Loop Wing Emerger
Thread: 8/0 Olive Wisp used here
Shucking body: Mallard flank (bronzed is best)
Wing: 2 X natural CDC feathers
Thorax: Olive hares ear used here.
Most of the body is tied to represent emergence from the shuck. The tips of the Mallard are tied in about half way down the hook shank, then the butts wound to the bend to represent the shuck. What isn't too apparent from this picture is the use of the CDC tips, at the tie in point, are left slightly protruding over the shuck body to represent the 'split' back.

Thorax Dun
Thread: 8/0 Olive Wisp
Shucking body: Mallard as above
Hackle: Blue Dun used here, although I have tied several using Olive dyed grizzle
Wing: Bronze Mallard flank tips
Thorax: SLF River and stream

The body is wound as the loop wing above.
Tie these two patterns in sizes down to #22

Whilst at the bench also tied a few more emergers all using waxed Pearsalls (#5 I think)...

Cul De Canon with sighter

Olive Parachute well as a couple of miscellaneous items.

Sponge Bob Bod Caddis

One Feather F-Fly

The F-fly is from a suggestion by Phil White, where instead of using the CDC tips for the wing, the butts are used. The method here is to cut the thick butt off at the point where the feather barbs start. Tie in by the tip and pull through until you feel the stem butt, bump through the thread wrap. With just the one feather on a #20 - #22 you can tie in by the tip for the body, and wind along the hook shank. Cut off then use the remainder for the wing. Simplezzzz. Short tail is a couple of barbs of Mallard, Teal or any barred feather.