Thursday, 19 August 2010

Sat 7th August: ASGA

Another of Steve James' opportunities arose in that we joined Louis Noble's Advanced School of Game Angling (ASGA) for a day on the Dee at Maelor. Steve secured four rods with Louis in what turned out to be a most informative trip.
The session covered quite a broad spectrum of methods from Czech Nymphing through Duo and dry fly to Spey casting with wets.

From L-R: John, Yours Truely, Keith, Simon and Louis

Our initial kick sampling proved  a little disappointing in its yield. A small selection of stonefly nymphs with one or two 3 tailed upwings nymphs, cassed caddis and caddis pupa were analysed. It never ceases to amaze me how bright some pupating caddis are; 'eat me' in neon green. Naturally [pun intended] the kick sampling evolved into imitations and setup for Czech Nymphing with Louis demonstrating his tactical wading approach.

L-R: Steve, YT and Louis pre kick sample

A move to setups and how to fish the duo was followed by lunch. During which Simon demonstrated his Tenkara setup for nymphing. John, as open minded as ever and always one to attract fish, willingly took the rod from Simon and into the river he went. After half a dozen or so casts, he is a magnet, an 8oz Grayling obliged (another coup for Tenkara Promotions Ltd.). It was quite funny watching him wrestle the fish with 12' of T and 16' of leader/tippet. If you are experiencing T for the first time without instruction this can be quite tricky.

CZN demo

Post lunch and Louis' spider fishing session. His own goto spider setup consists of four spider patters on an 11.5' cast. The make up of the leader has become quite critical to enable good tangle free turnover and is effectively a weight forward leader where the first third tapers up in diameter before tapering down the point. The secret recipe is in my pocket;). The cast is fished across and down which, although some of us may question, Louis assures catches a very large volume of good fish. If the rod is held high and tracked with the current a series of dead drifts across the river can be acheived. When one drift has drifted out do not be afraid to raise the rod up again, even if the team pulls from the water and then drift down again. Keep this until on the dangle below. The leader setup alone does not prevent tangles, but a double spey cast is absolutely necessary especially with the Dee's prevailing downwinder. So when on the dangle the spey cast (which just changes direction to across again) keeps the cast straight and tangle free.
The setup is best coupled with a double taper line matching the weight of a minimum 10' rod. A 3 or 4 weight. This is incredibly simple and pleasurable one handed fishing.

YT completing the cast. Error here is in not driving the tip down low enough to prevent downstream bows and extra line mending

Another subtlty that becomes apparent is to hold the rod butt low and tip high when getting towards dangling out, this does give that extra few feet of drag free drift.
A good example of holding rod butt low. You can also see the shallow streamy water that best suits this method

From the diagram above, it can be seen how with several drag free drifts then a mend upstream the amount of water that can be covered. After dangling out, take a step downstream

This method of wet fly fishing covers a lot of water and is so simple. The most complex part is leader make up, but this should be done at home and wound onto a cast carrier.
Top tip from Louis regarding tangle free droppers was to essentially paternoster the droppers. Create the dropper length by creating a 3/4" to 1" loop at the end of the dropper and then passing the dropper loop over and above leader knot and back through itself. The result is a sliding dropper that stops on a knot in the leader make up. The loop in the dropper holds the dropper away from the leader. I know a two turn water knot is favoured by many, but although these may not tangle around the leader they do twist around the leader. Give this some consideration.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Simple and Heavy; well relatively

You can get so pre occupied with what worked last time out and over analysis on your favorite river, but how often does simplicity pay off in the end.
A stretch of the Alyn I usually avoid due to the magnetic attraction of coarse anglers is adjacent to Cook's Bridge. There is, empathatically, some nice deep glides here to attract them. Assuming I had first 'dibs' this morning [there were no cars] I dropped into the river upstream of the bridge, actually in amongst many dropped grains of sweetcorn that the previous occupant must have discarded. Gosh! are there tench here?
Anyway, the T was with me today and the trusted duo rig attached to enable 2 dimensional prospecting. Careful negotiation of the next 30yrds upstream bought responses from only a couple of parr and two refused aproaches to the dry from stamp Grayling. MMmmm maybe the fish around here are conditioned to the Jolly Green Giant's produce. Upon hearing a car door slam a 15cm Grayling gorged itself on the dry. So much so that I couldn't retrieve the hook and had to cut the line. I had to support this fish for a good five minutes before it held itself upright. I left the small fella to recover and rounding a slight bend I came face to face with a big black labrador and its owner[car door owner also] settling down to a little swimfeeder session. A quick exchange of courtesies and a careful paddle past their chosen swim led me to the next convenient pool upstream where the droppered dry was removed and re-positioned on the point. The #14 olive emerger resulted in a few small Grayling, but things just didn't feel right. I quickly tried a few small midge patterns in case size, or lack of, mattered but results were still pretty scant. The real fishy looking areas looked quite deep and were generally protected by a low canopy so I initially removed the 10' level leader and reloaced with one of Simon's custom 7' tip indicator furle with the intention to flick a #12 shrimp pattern in to the holes. Whilst changing setup a few fish were rising in a far bank run upstream, so I quickly adapted the setup by doubling the 7' furle with a stepped nylon leader, 5lb, 3lb, 2lb of simliar lengths. A size #20 midge was half blooded onto the end. This cast beautifully, the leader make up flicking effortlesly and the light 7' furle and section of 5lb mono was easliy lifted off the water to leave a small 3' pile of tippet and the fly to act naturally in the flow. Rewards were initially instant with several Grayling and a couple of small trout obliging. However, sport once again slowed with sporadic interest.
I reached another deepish spot and now decided to put the shrimpish pattern on. The pattern is tied classic Czech Nymph style with all body hair brushed out over the entire length. First cast and a trout darted out from its Willow tree refuge and took on the drop. Second cast, the same. Third cast, the shrimp finally cut through the water and on tracking through, the yellow indicator section of the furle paused. A quick lift and the thump thump of a decent Grayling; 30cm. A few paces upstream and another of 15cms.
For the next hour or so I stuck to the single shrimp, losing one or two on submerged traps, and concentrated hard on water over 18" deep. I really felt in the groove here, flicking and tracking the shrimp, carefully negotiating the narrow river as the main flow changed from left bank to right, the tip indicator appearring to detect everything, a succession of Grayling obliging...
Simple and I suppose winter like in setup, but although we love to bring them up to a well presented dry you do get days when you can flog the proverbal. The upwing population is not prolific on the Alyn and much of the summer daytime surface activity appear to be from terrestrials, but there is an abundance of small shrimp. So lets give it to them on occassion.
Btw, in the short stretch of river covered I've never ducked under so many Kingfishers before. I'm assuming most are this seasons young and are usually un disturbed. Once you cover the first 50yrds upstream, access to the coarse fishers becomes a little trickier so I doubt much of the river here has been fished this year.