Gift Vouchers

Gift vouchers available for all tuition, from only £25.00 See here for more details

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Beach Casters

The lesson yesterday was with Stuart and Wendy McNair from Preston. Both of them are very keen on sea fishing with powerful beach casting rods. It is normal to expect people who do this sort of fishing regularly to find it difficult to make the transition over to fly fishing. Why? because the technique is so very different and more so on the application of power.
However, once Wendy and Stuart recognised and understood these changes we made terrific progress.

The roll casts were executed with good control and accuracy and the overhead casting was very good. Starting off with a basic overhead we soon got onto false casting and shooting line.

With all these casts we looked at the safety factors and variations of each cast taking into account the very nasty Westerly. This was just as well because when it came to actually fishing the wind was horrible but using the wind behind technique with the roll cast both of them were able to get a good line out with more than sufficient distance and more importantly without putting themselves in danger of being hit with the fly line or the fly.

So in spite of the conditions I was happy with the way the lesson went and we achieved all the original objectives and hopefully Stuart and Wendy will go on to do and enjoy more fly fishing in the future.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Father and Son

Had a great lesson today with Gareth who lives in Switzerland and his Father, Bill from Bolton.
The lesson went according to plan untill the casting, Bill was good but Gareth was exceptional for a complete beginner.

The main reason for Gareth's performance was that he is one of those rare people who have the ability to control the movement of the wrist from the onset. Most people instinctively cock the wrist whilst trying the overhead cast and it requires a bit of patience and for some a lot of practise to overcome this fault. Gareth however had almost instant control and was therefore moving the rod with only his forearm and shoulder and started to cast some impressive loops straight away.

I teach hundreds of people over the course of a year and probably only about one in 50 have this control, the rest of us mere mortals have to work a bit harder but get there in the end.

Gareth is just visiting on his annual holidays before going back home to Zurich. He did tell me that there are Brown Trout in Lake Zurich but at 500 ft deep you might struggle using fly fishing techniques but got to be worth a go!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Windy conditions

Today I had a lesson with Anthony from Manchester, a complete beginner. The weather was awful, high winds from the West and very heavy rain and so I had my doubts that we would be able to do the lesson. Rain is not so bad - clothing can protect you against that but strong winds are another thing entirely, especially with a new starter. However we started the lesson with an explanation of the tackle, knots, leader set-ups and fly selection with a bit of entomology thrown in for good measure.
At this time there looked to be a little break in the conditions so we ventured outside. The roll cast went well once Anthony started to stop the rod high, so we progressed onto the basic overhead cast. Then the rain came and the wind picked up. Fortunately Anthony was used to the outdoors and so the conditions didn't put him off and he wanted to continue and in the end he was able to put a good straight line out in spite of the conditions.

High winds can cause problems for any fly fisher, no matter how good you are at casting. Most leisure anglers go the the upwind bank to cast with the wind behind them - this is not the best thing to do!
The prime position for a right hander is to stand with the prevailing wind coming from the left so that the wind keeps "danger" (the fly) downwind of where you are stood. If you are left handed then position yourself with the wind coming from the right.
You will get a decent line out casting across the wind but you won't be in danger!!

Try it!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Gift Voucher

Had a lesson today with Kevin from Bolton who was bought a gift voucher for his last birthday.

The lesson went very well with Kevin getting to grips with the technical demands of casting. As with all beginners it boils down to the wrist - using it in the roll cast and not using it for overhead casting. Practise makes perfect and I hope to see Kevin putting what he has learned to good effect in the near future.

Unfortunately the weather was horrible, heavy rain interrupted with spells of slightly less heavy rain! As the saying goes there is no such thing as bad weather just inadequate clothing!

It would be good, however, not to have to rely on the "good clothing" sometime in the future!!!!

I have another beginner tomorrow but maybe have a go for the Salmon on Wednesday (day off) if the rivers stay up. Here's hoping!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The new golf??

Good lesson today with a really great couple from Rochdale, Ryan and his wife Kirsty. They went through my usual day lesson, and ended up with a few hours fishing time. Both of them were casting very well and achieving a decent distance with control and accuracy.
Unfortunately the fish were not in a good mood - water temps way up - fish way down but on another day they would have had fish I am sure.

I am teaching more and more couples and partners to fly fishing I wonder why?
Is it because its is a good healthy sport that both can do equally?
Is it because one or the other doesn't want to be left at home and so joins in?

I don't know for definite but it has been said that fly fishing is becoming the new Golf - both sexes able to do it well, any age, any ability and enjoy doing something different together!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Family Fly Fishing

Hi all, had another good lesson today with Steve from Bolton with his Son and his Son's friend.
After a little explanation about what fly fishing is, the equipment we use and the fly selection we have, it was off to the water for casting.
I immediately started them off with the Roll cast which is fairly easy to learn but more importantly gives them the ability to get the fly out onto the water safely, in most conditions. They all did really well and so we then moved onto all the other variations of the roll cast taking into account wind direction etc.
We then spent some time on applying this cast to actually fishing, retrieving, playing the fish, fish handling etc. In addition to the vital aspects of "watercraft", where to fish and what to look for.

All in all a good introduction to fly fishing and hopefully giving them all the encouragement to take up this great sport long-term.

I am often asked to teach kids fly fishing and I guess it's one of those areas that promotes a lot of discussion within Instructor circles. My take on it is simple - Kids need to be at least 10 years old and an early teenager better still. In my experience children younger than this are better off having a go at coarse fishing where the technical demands are not as great and the probability of catching fish are greater.

I whole heartedly encourage parent and child lessons where they both learn together - it's a fantastic opportunity to do some bonding and get the kids away from the game consoles and PC's, get some fresh air. Even if the parent is a fly fisher already I will still get them to come along and participate in the lesson. There is no point at all in my teaching the child to do certain casts safely if the parent can't keep them on this path afterwards, through lack of knowledge on their part.

Hey, but that's just my point of vue!?!?!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Single handed spey casts

Had a session with two of the guys training to become GAIA instructors today on the River Ribble.
The main focus of our attention were the spey casts that need to be demonstrated during their final assesment.

Spey casts are obviously associated with the double hander and salmon fishing but they also have a large part to play in any river fishing, single or double handed. Single speys, double speys, snake rolls and snap casts can allow you to cast when you have limited space behind you, awkward upstream or downstream winds and you need to change the direction.

Some of these are quite simple to do others will require a little practise to get them right but all of them are worth the effort.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Application of power

Had a lesson with Mike from Manchester who is a regular client of mine.
Mike has recently invested in a very fast actioned  and powerful rod and was having some difficulties in "taming" it. The key in this case it to let the rod get on with what it's good at - casting a line - don't try and do all the work yourself!

The main problem with fast actioned rods are that they can magnify any slight problems with tempo and/or power application which encourage a concave movement of the rod tip and result in tailing loops.

Just a little bit of regular pracitse and Mike will be casting like a dream with his new "wand"

Mike has siged up for my Salmon trip next month on the river Tyne and we have organised a little double handed casting practise  before this trip.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Fly fishing not fly casting!

Had a good lesson yesterday with a regular client Anna from Wrexham. Anna has had a few lessons concentrating on casting technique but we are now looking at actual fishing techniques.

I describe myself as a fly fishing instructor NOT a fly casting instructor.
Fly casting is very important and the better you can cast the more fish you should be able to catch by having the ability to overcome the forces of nature, wind, trees and bushes in the way etc.. but you also need to ability to fish and "read the conditions".

The very best fly fishers are able to cast well, of course but they also are able to get the best out of the prevailing conditions by applying the most appropriate fishing technique or adopting certain tactics in order to maximise the opportunities of catching.
These are the guys who NEVER blank!!

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Double hauling

Had 2 great lessons today the first with my mentoring group who are all training for Instructor qualifications. The content of this lesson with them was teaching techniques and I enlisted the help of Frank a pal of mine, to act as a client. Frank played the part well and both he and the trainees benefited from the process.

The second lesson was with Bob from Helmshore. Bob is a very experienced fly fisher and is chairman of one of the big fly fishing clubs in the North West.
I have been teaching Bob to have more control and accuracy with his casting and being able to overcome the effects of fishing when it's windy.

Most of our reservoirs we use for fly fishing are very windy places and this control is essential to keep us safe and to still achieve some distance and presentation, double hauling is a vital technique in doing this.

Bob was confidently casting a good 60ft straight into a wind today and only using the minimum amount of energy doing it and so went away a happy man.

A day off tomorrow - need to repair my waders which have sprung some leaks! It's all go!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Stag Party

I was over in Yorkshire today helping out my mate Stuart Minnikin with a group booking at Kilnsey Park Fishery.
Mike from Chorlton with his father Richard and a small group of chosen friends wanted a stag party with a difference. Mike is getting married next month and chose a day fly fishing as his main activity on this occassion.
Great bunch of lads and everyone had an enjoyable and hopefully memorable day, all caught fish and had a laugh - just what a day like this should be about!
Fly fishing is getting higher on the list of things to do on Stag parties - I probably do 3 or 4 a year as more people want a change from the go karting or drunken binges in all the usual suspect venues abroad.
Tomorrow it's another group - all the guys I am mentoring through to a GAIA qualification.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Andy from Chorley - a beginner's lesson

Today I was teaching Andy, from Chorley, a complete beginner who has done quite a bit of coarse fishing with poles and stuff!
Once Andy got to grips with the technique he made excellent progress and I ended up going a lot further with him in terms of variations of casts than with most beginners.
He is a powerful Bloke, who does weight training and the initial problem was getting the application of power correct,  as it is with lots of people from a coarse or sea fishing background.

The application of power is critical with any casting - smooth acceleration forces the rod (spring) to work effectively. The "spring" then transfers energy to the fly line and allows us to achieve good presentation and turnover.
As a general principal if you want to cast better (and further) take the power out of the cast. If we try too hard we end up throwing the rod forward which can result in tailing loops or rebounds in the line.

Andy is now off to buy some fly fishing tackle and then will be back to try his hand at actual fishing and putting into practise all the information and skills he has learned during this initial lesson.

Thursday, 12 August 2010


Had a good session with my mate Richard who is working hard towards taking his APGAI exam in March 2011.
APGAI - The Advanced, Professional, Game Angling Instructor is a very prestigious award known all over the world.
It is not easy to achieve and requires lots of time and dedication to reach the required level of skill and knowledge.
What do you think are the main attributes that a good fly fishing instructor should have?
Personal skill and knowledge certainly, ability to teach, definitely, years of experience in fly fishing, yes. A formal qualification with one of the main fly fishing instructor associations is a must in my eyes as it a proof that the person has achieved a high standard in all these attributes.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The River Ribble

Went river fishing myself today on a private stretch of the river Ribble. The E.A. river levels this morning showed the river 14cms up on normal summer level, so not enough water to fish for salmon so just went with a 9ft #5 and some trout flies.
Although the river was not up much, it was more coloured than I expected but perfectly fishable.

Almost from the start I was plagued with little Parr jumping all over my flies. It is a little annoying but on reflection it is a sign that the river is in good nick and producing our future sport. As soon as I begin to get a few plucks from these little guys  I move away and let them get on with the job of getting bigger!

Let me know if you can tell if this is a Salmon or Trout Parr, cause at this size, I can't tell the difference.

Managed to get into a couple of decent sized trout and a small Grayling so the day ended well. I decided to call it a day just as a horrible upstream wind kicked in.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Coarse fishing

Had a lesson today with Glen from Wigan, who is a really avid coarse fisherman. Glen did really well once he go to grips with the differences between casting a fly rod and any other fishing rod.
I think he will make a very good fly fisher and once smitten will get rid of all his "maggot drowning" tackle!

The differences with coarse casting and fly casting are immense and really cannot stand comparison. The rods themselves have completely different actions. A coarse is manufactured to cast weight in the form of the terminal tackle used. A fly rod is made to cast a fly line, which is obviously weight but it is not concentrated purely at the end of the fishing line but a continuous and ever increasing weight the more line is aerialised.

There are advantages being an experienced fisher in other disciplines - your fishing instincts, fish playing, handling and netting etc. but it is a disadvantage when is comes to casting.
It is not a major problem and easily overcome but it does surprise a few about how technical and how different fly casting is.

Tomorrow I am off and going to do a bit of river fishing myself if the weather allows??

Sunday, 8 August 2010

What better way to spend a Sunday morning?

Taught a couple today, Mike and Helen both complete beginners.
Really took to it very well and made good progress and more importantly understanding of casting and fishing technique.

This is the crux of learning - understanding. If you don't know what you are trying to do and don't understand how the rod and line work in unision it is very hard to gain a good technique.

Once you have the knowledge of what you are meant to do and are able to recognise when it goes wrong and what you do about it - then the only difference between a beginner and a competent caster is mere practise.

and we all know what practice makes......???

Friday, 6 August 2010

Friday 6th Aug tuition

Two lessons today - first was Tony and his son Marcus from Lancaster. Did my usual 2 hour intro lesson as neither of them had done any fly fishing before. Talked about equipment, leader set-ups, fly selection etc,. then onto the casting, followed by watercraft.
Both of them did very well - they are off to Fawcetts now to buy some gear and then will be practising before another visit back to me for more tuition.

Then I had a regular client John from Stockport. John is quite an experienced flyfisher who mainly does Salmon fishing but has come back today to learn a little bit more about reservoir fishing. His basic casting was pretty good but we concentrated on his double hauling technique, so that he could have more control in the wind and hit a bit more distance when required.
I was happy with the progress he made and more importantly so was he!!!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

River levels

Over the last few years whenever I had any doubt about the river levels I have used the E.A. rivercall number 09066 197733 which has certainly helped me to avoid frustrating trips to the river only to find that's it is unfishable.

Recently I discovered this service from the E.A. website, which lists basically the same info as the rivercall but obviously online!

Check it out and keep them in your favorites

River Ribble
Rivers Lune and Wyre
Rivers Eden, Eamont and Esk
River Wharfe
River Dee, North Wales
River Tyne
Other areas and rivers

A great service that will be very handy when planning your next river trip.

Beware that this info lists the height of the river NOT the colour!!! As a very basic rule of thumb, I assume that if the river is 0.3m or more above normal height then the colour could be an issue for trout and grayling fishing, at least..
If you have any other observations then please let me know.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Today's Tuition

Two lessons today.

First off is with Nigel from Manchester who I am mentoring to become an Instructor - today we will be concentrating on double hauling technique, as part of the assessment is to cast a distance of 75ft with a maximin 2 false casts demonstrating ease and control.

My second lesson this afternoon is with Robert from Bolton, who was given a gift voucher. Robert is a complete beginner and will be going through all the basics of fly fishing and fly casting to prepare him for his first solo fly fishing session. The wind really picked up during this last lesson with Rob but he mangaged very well and was able to execute a pretty good roll cast and basic overhead cast.

I love doing days like this - great variation in the content, pity about the weather.
Are we ever going to get the summer back??

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Back to the day job

Had a great lesson with Steve and Dave from Chorley. Dave has been fly fishing revervoirs and stillwaters for about 5 years but Steve is a relative newcomer to our sport.

Like most self taught fly fishers, Dave showed all the faults that you would expect, too much power and a bit wristy but improved really quickly and was soon casting very well with lots of control and more distance than he normally would achieve.

Once Steve understood the basics of how to cast he made great progress and should go on to be a very capable fly fisher.

A 2 hour lesson like this one is normally enough to iron out the problems with all self taught fly fishers and make real improvements. All revervoir fly fishers want to cast further (although this is not always required!) Distance comes with pure technique NOT power!!

The other major obstacle comes with being able to cope with the wind - technique and keeping yourself safe are the primary objectives.

Steve and Dave will now practice the techniques learnt in this lesson and then come back for another session to make more improvements.