Monday, January 28, 2008

The right footprint

Even though the horrendous weather and subsequent waters have meant an enforced break in my Grayling fishing since the week before Christmas, I'm going to try to stick to my guns and have my annual break which usually starts at the beginning of February and runs until the 15th March (unless out with clients) - this gives me the chance to catch up on some fly-tying and means I really look forward to the start of the Trout season.

At the moment, I'm reading (for the second time), 'A Modern Dry-Fly Code' by Vincent C. Marinaro - for anyone who hasn't read it, it is an excellent book.
When it was first published in 1950 it was described as being far ahead of it's time.
In chapter three Marinaro describes what the trout sees, it's window of vision and the importance of the 'footprint' - the impression that the fly makes on the surface of the water and seen by the fish in the mirror before it reaches the window .
He also believed that Dun imitations should be winged - the footprint alerts the fish to the fact that a fly is approaching and the wing is the first indication that it is entering the window.

I guess this could be why, on occasions, we have seen fish move some distance for the fly - the footprint is seen in the mirror and the fish goes to it rather than waiting for it to enter the window or it moves off line to intercept a fly that would otherwise miss the window.

A Large Dark Olive Dun (Baetis Rhodani)

In my opinion the footprint is not always that important when fishing our northern freestone rivers. For example, when fishing the dry in riffles, this water tends to be faster, more turbulent and shallower - trout in this type of water are closer to the surface therefore their window is smaller and they will not get time for a good inspection of the faster moving fly, and they are usually not so fussy about what you chuck at them.
As the riffle slows and deepens into the pool then this is where we should, on occasions, think of the impression our fly is making in or on the surface. Here the fish may be lying deeper, it's window is larger and it gets a good view of the mirror around that window, and anything that is piercing or creating a footprint on that mirror.

So when I'm tying my dries, I try to cover whatever the fish may be on - emergers, drowned or crippled duns and a variety of duns in the hope that on any given day one of them will create 'The right footprint'

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Versatility brings success

So much for getting out early in the New Year, I had to cancel a days fishing on the 2nd after checking the River Eden on New Years day and finding it dirty and rising and reading just over four foot on the gauge at Langwathby

Then plans were changed again on the 5th after rain on the 4th brought the river over the gauge which meant it was five foot plus, and dirty, and definitely not going to fish.

With the busy lives we all lead nowadays we can't always go fishing when we want to or when conditions are perfect, so in my opinion, to be a successful Trout and Grayling hunter you need to be versatile and be prepared to fish whatever the situation demands.

This means that you can no longer decide before you leave the house 'today I will be mainly fishing the dry fly' which you probably could have done some years ago when hatches were better and there were more fish in the rivers, although we do tend to look back through rose tinted glasses - from my recollections, going back some 30 odd years, it wasn't always great, although they were more regular and predictable than today, there were days when there was no hatch and apparently no fish in the river.

Hatches can still be relatively good on occasions and you may be surprised at how many fish are in the river when they are really 'up and at them', but we aren't always able to be on the water at the right time, so, to be successful you need to be able, and prepared, to fish spiders (upstream and down), upstream nymph, czech nymph, duo or New Zealand dropper, and streamers if necessary.

We will still have our favourite methods, my personal favourite has always and probably will always be the upstream nymph - I have always found it a very enjoyable method and there aren't many occasions when it doesn't produce results.

When it comes to the perfect rod for the versatile fly fisher, I think a 5 weight takes some beating, it's a good all round weight that will cope with most methods.