Tag Archives: Brown trout

drakensberg delights


Recently I received a request for advice on fly selection for the Drakensberg. The question evokes memories of brown trout from pristine waters, day after day walking through stunning surroundings, breathing perhaps the cleanest air that has ever filled my lungs. Rather than attempting further description, I encourage readers to click on Peter Brigg’s masterful blog http://callofthestream.wordpress.com to see his amazing pictures of Drakensberg paradise.

Back then I found success with tiny Coch-y-Bonddu style wet hackle flies: no tail or a short tail of hen hackle fibres, a double strand of peacock herl wrapped to make the body and a soft hen hackle in olive or black. I was not sophisticated in my technique at first however my enthusiasm knew no bounds and I caught a lot of fish. I learned quickly that the trout were wild and hungry: if I could present my fly without being seen myself, they would devour it.

Big brother, little brother... Metiefly damsel nymphs destined for the magical mountains of South Africa.

Big brother, little brother… Metiefly damsel nymphs destined for the magical mountains of South Africa.

Last night at the vice, I created two versions of a fly I just know would have worked perfectly in my endeavours almost 20 years ago. The larger versions are weighted for deeper pools and fast runs, the little ones are designed specifically for crystal waters and smaller tributaries… Tiny feeder streams became my personal favourites – several times I pitched my fly where no other human had been in the lifetime of the fish I was after… My ultimate reward on the final evening, in the last vestiges of sunlight I landed two 1 kg brown trout on consecutive casts. Time stood still in that moment as I thanked the Universe for such a rare and Sacred Gift!

Close up - well defined segments and strong materials ensure guaranteed performance for many fish (photo - metiefly)

Close up – well defined segments and strong materials ensure guaranteed performance for many fish (photo – metiefly)

Tying these gems is easy and the result is pleasing to my eyes – most importantly I know this pattern works wonders and will withstand multiple attacks from feisty predators. I’ll add in a couple of small Walker’s Killers and two Emerald Spiders in case of muddy water…

Only time will tell whether this mix of flies will work in the beautiful waters of Drakensberg streams - I'll let you know the outcome in due course. Tight lines to their recipient!

Only time will tell whether this mix of flies will work in the beautiful waters of Drakensberg streams – I’ll let you know the outcome in due course. Tight lines to their recipient!

Thank you for reading – please return soon!

Mitchi mayflies!


My Darling photographed this mayfly last weekend whilst we walked along the River Thames. It’s delicate wings were no match against blustery winds and at the risk of anthropomorphism, the little treasure was grateful for the chance to rest and strike a pose…

Mayflies are a dream come true for trout and fishermen alike!

Mayflies are a dream come true for trout and fishermen alike! Photo – worklondonstyle

This picture provides a sense of overall proportions:

I have a brilliant solution to sourcing the fine tailpieces... Will reveal all in due course...

I have a brilliant solution to sourcing the fine tailpieces… Will reveal all in due course… Photo – worklondonstyle

Earlier during the same walk, I had read an interesting article in one of the monthly fly fishing magazines about tabby cat fur being a purrfect (sorry!) source of dubbing material written by a highly successful young member of the English fly fishing team. Having already featured our very own Mitchi’s discarded whiskers on miniature dry flies, the next logical step was to harvest her loose fur from our couch.

Today I put all the pieces of the puzzle together to produce the following:

Cat fur dubbing provides a slim body profile and a pair of miniature hen hackles form excellent wings. What will the trout make of the end result?

Cat fur dubbing provides a slim body profile and a pair of miniature hen hackles form excellent wings. What will the trout make of the end result? Photo – metiefly

view from the top... Photo - metiefly

view from the top… Photo – metiefly

The original...

The original… Photo – worklondonstyle

The copy... metiefly Mitchi mayfly using locally sourced materials :-)

The copy… metiefly Mitchi mayfly using locally sourced materials 🙂 photo – metiefly

Mitchi is anticipating the finest cuts of the proceeds in due course…

purrfect collaboration... Thanks to Mitchi for sustainable use of materials at its best!

purrfect collaboration… Thanks to Mitchi for sustainable use of materials at its best! Photo – metiefly

Thank you for reading – please return soon!

adult damselfly prototypes


I was delighted when Orvis had exactly what I was looking for this afternoon! A brisk walk into town paid off when I was able to source some blue closed cell foam and some navy blue hackles. The prototypes of my blue damselfly are not ideal yet, however each time I tie another one, I am a step closer to unlocking the perfect formula. I was impressed with the wrapped deer hair tails on some of Orvis’s flies however they lack the sparkle of the Krystal Flash.

I might try some of these tomorrow in the hope of coaxing an unsuspecting trout into thinking he’s getting the first one of the season!

A variety of different techniques show certain promise however I'm not there yet - looks like I still have some exploring to do!

A variety of different techniques show certain promise however I’m not there yet – looks like I still have some exploring to do!

Early days - they need some field testing to see what O. mykiss thinks so far...

Early days – they need some field testing to see what O. mykiss thinks so far…

On our return walk from Central London, I picked up a piece of orange Organdie ribbon, which I turned into streamers for the Thames – orange is a hot favourite when water clarity is not great.

Remember to keep your eyes peeled at all times - tying materials are not necessarily expensive and you never know when your next breakthrough ingredient is about to reveal itself!

Remember to keep your eyes peeled at all times – tying materials are not necessarily expensive and you never know when your next breakthrough ingredient is about to reveal itself!

If you click on my link to the Featherbender blog on the right hand column, then search the site for 'organdie' you will find an amazing pattern for saltwater shrimp... Enjoy!

If you click on my link to the Featherbender blog on the right hand column, then search the site for ‘organdie’ you will find an amazing pattern for saltwater shrimp… Enjoy!

Thank you for reading, I look forward to your next visit!

The ultimate Test – salmon or grayling? part two


Continued from part one…

I made my way upstream to find Jimmy and catch up with his progress… He smiled ear to ear when he heard me describe what I had seen and shortly after that he caught a giant brown trout, larger than the sea trout that I had been unable to net successfully for him earlier. We had no scales however we both agreed it was definitely a double figure fish. This time we made sure of landing it and after a few quickly snapped pictures, we returned it to the now rising waters.

More than 10lbs, this fish is Jimmy's largest brown trout so far - safely returned in perfect condition!

More than 10lbs, this fish is Jimmy’s largest brown trout so far – safely returned in perfect condition!

I witnessed several boisterous upstream runs by giant sized fish, pushing bow waves ahead of them and seemingly oblivious to my presence on the riverbank. I switched back to the fly provided earlier, designed for rapid sinking and bumping along the bottom. It took me four or five casts to acclimatise to the heavy plop and then I started probing the opposite bank, casting slightly upstream and letting the fly work with the current in a slow arc…

Just as my thoughts turned to the effectiveness of this fly’s design, rendering it almost weedless despite having no weed guard, I got stuck on the bottom. Understandable, I suppose, given the pace of the river and the weight of the fly – I raised my rod tip, pulling gently, then harder as I tried to gauge what I was stuck to. Two solid shakes signalled to me that I was actually into a fish, and the fight was on! Mindful of the 6lb breaking strain tippet, I guided the fish towards me and into the current – my 5wt rod traced a perfect hyperbola as my line started to disappear. Having watched videos of sea fishermen handle permit, bonefish, tarpon and GTs, I played the fish off the reel, moving with it as it stayed low and out of sight… Eventually, after more than ten minutes, it showed, not on the surface, but close enough for me to realise this was the biggest fish I had ever had on the end of my line. It was wide and deep, much thicker than my thigh. Just before then, Jimmy had urged me to move the fish in a certain way to gain advantage – when he saw it, everything changed! Now it was a matter of holding on for dear life and working out how to access it – our landing nets were far too small. I said the only option we had was to move towards the end of the beat, into the shallower water where we could handle it and release the fish without bringing it to shore… When we eventually got there, I stepped into the water, eagerly anticipating a good look at this monster fish. The Salmon had different plans. It saw us in the water and changed direction. Far from being tired, it accelerated towards the opposite bank and into the root system of some large trees – when it arrived, it snapped my tippet like gossamer… WOW!

We were fortunate to have the whole river to ourselves - I ran with the giant salmon more than 200 metres downstream in search of shallow water because our landing nets we far too small. When I got there, it reversed, heading across to the deeper water and the trees on the far bank, whereupon it promptly snapped me off.

We were fortunate to have the whole river to ourselves – I ran with the giant salmon more than 200 metres downstream in search of shallow water because our landing nets were far too small. When I got there, it reversed, heading across to the deeper water and the trees on the far bank, whereupon it promptly snapped me off.

Jimmy and I were speechless for a moment, both humbled by what we had just seen… He said “it’s gone!” I said “we would have released it, it is safe now – we released it!” And then we started laughing as we climbed the riverbank, still in awe of the size and power of that fish. When we eventually returned to Jimmy’s rod we had talked ourselves out of an early lunch because the fish were biting too readily and there was a lull in the wind and rain. It was the right decision to carry on, for it was not long before Jimmy’s rod bent double and we watched a silver sea trout treat us to an aerial display. Fresh from the sea, we admired it’s exquisite beauty, took a couple of pictures and returned it. What a day we were having!

Feisty and silver, a freshly run sea trout was the 4th species of Salmonid we caught that day - unbelievable!

Feisty and bright silver, a freshly run sea trout was the 4th species of Salmonid we encountered that day – unbelievable!

After lunch, the rain and wind increased in intensity. Although we continued to catch, floating debris and rising floodwaters provided a different challenge. I played another very large fish for a while, thinking it to be a 10lb salmon, however Jimmy pointed out that it was a huge rainbow trout – as he said the words, it spat out my fly and shot off into the deeper water. I landed a stunning 3.5lb brown trout, similar in size and muscle to my Thames sea trout:

what an honour to catch this beautiful fish - almost identical in size to my Thames sea trout in the summer. Safely returned to the river!

What an honour to catch this beautiful resident brown trout – almost identical in size to my Thames sea trout in the summer. Safely returned to the river!

As the light started to fade, we walked back up to the top end of the beat, returning to where Jimmy had started the day off with such flair. Determined to bring his tally to 15, he made cast after cast into turbulent waters, the little island we had walked across now completely submerged… It was not to be – before it got too dark we saluted the River Test, thanking it for an experience of a lifetime and we packed up for the day. I have still not seen a grayling up close and personal, however I am happy to swap this experience for now – there is always an opportunity for grayling on another adventure!

I took a photo of the memorial plaque on the door of Orvis’s cottage – pausing to reflect how proud Mr Edwards would be, knowing that this landmark venue continues to be lovingly maintained and guarded by its custodians and visitors alike. Long may it last. As I finish this blog entry, I wish to thank Jimmy Boyd for the most incredible fishing experience and for his fantastic companionship throughout the day. It is deeply appreciated.

paying respect to the late Michael Edwards

paying respect to the late Michael Edwards

Thank you for reading and here’s wishing everyone around the world a truly special festive season – Merry Christmas! – metiefly

The Orvis Cottage at the ginger beer beat - Kimbridge, River Test. Thank you for the privilege.

The Orvis Cottage at the ginger beer beat – Kimbridge, River Test. Thank you for the privilege.

The ultimate Test – salmon instead of grayling? part one


Hallowed grounds - I heard this described as one of fly fishing's sacred places...

Hallowed grounds – I heard this described as one of fly fishing’s sacred places…

The knowledge I gained through personal experience yesterday is beyond normal measurable value: no amount of preparation, research and optimistic dreaming could predict what unfolded on the famous ginger beer beat… the first cast of the day produced a spritely rainbow for my host and after his third fish in less than fifteen minutes, I graciously accepted his offer of an identical fly… Two casts later I caught and released a beautiful brownie – fit as a fiddle and exquisite to look at in close up. A few more casts with my host’s fly, then we moved on and I switched to a size 16 gold head deer hair nymph – eager to conjure up my first ever grayling take. No bites!

First cast of the day - a spritely rainbow of about 2lbs... Jimmy went on to catch and release 14 fish despite horizontal raindrops and 22mph winds! The island in the foreground was completely submerged when we returned in the evening and all the rainfall in the test valley caught up with us.

First cast of the day – a spritely rainbow of about 2lbs… This would prove to be the smallest: Jimmy went on to catch and release 14 fish despite horizontal raindrops and 22mph winds! The island in the foreground was completely submerged when we returned in the evening and all the rainfall in the test valley caught up with us.

Salmo trutta in pristine condition - well done Mr B!

Salmo trutta in pristine condition – well done Mr B!

my first fish of the Test...

my first fish of the Test…

Fish moved in a way that I have not seen in a wild river…  Chalkstream waters renowned worldwide for their clarity seemed to magnify size and multiply numbers… Could they really be this big?

When we lost count of how many my fishing partner had landed (dare I mention his double figure sea trout that was too large for the net – freeing itself before we could come up with a suitable plan?), we took a stroll to the end of the beat so I could explore the whole territory and absorb one of fly fishing’s most sacred places…

I saw no grayling in the likely spots despite half an hour of drifting my tiny fly through riffles and channels, wondering what the grayling take would feel like. Suddenly my education ramped up a notch: I could only gawk as the “sandbar” that I had been using as a reference point in the middle of the river repositioned itself like a feeding trout does every now and then. My mouth dried and my pulse thumped – this shadow was the size of my leg. Memories of my ‘giant'(1.1kg) rainbow trout from the headwaters of the Nyangombe River flooded back to me: Back then, after an hour of trying every pattern I had, I eventually caught it on a diminutive ‘Bruce’s Bug’ tied by my friend Gareth… My reverie was broken by lactic acid burning in my casting shoulder, suggesting that I had drifted my fly past this leviathan enough times to prove that it was not going to happen soon!

I could not believe the size of the fish I saw slightly upstream of this picture... It only registered as a fish in my brain when the "sandbar"moved like a feeding fish.

I could not believe the size of the fish I saw slightly upstream of this picture… It only registered as a fish in my brain when the “sandbar”moved like a feeding fish.

Thank you for reading – the story continues in part two…

Gearing up for an awesome winter season


There are many ideas for blogposts swimming around in my mind at the moment  –  autumnal nights are drawing in however the uncharacteristic warm and dry evenings for this time of year have meant more time spent walking and less time writing. Having read extensively on the subject of performance optimisation and the intrinsic nature of excellence over the Summer, I am eager to take everything I learned whilst at the vice and on the Thames into the winter season at my local lake.

Basic casting technique is something that has to be practised regularly… From my catch catalogue page, you will see that apart from one dream sea trout and a very unlucky baitfish, the rest of my outings were blank days: I banked many valuable hours of casting practise and at last I am completely at home with my line basket to help protect loose line from being trodden into the mud or getting stuck amongst leaves.

On the vice, I sprang several leaps up the learning curve and feel more at home with a number of new tying techniques. I also met a number of wonderful characters online via YouTube or other blogs, and have a number of far flung experiments bubbling away in the background, hopefully in time for Christmas.

Tried and tested stalwarts... I'll be dreaming up new patterns whilst I settle into a rhythm this winter

Tried and tested stalwarts… I’ll be dreaming up new patterns whilst I settle into a rhythm this winter

I wish to thank all of you who visit my blog for the phenomenal support and encouragement I have received and I look forward to much fun in the coming weeks!

Thanks for reading, please return soon!

Latest video – Clouser minnows arctic fox style


So today I was able to shoot my latest fly tying tutorial. Now you can learn how to create your own Clouser minnows using two contrasting shades of arctic fox and some flash to replicate the appearance of a local baitfish.

Thames baitfish caught by accident last weekend. My choice of fly was perfect...

Thames baitfish caught by accident last weekend. My choice of fly was perfect…

Last weekend whilst fishing for a late season sea trout I accidentally foul-hooked a minnow that proved I was matching the hatch according to size and coloration. Despite no bites that evening (again!), I since chanced upon some expert advice in the Deneki blog (http://www.deneki.com/2013/08/king-salmon-swing-techniques/#comment-16595) about how to swing flies to provoke a strike. Tomorrow armed with my new flies, I shall attempt to coax another sea trout into biting.

Enjoy the video and I look forward to your news when you catch your own fish on this pattern. Tight lines!

Thank you for reading, please visit again soon!