Why drink and flytying don’t mix…

Flies and mugThe picture is of the grimy plinth on which my office computer stands. I could clean it but, like many blokes, my tolerance for muck has progressed little from where it was when I was nine.

The foremost cup, bearing the scars of a thousand morning coffees, is also mine, the two flies perched above it the left-over remnants of some feature long since published.

Overall, should you tie your own flies, it is a tableau with which you may be familiar. In which case, a cautionary tale.

Half-way through an afternoon that had seen a fair wad of papers of all types cross my desk, I noticed both flies were missing. First job at day’s end, I decided, would be to retrieve them from the bottom of my pencil mug, seen at the back of the photograph.

An hour before time, I took on board the last dregs of my coffee, thankfully more by way of a reflective peck than a triumphant slurp. Just as I was wondering why, for the first time in 15 years, Peterborough’s water should be so hard as to leave limescale deposits suspended towards the bottom of my mug, the Yellow Owl connected with the inside of my lower lip.

Whoever it was among our contributors who tied the offending fly, my heartfelt thanks for going barbless. It was but a tap compared to a full-on take (and I suppose I can now claim to have taken ‘method journalism’ to its utmost) but that did nothing to diminish the embarrassing splutter with which latte and flies alike exited my mouth, to the bafflement of my colleagues across the aisle (their magazine involves motorbikes: inadvertently ingesting spark plugs is presumably unheard of, even on a Saturday night).

A briefly sore lip, of course, is the least of it. Had either fly tsunamied towards my throat and beyond, I shudder to think in what dismal waiting room I would have been obliged to fritter away my Friday evening.

The lessons are twofold. Fly anglers keep at least 12 inches between fly and any beverage and they develop the tendency to sip rather than quaff. Just to be on the safe side.

Trout Fisherman issue 477 – Black Loch feature

As promised in the latest issue, where we feature Scotland’s Black Loch Fishery, a photograph of the flies which work well there at various times of the year is set out below. The flies were kindly provided by Black Loch regular George Learmonth, who showed me around when I visited the Stirlingshire water last month. Dressings for each fly accompany the photo.

Black Loch flies

1 – UV Cormorant – hook: size 10 B175; thread: black Uni; body: uv tinsel; wing: black marabou; cheeks: jungle cock

2 – Peacock Buzzer – hook: size 12 B170; thread: black Uni; body: peacock herl; rib: yellow synthetic quill; cheeks: Mirage

3 – Single Decker – hook: size 12 B160; thread: Light Cahill Uni; body: pale yellow seal’s fur; rib: dark brown thread; wing: CdC; tail: Coq de Leon fibres

4 – Black Loch Sedge – hook: size 12 B830; thread: olive Uni; butt: Orkney peach seal’s fur; body: blend of deer hair and hare fur; wing: CdC sedge-type roof; hackle: dark red game

5 – Dry Kate McLaren – hook: size 12 B170; thread: black Uni; tail: golden pheasant crest sunburst; body: black seal’s fur; rib: silver wire; wing: CdC; legs: knotted black cock pheasant; front hackle: dark red game

6 – Green Beetle – hook: size 14 B175; thread: black Uni; body: peacock herl under Loco foam; hackle: black cock

7 – Squirmy Booby – hook: size 6 Short Shank Special; thread: fire-orange Uni; tail: hot pink single squirmy; body: black and blue 16mm Fritz; eyes: yellow foam

8 – Candy Floss Booby – hook: size 10 or 12 B175; thread: fire-orange Uni; tail and wing: candy-pink marabou; body: Mirage, coloured underside with neon-yellow Sharpie pen; eyes: yellow foam

9 – Cat Booby – hook: size 12 B175; tail: white marabout with uv tinsel under; body: fluoro-yellow chenille (small); wing: white marabou with crinkle flash; eyes: 4mm white foam; head: micro-red uv Fritz

Flies 8 and 9 are pictured in more detail below…


Trout Fisherman issue 477 – grayling feature

The latest issue of TF features an article on Dave Downie fishing the Clyde. Pressure of space means that not all the flies that Dave uses when fishing for trout or grayling on this Scottish river could be shown on the printed page, so the remainder are pictured below.

All flies shown here and in the article can be purchased at Dave’s website.


The reel deal? Call it 25 grand for this line holder…

Reel 1Not terribly au fait with America’s fishing hierarchy, I’m struggling to get my head round the idea of paying over $25,000 dollars for a fly reel.

I had wondered if it might be the fact it’s made by Jack Charlton, although whether even the handiwork of a 1966 World Cup winner who’s reinvented himself would run to 25 large, I had my doubts.

Turns out it’s not that Jack Charlton.

As for the reel’s original recipient, whose monogram is sculpted into its casing, there’s more on Ed Rice here. Clearly no stranger to a disgorger.

But 25 grand? It seems almost surreal for eBay, which I customarily treat as the online alternative to Poundland.

Even I, however, might be prepared to extend my usual pricing parameters, were video footage to go on sale showing the moment when the successful bidder’s spouse returns home and asks, “So what have you done with your day…?”

Oh yes; put me down for a tenner.

Feeling the pressure…

The new issue of Trout Fisherman, out today, contains an article on barometric pressure and its effect on fishing. John Parker recorded periods of rising, falling and static pressure and their attendant catch rates, for each day on which fishing took place at Earith Lakes over a 12-month period.

The demands of space meant that only a summary of his findings for each of the four seasons could be printed in the mag, so for those of you interested in the full picture, his day-by-day data is set out in the tables below. We will be happy to refer any queries you may have to him.

Click on each table to open it in full size.


Winter: Dec 21 2013 – Mar 19 2014

Spring: Mar 20 2014 – June 21 2014

Summer: June 22 2014 – Sept 22 2014

Autumn: Sept 23 2014 – Dec 20 2014

Temperature reference:

A – Feeding Prospects Poor – Water temp (deg C) below 4

B – Feeding Prospects Fair – Water temp (deg C) 4 to 6

C – Feeding Prospects Good – Water temp (deg C) 7-10

D – Feeding Prospects Excellent – Water temp (deg C) 11-16

E – Feeding Prospects Good – Water temp (deg C) 17-18

F – Feeding Prospects Fair – Water temp (deg C) 18-20

G – Feeding Prospects Poor – Water temp (deg C) above 20


Rise = an increase greater than 2mb

Fall = a decrease greater than 2mb

Steady = an increase or decrease of no more than 2mb

summer&autumn catch rates winter& spring catch rates Rev1

Salmon fishing – be prepared for deep-pocket water…

Just had some ads for salmon fishing courses sent to me.

Three days on the Tyne – in February – for 100 pennies shy of a grand, per person.

Four days on the Tweed in August, £1,399.

And then I had an email offering me a week’s five-star accommodation on the Greek island of Kos for £579. I won’t be going there for the time being, either, but it was at least nice to be back on planet Earth.

How’s your freeloading skill set?


Image by Scott Maxwell

What starts as an innocent enough eulogy to blagging freebies at fishing shows turns into a shameless masterclass in the art of proving that there is indeed such a thing as a free lunch.

Were the GoFishing Show still in existence, I and my colleagues manning the stands would have had a field day using the Golden Beetle’s pointers to unmask any copycat impostors.

As it is, should you be in the market for some top-of-the-range gear at this year’s CLA Game Fair, you might be well advised to leave your polo shirt in the wardrobe…