Blog, news and reviews from Snowdonia Fly Fishing Guides
Well the weather here is still dreadful, but not unusual for this time of year. It has been raining heavily, really heavily, for several days and blowing a gale. I was supposed to be on the river tomorrow but there's no chance of that now, it's best fished when the gauge is showing a height of around 300mm, it's still fishable at 450mm but downright hairy at 600mm. The gauge is currently showing 2330mm and still rising.
The mountains have water cascading down them in waterfalls and the moors are saturated with floodwater turning tracks into temporary rivers. Even the dogs are reluctant to go out in it.
So it's back to the vice to tie some more flies, well what else is there to do!
In my last post I said I was using up stocks of wild bird feathers and wouldn't use them again once my current stock is gone. Well rummaging through my boxes of materials I think I've got enough to last me for this lifetime and the next :0(
I've been using a golden plover skin today an old friend gave me as his eyesight is failing and hands are not as steady as they once were.
Below are a few of the spiders I've tied today on size 12 or 14 hooks.
Well the rivers are too high and fast to fish and the lake trout season doesn't start until next week. So to kill a bit of time I've been at the vice tying spiders. Not that I need any more, I've tied dozens of them over the winter.
Most wild birds are seeing dramatic declines in their numbers so I'm using up stocks of wild bird capes and instead will only use farmed birds in future. The top two pictures are various spider patterns but I've used a Chevron Hackles, Sunburst, hen cape for the hackle on all of them.
The bottom two have a golden plover hackle, available from Cookshill, and a Krystal Flash rib over a grey dubbing body.
I hope to take them for a swim at the weekend.
I usually tie spiders on #12 or #14 hooks but occasionally tie up a few on size 18's. these are tied in a range of colours and all have a starling hackle.
Dead easy to tie, perfect for tempting wild brownies and very effective on heavily fished waters.
The lady of the stream can be a fickle mistress. A couple of weeks ago she dined on pink spider and dry fly patterns, but just a few days later her craving was for something citrus.
Pull apart a net bag, the sort satsumas are sold in, stretch it a little, use it as a body wrap and lightly varnish before adding a rib and hackle. Grayling love them, well they did this week!
After guiding a client in the morning I had a cracking few hours on Monday afternoon. Three fish in my first ten minutes fell for the charms of a pink and red spider. I was so impressed with it's catching abilities I tied a load more this morning. I've also tied a few as a dry fly variant and will give that a go over the next few days.
This cracking late winter wild brownie was caught on a clients first freestone river fishing trip. The fish took a spider pattern fished high in the gin clear water.
Now I start by admitting the flies I tie are not works of art (and I greatly admire those that tie amazing patterns) they are functional and tied to catch fish.
So what do I look for in a good wet fly? A few things come to mind: size, colour and contrast, and movement. So when tying flies I choose materials that provide these fundamentals and are easy to use:
In terms of size I tend to use size 14 -18 hooks (I find smaller flies work well). Hook sizes frustrate the hell out of me, but that's another story! And I try to be sparing with the dressing often using just a few turns of thread and a hackle, as in spider patterns.
Colour and contract are important especially in clear water. I like to tie flies that are not too garish but have a small hot spot or a strand or fritz to make the fly more visible without being ostentatious!
Movement too is key is getting a fish interested and a nice soft hen hackle and sometimes a few tail fibres can achieve this. In deeper water where light diminishes and colours are of secondary importance movement becomes paramount.
The result is a simple pattern but one with plenty of interest to whet a fishes appetite.
So my advice is to keep wets simple but interesting.
Fishing for me has never been about catching the biggest fish or the most fish, though I accept it feels good to catch a big one occasionally. Because I'm not under any self imposed pressure to catch I often set myself challenges when I go fishing, only use dries, or spiders, or nymphs etc. Today's challenge was to only carry with me 12 flies I'd tied myself. Well 12 was plenty, I caught all the fish mentioned in a previous post on just 5 - 1 dry, 1 spider and 3 nymphs.
My tying isn't particularly pretty but the fish don't seem to mind!
Below are the flies I used. I'm not aware that these patterns have names (please tell me if you know otherwise) so the names are my own.
A well know fly fishing guide and instructor John can often be found fishing or guiding on the Welsh Dee or passing his knowledge to others at game fairs and country shows.
Guided fly fishing trips on rivers, streams and upland lakes in Snowdonia. and surrounding areas of North Wales.
Fishing for summer & winter grayling and wild brown trout.in the spectacular, tranquil countryside that is Snowdonia National Park.
Fly fishing and casting lessons for beginners. Casting fault analysis, single handed spey, slack line and presentation casting tuition for more experienced fly fishers.
Develop your watercraft skills on freestone rivers and upland lakes.