Archive for the ‘Equipment’ Category

New River, New Rod and Line

Friday, September 21st, 2012

I had an invite a couple of months ago to go and fish the Findhorn we booked and agreed the 13th September.  The day before arrived and I began to  doubt the sense of driving 3 hours there and back.  Nevertheless my host had taken the time and trouble to book the fishing and invite me so off I went leaving home at 5.30am.

My host Ian met me at Dulsie Bridge the gorge section of the river, turns out we were going to fish at the top of this section on the Cawdor Castle, Banchor beat.  This gorge on the Findhorn stretches from here down almost to Forres some 20 miles.

Looking upstream to the top of the beat. Suspension bridge that links to the east bank.

I new that the river would not be very wide so I was delighted to have taken my new Bob Meiser 13 ft which I had bought primarily for skagit casting from their Highlander Classic series.   Whilst I have no great opportunity to fish skagit  as a game angling instructor I needed to know about it and have the kit.  It does however give me the opportunity to have a set up which will enable me to fish in tight locations.  Instead of a skagit I have been linking this rod with a Rio, Scandi Short Versi Tip shooting head.  The rod is rate #6/7/8 with a grain window of 450 to 750 and this is a #8 weight line what can I say the versatility this outfit gives is amazing.

The rod itself is 4 piece with a through action it bends right down into the butt when using skagit lines.  It is not as light as some but extremely well put together and finished off.  At first I was not keen on the look of the part cork/composite handle but with time have grown accustomed to this finish.  The very distinctive jungle cock feather varnished into the butt section makes the rod easily recognisable as a Meiser.

Meiser Jungle Cock

Now for the scandi short line, it weighs in at 485 grains and is a #8 and it does exactly what it says in the packed and more.  Developed by Rio as a shooting head for smaller rivers and tight casting situations.  To be used with shorter double handed rods It comes as a kit and includes 4 interchangeable 10ft tips (Floating, Clear Intermediate, Type 3 Sink, Type 6 Sink).  The more, to me is that I have since used it on the Tay a big river and did not feel under gunned.  Ok you have to strip in a lot of running line but it works a treat.  I have tended to use the skagit where I have had clients who need to get spey casting in quick time.  This line is even better for this and I used it recently with a client planning a weeks fishing  and he asked to keep it for the week, so I hope to get it back!

Black and white pools

Now back to the fishing.  The river was running off after a little rain and looked as though it could maybe have done with a little more water.  Ian was quickly into a fish in the Buck pool which was quickly on and off.  He later told me that he has never managed to land a fish on this beat!  We fished on down the entire beat hoping from rock to rock.  If you are infirm in anyway this is not the beat for you.  Lunch was taken in the splendid hut available on the water and my host had made  a superb lunch including wine which I resisted as I knew I had a long drive home.

My host Ian in the Cow Pool

The afternoon was time for a fly change and I put a red francis tied on a size 10 long shank treble.  I had never used this fly before everyone said it was good but for some reason I resisted it, the limited colour I think put me off, being all red.

Red Francis

I could not understand why though as I had in the distant passed used natural dyed shrimps and GP’s.  As you might imagine it worked as I entered the big rock pool not the biggest fish in the world I would guess about 7lb but a nice clean fish for this time of year.

So there it is my first fish on this fly, on this river , on the line and on this rod always a joy.











As  a post script I was on the Tay a couple of days later and the red francis worked again this time on a fish that was approximately 17lb coloured as you can see,  on my Scott MacKenzie 15 ft partnered with another great line from Rio the AFS.

Tay Salmon approximately 17lb


I am told that the black francis will also work a treat but that might well be a step to far.


Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Japanese translation apparently means “from the heavens” said to be called this because the fly lands gently from above.  From an instructors perspective it could also be heaven sent.

I was at the British Fly Fair last month and all the chat at the GAIA fly tying stand was about Tenkara. Louis Noble one of our members from North Wales was totally sold so much so that he was sat tying traditional Tenkara flies on needle sharp traditional barbless hooks that required gut eyes to be tied on as part of the process.

I was sceptical, coming from the western background of short rods, reels and the need to cast, what advantages could this method possibly have over my Helios and weight forward line.

Well to start with its extremely simple just a telescopic rod at the end of which you attach a leader either furled or straight through copolymer or fluorocarbon, that’s it.  The rods are long averaging between 12 and 14ft but they are ultra light.  You can fish all our normal methods for trout and grayling, dries, nymphs and wet flies.  So far I have used it only for dries and it does enable you to position a fly gently and hold it without drag in all those little awkward corners that you would have difficulty casting to.  It’s also a joy to play fish with although I guess that when I do catch a big one with this set up I will need to follow the fish and it might well play me!

Tenkara will never replace my normal set up but it does have other distinct advantages.  As an instructor I am often asked to take complete novices fly fishing and when this happens normally the issue is being able to get the pupil to get past go and cast a line, in fact most of the day is taken up with casting.  Not any more Tenkara solves this, novices and children with very little casting instruction can be introduced to fly fishing in a very short period of time, this to me is “heaven sent”.  It’s also extremely light and compact so that it can be carried in the back of your waistcoat or bag ready to use at an instant.

As an Orvis Endorsed guide it also pleases me that Orvis in the USA are promoting and selling Tenkara kits so it will I assume only be a matter of time when it arrives in the UK’s stores.

Tenkara Masters – Lessons with Dr. Ishigaki and Sakakibara Masami from Tenkara USA on Vimeo.

A Day on the Tay

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

I always like to visit new beats and bits of river.  The other day I had the pleasure of going to Upper Murthly a middle beat on the Tay.  I just took the notion and booked it on a couple of days before.  That’s the great think about the internet being able to book fishing’s at very short notice when you see fish being caught or the height looks right.  I got it slightly wrong and the river was 3ft up but running very clear and cold at 42 degrees.

Tony Kings dogs!

I was met by Tony Black the ghillie and his 4 beautiful dogs, it turns out that I was the only rod on the beat that day so I got personal attention.  It has been a long time since I fished a beat where the ghillie called me sir, wore tweed and a tie and offered to carry my rod, the last occasion was Birkhall on the Dee, the Queen Mother’s beat.   As ever Tony being a ghillie was optimistic he had caught a fish the day before so they were around and if there should take a fly.  I was relaxed and simply wanted to enjoy the day and surroundings if I had an encounter with a fish then that was a bonus.

Using a Loomis Stinger shooting head S3 and a Willie Gunn and off we went to fish the Tronach pool which was at the top of the beat.  Shooting heads I prefer in high water or if you want to fish a sinking line, they are easier to control and lift out of the water, pull in the running line when you have fished the cast out, role cast to lift the head to the service then straight into a cast in this case a single spey.  I fished the pool down several times before lunch changing fly on several occasion but no fish was encountered.

It did get me thinking about my casting though, on the pond at the Glasgow Casting club it’s comparatively easy but on the river all sorts of faults creep in this case “crashed anchors”.  I am going to have to consult some of my mates within GAIA although I suspect I am dipping the rod.

Tronach Pool Upper Murthly

Lunch was a relaxed affair in a warm hut with Tony talking about the flies he ties always good to hear someone else’s views.   He has had a write up in the T & S for a few of his flies the Ghillie, a Murthly Marauder and a Stenton Shrimp.  Always interested in new patterns especially local ones I committed to looking them up in past copies of the magazine.

I wish I could now say that we went onto catch several fish in the afternoon but of course that was not the case.  I did walk the beat and checked it out for future occasions crossing the river in the boat whilst Tony harled.   It was a good day I enjoyed it and hopefully I will fish the beat again.

Thinkfish Automatic Reel

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Many years ago probably more than I care to remember when I started my game fishing career I used a French automatic reel.  It was good at the time I fished in Dorset on a lake and chalk stream.  I found the automatic reel to be great in that when I hooked a fish it very quickly got the line back on the spool and I was less likely to get snagged.  The downside to this particular reel was its weight, very heavy and occasionally it ran out of steam and you had to rewind it whilst trying to control a fish.

However despite the disadvantages I enjoyed using it and often hankered over owning another.  I can now confirm that I have one its called a Thinkfish Bold . Now this reel is very different beautifully made with aerospace aluminium which makes it incredibly light a great improvement on my earlier model, take a look below, this photo was courtesy of Jim Williams.

Thinkfish Bold Reel

Its a modern and very stylish piece of kit with a very contemporary design. This is a large arbour reel so has bags of capacity #6 with 60 metres of backing.  I have used it both from a boat and on a river and found it to be equally at home on either.  The absolute benefit is the way that you can retrieve line instantly no messing.  Here is some of the technical stuff that you might like to be aware of:

Construction: Aluminuim frame, spool & assembly, S/Steel gearing

Weight: 6.51 ounces

Diameter: 8.97cm

Retrieve Capacity: 1.2 meters by pull, ratio 1:5.5

Drag: Conic Multi disc

Line rating: up to #7

Backing Capacity: #5 = 100 mtrs, #6 = 60 mtrs, #7 = 30 mtrs

Spools are large arbor and easily changed with the press of a button.  The reel  comes with a  full replacement  guarantee in the event of failure in the first two years after purchase and unlimited free repairs (except for carriage costs) of any genuine defect from there on.

The reel lever distance from the rod handle can be adjusted with a simple saw tooth design on the reel seat allowing for different sized hands.  Generally whilst fishing though you are not aware of the reel lever until you catch a fish it is then that the rapid retrieve becomes apparent.