Friday 21 March 2014

Inside…Out Waterhen Bloa:

The recent Pearly Butt Bloa I posted on Facebook has prompted several questions concerning hackles? Traditionally, a Waterhen Bloa calls for an under covert feather taken close to the knuckle on the inside of a moorhen wing (right). Sticking to the letter, this was my choice too, until one day a number of years ago when I’d stripped my coveted moorhen wings of this precious bounty…  Some might call me a heathen, others would say I was being tight, but desperate for a handful of flies, I turned to the marginal coverts (outside shoulder) of a wing.  What fell from my vice that day was a bundle of spiders with a certain va va voom.  Whether you agree or not, since stumbling on this I’ve neglected the inside hackles of moorhen wings and instead always reached for those outer feathers.  Why, because they’re a desirable spoon shape with nice webby fibres that catch the light to give off a lovely olive sheen.  In my eyes the finished fly in nothing short of stunning… 

Feathers selected from outside (marginal covert) a moorhen wing make superb Bloas.  It’s best to single them out using closed scissor points

Compared side by side, you can clearly see the difference between hackles from the outside and inside of a moorhen wing.  Naturally, everyone has an opinion, but “you pays your money and you takes your choice” and my cash rests squarely on those dusky, webby hackles found on the upper parts… I understand that from a fly dressing perspective, some of you might stick to the recipe of our forefathers.  If that’s the case, I’ll swap your used moorhen wings which will have their marginal coverts intact for a heap of mine that are loaded with under covert hackles…?

The upper parts of a moorhen’s wing glow a curious olive hue in certain light

Prepare hackles by removing unwanted flue from the stem base then gently stroke required fibres forward to rest at right angles of the stalk.  Hackles are best secured by their tip end, just right of where the tweezer points are positioned below.  Two turns is about right for me, but everyone has their own views here.P1030640-001

Said article dressed using a marginal covert hackle…lovely jubbly!

Sunday 16 February 2014

Take me Higher…


Having spent a couple of days poking around lowland rivers, we were keen to get up in the high country where you’re surrounded by vast tussock plains and towering mountains (right).  Such vistas offer little in the way of a backdrop, so clear skies are essential for spotting trout.  Our plans couldn’t have been timed better as a high pressure system had parked itself over NZ’s South Island for some 3 days.  With trout sitting out on soft shoulders or gravel bars and prepared to eat our dry fly imitations the fishing we experienced was best described as top drawer.  Fingers crossed this weather might just hold for an extra day or so!

When conditions come good, High Country rivers offer some of the most spectacular surroundings you could ever wish for…the fishing isn't bad either






High Country trout tend to grow large and are therefore highly prized

Wednesday 12 February 2014

The Beautiful South:


After some much needed shut eye we headed down country to NZ’s Southland.  Thankfully, sunny skies and temperatures in the high 20s greeted us(right), which is always a good sign for terrestrial activity.  With tussock cicadas chirping and some of them even crash landing onto water the trout were definitely looking up for lunch. Careful presentation was the order of the day when Mat and I kicked off our adventure with a string of hefty trout in a stunning valley.



It’s always nice to get one under your belt early in the day and if it happens to be a slab of a fish then so much the better!




~All smiles for Mat Mchugh of Fly Odyssey as he’s about to turn loose another spanking NZ trout taken on a dry fly~


Sunday 9 February 2014

A Great Start:


Eventually landing in Christchurch, our initial drive south lasted all of ten minutes before the rear wheel suffered a blow out.  Although hot and tired, our hunger to fish saw a pit stop in double quick time (right).  An hour later Mat McHugh and I were stalking the margins of a prime NZ stream.  Thankfully, our efforts were rewarded with a handful of stomping trout, getting us off to a flying start.




A sorry looking tyre after the blow out!





…First trout of our 2014 NZ adventure-a solid 5lb trout…

2014-01-24 17.17.25

Sunday 19 January 2014

The Great Escape:


It’s been a while since the last blog, but in truth with river levels remaining high for weeks now there’s been little to report.  In fact, charts (right) read as an all too familiar story of peaks and troughs that refused to drop below 0.50m on my beloved Eden.  The last time I wielded a rod in anger was December 15th…  Thankfully, my mind has been occupied elsewhere, preparing for operation New Zealand next week, which I’ve christened “The Great Escape”, because let’s face it the odds of getting your string pulled here just now are zilch!  Thankfully, time usually spent wandering river banks got put to good use at my vice.  Fingers crossed the toils of my labour will be well rewarded down under when reports will be flying in thick and fast!!!





A mitt full of bluebottles and blowflies should hopefully appeal to trout in New Zealand’s low country rivers





A wedge of foam finished off with rubber legs makes for a great cicada pattern.  Granted it doesn’t look up to much clamped in my fingers, but from beneath the profile screams “cicada”


Saturday 14 December 2013

A couple of flies to try in 2014:

High summer may not be prime time for dry fly fishing in the UK, says Paul Procter, but, thanks to the diminutive blue-winged olive, late evenings can herald memorable sport.



Fieldsports Magazine recently posted their summer 2013 issue..if you fancy a couple of B-WO patterns to dress for next season then visit    I hope you find them as successful as I have

Thursday 12 December 2013

Tried & Tested:


~Tarpon Bunnies look the business dressed on a Partridge Stinger hook~

Prior to our annual saltwater jaunt in Ascension Bay, a small range of flies were fashioned on the new Partridge Stinger hook.  Forged from quality carbon steel, razor sharp with a nice upturned hook point, on paper the Stinger ticks all the right boxes.  However, how would it fair out in the field?  Well, having tangled with tarpon, snook, barracuda and sharks the Stinger came out well and truly on top.  It possess amazing strength and didn’t budge an inch,even when angry jack crevalle charged off to the horizon.  To avoid rust, some would argue that all saltwater hooks should be stainless steel.  Though after using carbon steel, a quick rinse under the tap prevents corrosion from setting in, so no harm done.  Besides they tend to hold their edge for longer too and any sign of bluntness is easily addressed with a stroke of a hook hone.  Problem is now, I’ll have to revise my predator box so all my favourites are dressed on the Stinger! 

When comes to battling feisty fish with, few hooks cut the mustard as well as the Stinger


Monday 2 December 2013

Poles Apart:


50hp engines might be a great way to whizz pangas through mangrove channels en route to favourite flats.  However, when it comes to the actual fishing, a more stealthy means of propulsion is required if you’re to avoid spooking fish.  This comes in the form of a graphite poling pole of some twenty odd feet in length.  Wielding such a cumbersome thing is an art in itself that involves years of learning.  Thankfully, all Casa Viejo Chac guides are masters when poling a flat, giving them plenty of time to spot the ghostly shadows of passing fish.  Trust me, having dabbled on top of a poling platform, maximum concentration was required for maintaining balance and attempting to steer 23ft of fibreglass hull in a predetermined direction… Above: Antonio handles a pole as though it’s a mere bamboo garden cane. 


Ruben digs checks the skiff’s drift as he spots a shoal of feeding bonefish way off to his right






Senior guide William often passes the pole over his head when manoeuvring a skiff into prime position.  What’s impressive is that his pole is fashion from mahogany, which weighs considerably more than graphite.  

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Trigger Happy:


Whilst hunting permit one day, we got side tracked by triggerfish tailing over turtle grass. Granted these humble fish might not be as desirable as bonefish, tarpon or permit, but they’re damn good fun on light tackle.  Triggerfish are also very tolerant, especially if you’re walking the flats, which means that numerous cast can be made without alarming them. Designed to slip into shallow water on their sides they might not match the acceleration of more torpedo shaped species like bonefish.  However, they remain tenacious beasts that never stop pulling, a bit like a freight train… Given this, we were happy to chase triggers where and when!






With hard mouths and crushing teeth for devouring crabs, triggers can be tricky when it comes to setting a hook.  A very firm strip strike is required if you’re to experience success.






Crabs might well be their principal prey, but triggers will just as readily gobble up shrimps which is why our homer Shrimpson scored


Saturday 23 November 2013

Predators like Storms…


Casa Viejo Chac guide Chucho clutching a spanking mangrove tarpon I winkled out on a 1/0 cockroach fly


The reason for coming to Ascension Bay is to avoid nasty weather back home!  Yet, against the rub of the green this season has seen unprecedented storms, which has a telling effect on fish.  Thankfully though the predators seem hungrier than ever and remained active to give us tremendous sport over the last few days.  In particular tarpon and snook have been our main focus, but plenty of barracuda and sharks latched onto our flies too.  Consequently, we’re now in a dilemma as to whether we want those lazy summer days so evocative of this part of the world to return…

P1020217Pete Eville displays a cracking snook (one of many) that we ambushed as they sidled along the edges on mangrove channels in search of sardines


We found plenty of cuda too which are in an aggressive mood at the moment, so much so that this beast latched onto my shrimp pattern intended for bonefish.  Heaven knows how it never sliced through the 10lb tippet with gnashers like that!