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!


Monday, 18 November 2013

Predators on the chew:


P1000215Although permit and bonefish were off the menu, predatory species seemed to be enjoying the unseasonable drop in temperature. Poling the mangroves, we had rich pickings for sharks, jacks and barracuda.  There were moments of excitement too when snook flirted with us by edging out from deep within the mangroves though best of all had to be those tarpon.  Most of our group managed to tangle with one or two of these impressive creatures, even on the bleakest of days.  Pictured above is Paul Little with his very first tarpon, a cheeky grin says it all.  Admittedly, this might not equate to one of those ocean going giants, but that didn’t matter one jot to Paul…

Lemon sharks like this wandered up onto the flats, giving us plenty of opportunities to tempt them.







My baitfish flies have been taking a beating from both barracuda and sharks. So much so that the resin heads suffered damage beyond repair.  Fortunately, the fly box is full! 

Friday, 15 November 2013

A Stormy Start:


Our annual campaign got off to a stormy start in Ascension Bay.  Thunderstorms day and night pounded us and the cooling water made bonefish lethargic.  Thankfully, the predatory fish seem more tolerate and given fleeting glimpses of sunshine, we found them in abundance… Above, Paul Little ponders a waterproof jacket as we motor away from an approaching storm.





Guides and clients paddle through flooded fields whilst making their way to waiting skiffs













The roads round Punta Allen remain in a sorry state after days of rain…We’re still waiting for it too brighten up

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Mother of all Hatches:

Our recent trip to Bosnia climaxed with an incredible couple of days when hatches of Blue-Winged Olives literally went off the scale (above).  Mark Irvine, Mita Balaban and myself found a length of water where B-WOs duns stretched from bank to bank.  Rather than guide, I invited Mita to fish, as it’s not everyday you experience such a phenomenon.  With the hatch lasting some four hours we made absolute pigs of ourselves and why not…?  Of course, it wasn’t all roses round the door, with so many naturals about the trout and grayling had a PhD in detecting any impostor. Though a little patience and perseverance usually meant you got your fish and boy, we had some thumping grayling.







~Good friend Mark Irvine displays a lump of a grayling, which he tempted using a #18 F Fly~














It would have been unfair to ask Mita Balaban to sit this one out…he scored quickly too, again a #18 CdC pattern did the trick








…Minutes later and I’m in…Bosnian grayling are truly stunning creatures…


Saturday, 5 October 2013

From Sun to Rain:


Our first group of the Fly Odyssey Bosnian adventure (right) enjoyed a warm climate, calling for shirt sleeve order.  However, week two dawned wet and miserable.  Amazingly, tumbling temperatures didn’t prevent flies from hatching.  In fact they simply encouraged them, treating us to flurries of Blue-Winged Olives that reached blizzard status.  Thousands of duns stuck to the surface for longer periods saw the water erupt into life as trout and grayling gorged themselves. Given this, the group couldn’t have asked for a better start…




Damp conditions saw hatches last for several hours, treating us to dry fly fishing like never before!










The horrible weather might have required a couple more layers, but it also prevented B-WOs from lifting off, making them an easy target for trout and grayling






Patience and guile reward Hilary Langan with several plump grayling on her first morning.  Pictured with head guide Mita Balaban her smile says it all










Mark Irvine was just as quick to get to grips with the Ribnik’s trout on a size 18 shuttlecock emerger

Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Boys strike Gold:


The Ribnik has treated us to some very special days when B-WOs emerged like no tomorrow.  Best of all the whole group tangled with decent sized grayling with specimens topping 2lb.  And whilst these fish are technically “European Grayling” they exhibit a rich golden hue, unlike those found closer to home.  First to strike was Paul Mercer (right), he even managed to raise a smile for the camera…grumpy old sod… Next up was Brian Garner, who tangled with several notable fish.  Then Mark Whitmarsh, Paul Maxwell and Pete Legge got amongst them.  Best of all though they all scored using dry flies.  And whilst identifying fly life couldn’t have been easier, presenting your imitation totally drag free was perhaps our greatest challenge.

Brian Garner contemplates the best way to address rising fish on a mirror like surface which afforded grayling an age to deliberate on whether to take your fly or not…?

P1010365 P1010376 



With B-WOs hatching on most afternoons, we relied heavily on the Pearly butt Shuttlecock to charm Bosnian grayling




Once you landed your prize, you could only marvel at the exquisite golden hues found on their flanks…picture postcard stuff!


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Big in Bosnia:


Our initial visits to the Ribnik proved beyond doubt that “big is best” in every way.  Firstly the fly life beggars belief as huge stonefly nymphs and cased caddis carpeted the underside of every stone.  Then there’s the epic hatches of Blue-Winged Olives too.  Granted this small ephemerid might not be considered large by any means, but they’re present in ‘big’ numbers.  In fact, during a hatch, you stand opened mouth and marvel at their sheer numbers.  No wonder then that these spring fed streams produce stonking great trout and grayling.



…Blue-Winged Olives emerged in their thousands.  Curiously they’re livery is more a mahogany shade than out and out olive…




With so much invertebrate life, little wonder that Bosnia is home to enormous grayling like this thumping hen fish.  Incredibly specimens like this were nothing out of the ordinary… P1010310

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Bosnia Bound:

Preparing for Bosnia and heading out this weekend with 2 groups.  We’ll be hoping for bumper hatches of B-WOs and Pale Wateries, which should get the vast shoals of grayling on the chew!  Word has it the rivers are in fine fettle.  Coverage permitting, hope to post during our stay

…Ribnik grayling grow fat on a diet of upwinged flies…


Monday, 16 September 2013

Aptly Named…


Apologies, the temptation to play on “Aptly Named” was too much… Anyway, I’ve been fooling around with my Nondescript Terrestrial by incorporating a turn (or two) of hackle and come up with the APT (All Purpose Terrestrial).  Of late this modest pattern has been doing some serious damage amongst our wild trout populations, including several notable specimens.  Incidentally, grayling have an eye for it too.  Depending on what fish are feeding the APT may pass for a black gnat, beetle, ant or any other small, dark terrestrial.  The original boasts a fluffy CdC wing.  However, when fish are feeding hard, it’s easy to become impatience by wanting your fly back in the mix.  Now, a version tied with TMC Aero Wing floats more readily and requires far less maintenance.  An added bonus is brightly coloured yarns can be used to deal with bad light.  One sporting a fluorescent yellow wing is a particular favourite.  This coupled with a hackle (clipped underneath) gives you a fly capable of floating in the rougher parts of any trout stream.  Spinning (literally dubbing) the herl around your thread achieves a durable abdomen.  Dabbing the hook shank prior to winding this rope helps no end too.  My first choice of hackle shade is pale dun, simply because this might pass for the splayed wings of a trapped natural rather than just suggesting legs.  That said, fish will happily pounce on a black hackled dressing without a second glance.  In truth, you can ring the changes to whatever suits your needs.  A good, honest pattern, you shouldn’t encounter any drama when dressing this fly, giving you more time to get on with the important things like fooling trout.

~The original APT~


Hook: TMC 2488 #16-18

Thread: Veniard’s 14/0 black Sheer

Abdomen: Peacock herl (3 strands)

Wing: Beige or Natural CdC

Hackle: Pale dun or black cock

Thorax: Orvis peacock Ice Dub

~APT Variant~


Hook: TMC 2488 #16-18

Thread: Veniard’s 14/0 black Sheer

Abdomen: Dyed black pheasant tail fibres (3 strands)

Wing: TMC Aero Wing-white, fl yellow or orange

Hackle: Pale dun or black cock

Thorax: Orvis peacock Ice Dub


~A handful of APTs ready for action~


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Black Gnat Bonanza:


My journal shows that Black Gnats have been tumbling to the water day after day for over 2 weeks now and there’s little sign of any let up…  Such are their numbers that trout are sitting out for long periods as gnats get filtered downstream, often tight to banks(right).  Surrounded by topping trout, it’s easy to assume they’re a pushover when in reality having seen and eaten so many naturals they hold a PhD in detecting impostors!  To fool them then, your imitation has to behave just as the real thing.  Even a slight hint of drag would put them down and in many cases these fish quietly slip away a few minutes later.  Introducing some sort of slack into your delivery became the key and is best done by instantly lower the rod tip as soon as you’ve tapped it forward.  This partially collapses the loop allowing it to drop to the water in a series of wiggles.








Get it right and trout like this were in the offing…









Grayling too were on the cards and come this time of year they’re in peak condition



By and far my most successful pattern was the APT (All Purpose Terrestrial)…

full dressing will appear in next blog post


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Brave, or just plain stupid?



When we were pursuing salmon in the frozen north, Icelander Stjani Ben always changed flies with impressive speed (right) . His dexterity in a biting wind must be down to his Viking blood…  However, one query I have is about where he to chooses to hold the hook (below) when doing a fly swap, especially considering it’s a treble. I can’t make my mind up if he’s brave, or just plain stupid…?



…A mere flinch, sneeze or cough and this treble could easily end up stapling Stjani’s lips together…


Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Dry Fly Bliss:


Arriving back from Iceland, it seems the second brood of Black Gnats are in full swing.  Over the last week we’ve experienced top drawer dry fly fishing when thousands of gnats carpeted our rivers for up to 6 hours a day (right).  Given their numbers, obviously trout were out on the chew.  However, a large scale event like this often tempts those huge more coveted fish out of their hidey holes. That said, you still needed to be on your game as seeing so many naturals, trout could spot any impostors a mile off whether it be a poor imitation or the way you presented it.  The APT (All Purpose Terrestrial) came up trumps on many occasions to help me bag some pretty hefty fish.



Bibio johannis (Black Gnat) up close and a single adult amounts to very little.  Yet, when scores of them tumble to the surface, trout populations tend to go bonkers over them…




Keeping low was only part of the answer, a sound imitation coupled with careful presentation got me amongst fish





A solid specimen with huge pectoral fins and in absolute prime condition…stunning!





Bragging Rights…and why not?  This lunker was the best of a special week.  He snaffled my fly in water all of 18” deep.  The ensuing fight left me a gibbering wreck for several minutes afterward


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Egg on my face…


A trout bum clutching salmon, I could pass a single fish off as an accident, but three in succession leaves no room for manoeuvre… Caught red handed dabbling for salmon, that’s my dyed in the wool trout reputation down the swanny.  A lame excuse, but we chased them very much like you do trout…and bloody good fun it was too.  Close friends will be keen to learn the last three fish on this trip were silver tourists!




This well conditioned fish head and tailed on my fly…brilliant





~A handsome cock fish just about to be turned loose~




Our trip draws to a close and Icelandic custom dictates a wee tipple or three.  Benni wasn’t shy when it came to pouring some sort of local liqueur.  It looked like ground up lava dust to me, but thankfully tasted as smooth as a single malt