There’s certain things that can ruin your ideal fishing trip you have planned in your head, such as arriving at the waterside and realising you’ve forgotten a rod, losing a fly box to the river or perhaps even falling in but these all fade into insignificance on my top two things that ruin a trip for me. The first and perhaps the most obvious bane of the fly fisherman’s life is bad weather, not a little rain, or a little breeze but really bad weather, gales usually. The second is something that will no doubt rub some people up the wrong way, especially if they are exponents of the method but downstream wet fly fishers really get my goat. Just get out the way, will you?!
I arrived at the river on Wednesday night to huge numbers of spinners in the air and the wind was fairly modest as forecast. I had high hopes of waiting a little longer until the light faded and the big fish started to feed. I got down to the river and the first thing I found on this flat was two guys fishing. Two guys fishing whilst not ideal it was ok, I spoke to them and they were planning to stay where they were so I went up above them and stopped beside a fish rising in the middle of the stream. This fish wasn’t a big fish, you could tell by its slashy rises but this was my warm up, ping him then go catch the bigguns. It turned out to be harder than I thought and each cast produced a reasonable drift that just incurred some microdrag as it came into the fish’s window. I was approaching the fish from directly across the river so a little replanning was required and a few steps upstream followed. Approaching the fish from around a metre upstream and across from it it was fairly easy to cast across, throw an upstream reach and get a superb drift over the fish, he took first cast. It may have been a small fish but as always there was something educational to be gained.
The problem was that after this I met my wet fly nemesis. Now in fairness, he was a nice chap, and older gent who had been out enjoying himself but what I really struggle with is people spooking fish on the flats that I want to target and then dreaming up every excuse in the book for not catching them. On a flat do you really think the big fish will respond well to someone wading down the middle of the river and unnaturally swinging wet flies? I don’t. The other thing I cannot understand is why anyone would take this approach when fish are rising all around? It may be easy and dry fly fishing, especially on this river may be difficult but why don’t you learn it? The big issue was this guy was walking down through the exact spot on the flat I wanted to fish and to top it off when I spoke to him he was telling me it had been a bit disappointing. When he’d started fishing down there were fish rising but as he worked down they’d “gone off” – I had to bite my lip not to blurt out whether he thought it might have had something to do with him walking down the flat fishing flies in a stupid manner! This really annoys me, people always have a need to blame the river rather than look to how they’re fishing and how there every came to be a blind belief in swinging wet flies I don’t know. To top all of this off, very strong winds were forecast for the following day, these arrived quicker, whipped up the water and killed the hatch stone dead. Great. Oh yeah, I fell on my backside twice on the walk back to the car too, superb night out!
I don’t actually have a problem with wet flies, nymphs and imitative spiders etc are great but only under the provision you fish them properly. You can fish them downstream with more natural presentations using some reaches and mends but try tying on flies to match the hatch and dead drift them, you’ll keep me happy, you won’t spook as many fish and if you do it right, you’ll catch much better fish! Swinging them across the current, well, that’s just bollocks.