Avoiding the blank!

Not News exactly, but some timely reminders from club member Nicholas Fitton on some things to think about on those days when the fish just aren’t co-operating…


I. Dry fly – What size of fly? Match hatch with GRHE, Greenwell, Klinkhammer, Cul de Canard, Sedge, Black Gnat, Knotted Midge or use an attractor, e.g. Wulff, Adams, flashy Klinkhammer, Elk-Hair Caddis, Red Palmer, etc.

2. Upstream wet fly or nymph? 

3. Upstream wet fly: Snipe and Purple on dropper (or Partridge & Orange or Greenwell, Waterhen Bloa or Cochy-bonddu), nymph on point = Killer Bug, PTN, Tungsten Nymph, Goldhead, Diawl Bach. Dead drift or retrieved?

4. Nymph: PTN, Diawl Bach, Tungsten N., Goldhead – which colour? Black, Olive, Pale, PTN type? What size? 14 is a good start. Try 16 in low water, 12 in big water. Beetle patterns are good.

5. Static/dead-drift nymph or worked/animated? If so, what speed? Trial and error – find out! A “plopped in” nymph/beetle works well under tree cover, where terrestrials rain down. With little tree cover, work your fly. In fast water, no need to work your fly; the stiller the pool, the more you can work your fly.  (The same is true for upstream wet fly, sometimes it pays to work/animate your flies, sometimes to fish them dead drift. Experiment!)

6. Wry fly: fishing dry and wet at the same time? Don’t neglect it in moving water or in tricky light conditions. Avoid in low, clear water. Twin dry fly (two dry flies of differing size) is worth a go too.

7.  In very low, clear water, esp. on bright days, don’t use upstream wet fly, use a nymph. Choose something smallish, and not too heavy if the bed is rocky. Diawl Bach was made for this job. Spiders too. Consider leader length and diameter. Be prepared to fish fine and far off.

8. Don’t forget downstream wet fly, if conditions are right. Also, as you fish upstream with wet fly, you can make the odd downstream cast too, e.g. through burn mouths, in backwaters or across big bends. Remember to ‘bob’ your dropper fly on such casts. Be prepared for a fish to come for the dropper, but actually take the point fly on these occasions.

9. Never grind on fishless with the same tactic. To break a blank, you may have to be unconventional. A bobbed dropper fly is fatally attractive to trout, but choose the correct spot to try it. Try a very big nymph or dry fly if all else fails. Try dapping from a tree! Try a fly in your box which another angler gave you but which you have never deigned to use. Brother anglers do not, generally, hand out crap flies, but little miracle workers! Try that green flashy beetle someone handed you years ago.

I0.  At dusk, on summer eves, when sedges and moths are about, a big wet fly (or Bustard) is a winner when dragged across a large, still pool. Choose one away from trees, with a free area for your back cast, and no rabbit holes in the bank to break your ankle in the dark. Think creatively when things get tough, there’s usually a way to winkle out a brace. Consider going to a different beat, or river. Go where other anglers aren’t. Crowded car parks make for blank days. Get up early and beat the un-thinking crowds, especially in hot weather. 5.00 a.m. to 9.00 a.m. is a time when lazy, unimaginative anglers are asleep!

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