Monday, 20 January 2014

First Cast Of The Year

This blog has been a little quiet lately but hopefully that's about to change just as the weather is beginning to do. I managed out for a couple of hours on the canal last week and it was great to finally be casting again. My original plan was to go after some perch but after a quick visit to the tackle shop and a long gaze at some savage fourplay softbaits I switched to pike. Perhaps not the best idea as it's been a while since I've had a pike from the stretch of canal I was going to be fishing but what the hell. These lures are very good for perch also but the size of perch I usually catch from the canal rarely exceeds 1/2lb so I wasn't thinking of perch when purchasing these.

I learned of the sad news that my local tackle shop is closing down. Country Life in Balgreen has been around for about as long as I can remember but I guess all things come to an end and it seems that there just isn't enough profit in bricks and mortar any more. So it joins the ever growing list of quality tackle shops that are shutting shop, fortunately living in Edinburgh there's still options but there's really only one other shop I frequent and that's the Orvis shop, it's still possible to pop in, have a chat and pick up a few bargains for the tying bench. So, farewell to Country Life!

4 PLay Softbait 5g Jig

I arrived at the canal in a bit of a funny mood after my visit to the tackle shop and not really feeling the usual buzz when I approach a session. My head was still full of questions about the demise of fly fishing, why aren't kids fishing, has online really killed the high street, will we continue to lose smaller shops replaced by megastores and so on...

Well, I set up my tackle and started searching, I really searched every area I could even putting my lures in real peril but after about an hour I had nothing to show for it. I decided to move along the canal a bit further heading back into the city and then I found a couple of cormorants feeding on roach. Try as I did I couldn't get a photo of one with a fish in it's gob, I think they were a little spooked by my presence and after a short while they scampered.

Cormorant on the move

I fished on and was soon on a stretch of the canal that used to produce good numbers of pike for me but I fished every corner without success. I've heard of dwindling stocks in these parts but it could just have been a poor session, maybe the wrong bait for the day or I just wasn't hitting it right somehow. I'm looking forward to fishing a few more waters with these lures for pike and I have a few in mind that I know have plenty of pike so it'll be interesting to see if I can hook into a few on those waters.

I had a great time catching perch on the canal and burns last year using smaller softbaits so I'll probably do a bit more of that but for now I'm looking forward to just getting some fishing in where I can, the trout season gets ever closer but this year I expect I'll be doing a little less trouting and exploring other opportunities, more species, more waters and hopefully more fun.

I think I blanked my first cat of last year too and it turned out OK so fingers crossed, the sun will come and the fishes will feed.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Tenkara Line Extension

I've seen a lot of discussion about how to fish a variable length of line when tenkara fishing for those situations that demand a little extra reach. Fixed line fishing generally doesn't make changing the length of line quick or easy and switching lines isn't the best as it's time consuming.

One of the best solutions I found was this: but I thought this could be improved on a little by adding an additional component.

I haven't tried this yet but I'll be sure to give it a go next time I'm out fishing and I'll try to explain it as best I can here.

The Versa line by Teton Tenkara which is the best line mod I've seen uses a seamless ring and a slip knot to extend the line from a few feet to a few yards however the extension is attached at the rod tip meaning you would you have to remove the line from the rod and I'd like to avoid that.

The idea I have is to use seamless rings combined with snap hooks. below I'll try to do a rough diagram until I get some images:

Line Set Up:

                           Main Line                                                  Tippet
Rod Tip---------------------------Snap Hook/Seamless Ring----------------------Snap Hook/Fly


                                            Extension Line
Seamless Ring--------------------------------------------Snap Hook

This system allows the extension of the line quickly and the use of a snap hook will also allow the fly to be changed quickly if you fancy that. The tippet only needs to be unhooked from the main line and onto the extension and then the extension onto the main line without any need for knots or removal of the main line from the rod tip. you could carry a couple of extensions i.e one long and one short allowing you to switch from a standard line length to a loner line and even a very long line should you wish to do that. The weight of the seamless rings and snap hooks is minimal and I don't see it affecting the casting of the line however until I have a chance to put this to the test it remains only an idea. Both snap hooks and seamless rings are widely available and inexpensive to buy, in tenkara we generally use the same main line over and over so this would only need set up once and then it's ready to go each time you go fishing until your main line needs replaced. The times you need or wish to extend your line may be few depending on the waters you fish but this could become and invaluable tool.

Seamless Rings

Snap Hooks

I hope some of you will give this a try, I'd love to get some feedback on your experiences using this system or if you think it could be improved upon I'd be happy to receive your imput.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Little Time For Fishing

Since August I've had little time for fishing due to changes in my personal life. I  have left self employment behind and returned to employee status, the pressure of the economy finally caught up with me. A new addition to my family and learning to drive have all impacted on the amount of free time I have available, not to mention how tired I feel when I am free. Finding time to go fishing just hasn't been easy lately but not to worry, I'm sure that come the new trout season I'll be more used to this new lifestyle and with the use of a car at least getting to my fishing spots should be easier.

Most of my season was spent with a tenkara rod developing my skills and learning to appreciate both the unique advantages and limitations of this style of fly fishing. Next season and if time permits this winter I will continue to fish tenkara and continue to simplify my fishing experience on the water.

Some of my highlights of the last season were catching my biggest WoL trout of 18", locating perch in a burn I hold dear and catching them on light spinning gear, fishing with the guys from Artlink Edinburgh and tenkara fishing high up in the Cairngorms introducing my uncle to tenkara, my return to the Borders was also highly enjoyable.

I have contributed less to other websites less this year (especially tenkara ones) as I found that more and more of my opinions would cause conflict with others. I don't really understand too well why this should be the case but people are so easily offended these days and everything seems to be taken as some sort of personal attack when really it's just opinion. I became so fed up with the tenkara community and their blinkered view that I had started to post comments that I new would get a reaction and having reached that point I thought it best if I ceased to communicate with them, most of then at least.

I've been thinking a lot recently about the flies that I fish and as I spent much of last season fishing only a handful of patterns and for the most part unweighted flies I've had to wonder if along with simplifying my fishing if I can't simplify my flies. Last season I discovered a new way to tie dry flies and I found myself tying more and more flies using this technique and fishing them was very successful, I guess it's this that has led to me thinking more about tying simpler flies and what I can remove from a fly rather than what I can add. One problem this poses is that I've got a treasure trove of materials which I would no longer have any use for if I was to go down the route of simplifying all my flies.

During last season I relied less and less on fly selection and moved more towards presentation, one of the flies I favoured was a simple HF Quill that can be presented in a various ways. I fished it on the surface as a dry, sub surface as a wet and learned to use the currents to fish it deep as a "nymph" along with various manipulations to attract a take. I guess I started doing this because I realised that instead of using up time changing flies I could alter my presentation to the same effect, a fish on!

The basics of this fly make it really easy to modify and create wets, dries and nymphs using the same basic steps, it's just a case of taking the basic fly and adding a little dubbing, forcing the hackle back or forward and keeping the materials as basic as possible. I'd like to do some more videos for my youtube channel about this tying technique to show just how easy it is to modify. It can also be easily modified on the riverbank but I suppose that is true of most fly patterns.

As usual I'm dreaming of next season, fishing trips and brown trout but mostly I'm thinking about tenkara. It really seems to have infected me, when I think of fly fishing now I don't think about 8' #5 weights, fly lines, indicators, beadheads, streamers or upstream vs. downstream I think about tenkara, how to simplify and present my fly to the fish. There really is something infectious about simplifying things, I've never carried loads of gear around with me or over complicated my fishing but with tenkara I've learned how to take simplicity to a whole new level and it's been very enjoyable. My whole fishing kit now weighs less than 200g, I've had fly boxes heavier than that.

While I am becoming more inclined to fish tenkara there's still room for reels and fly rods in my armory along with the light spinning gear and fishing trips will still be made to the sea, reservoirs and lochs I'm sure.

I hope to be posting some new videos soon but fishing may have to wait.