Fly fishing blog

game angling instructors association

Well done Joseph!

Joseph was a complete beginner really, only having done some fly fishing with his Granddad about 20 years ago. He quickly picked up the casting technique and continued to improve throughout the day. He lost 4 fish, one of which he hooked himself, before landing 2 cracking rainbow trout. Well done.

Joseph with his first rainbow trout.

Well done Jennifer

Jennifer had done some fly fishing before in New Zealand but it was a very long time ago, so a refresher course in how to cast the fly was needed. After an hour or so she had re-learnt the basics and was starting to cast a fly again. It was not ideal conditions for fishing with bright sun and a cold easterly wind so I knew the trout would be a bit deeper, with a little help from me she landed her bag limit of 5 hard fighting Rainbows with a cracking 3lb fish.

Jennifer with 5 Hawkridge Rainbow Trout

Well done Peter

I met Peter at Hawkridge on a beautiful and warm Sunny April day, He had done some fly fishing before but needed some help and guidance with his casting. After about 30 mins ironing out where he was going wrong he was on the water fishing. His casting steadily improved throughout the day and with a little help from me he went home with 5 fish including this cracking 4lb beauty below! exceptional performance for a novice and his best ever days fly fishing.

Peter with his 2lb trout.

Well done Pete

I met Pete at Hawkridge on a beautiful Sunny April day, albeit a bit cold with a Northerly wind. Pete had done no fly fishing before but I had him casting in about an hour or so. The wind was variable so after swapping banks twice we ended up where we had started. The fish were deep due to the sun and wind so a switch to a sinking line soon got results, two fish lost and then this pretty 2 1/2 pound stockie was duly landed, well done.

chris with his first hawkridge reservoir rainbow trout

Well done Neil and Chris

Neil and Chris booked in for the 12th April 2021 and were complete beginners. We arranged to meet at Hawkridge Trout fishery. The guys picked up the basic casting quick enough and due to the wind direction we took a walk over the dam to the other side of the lake. Bathed in lovely April sun but with a cold northerly wind the fish were not that interested, so after a couple of hours and with the wind more favourable he headed back to our original site, this turned out to be a good move, over the course of little more than two hours the guys had landed four fish to 3lb, two nice brace shown below. Well done!

Neil and Chris 4 rainbow trout.

Well done Emlyn

Emlyn was a complete beginner, but soon picked up the basic fly casting, with some fine tuning he improved throughout the day. He managed to play and bring to the net this nice 2 1/2lb Rainbow trout!

fly fishing for beginners hawkridge

Well done Dave

Dave was a novice fly fisherman who was struggling with some areas of casting and fly fishing in general. I took the time to learn what these issues were prior to us meeting. His casting was already pretty good but with some pointers it improved instantly giving him an extra 5 to 10 yards distance. Other areas such as fly selection and leaders also helped him understand more about the sport. He landed two perfect Rainbow trout at Hawkridge and missed / lost about 5 more. He was kind enough to leave me the following review : 

Positive: Professionalism, Quality, Responsiveness, Value
Had a lesson with James on 8th April at Hawkridge Reservoir Somerset. Not one of his younger students as I won’t see 60 again and prior to the day with James I was able to cast a fly so not a complete novice.

Great day and I can not recommend his patient instructional style enough. Taught me how to single and double haul cast. I had a list of queries regarding what I was doing wrong and problems I had when fly fishing and James took the time to address each of them, regardless if it was about tackle, reels, lines, leaders or flies.

To round the day off caught two good fish as well as losing several others.

Hope to fish with you again when we catch up James.

Thanks for the great day

Fly fishing lessons Hawkridge Reservoir

Looking forward to 2021 season

To say 2020 was a tough year for many is an under statement! hopefully the end is in sight and we can all get back to some form of normality.  I am very much looking forward to the new fishing season and meeting some lovely guests again. Tight line everybody. April is now pretty much booked up, and I will report back here on how the first few days of the new season have gone.

Fly fishing 2021 season

Why is fishing so hard in the summer?

Rainbow trout originate from Northern America and the Kola region of Russia, they are naturally cold water fish preferring a water temperate under 16 degrees C. Anything over this and oxygen levels start to drop and the fish become stressed, loosing condition. In the warmest summer months of late June to early September the water temperature can easily exceed 20 degrees, in deeper lakes this is not so much of a problem, as the fish will simply sit on the bottom. On smaller stillwaters the fish literally have to fight just to survive.

Catching them is very difficult if indeed even possible. First thing in the morning and last thing in the evening are the best times. That said when the water temperatures drop fishing can be excellent. The best months for fly fishing are October through to May. 

Fly fishing in the summer

Well done Shaun on your first Elinor Rainbow.

Shauns wife had brought him a fly fishing gift voucher for his Birthday, and we duly met At Elinor trout fishery on a very windy and overcast day. Sean had fished before but needed his casting technique improved which we duly got to work on. Conditions were challenging with a strong southerly wind touching 35 mph at times. However his casting improved quickly and he landed two trout in total. A good result given many experienced anglers blanked on the day. He sent me this nice email afterwards.

 " Morning James,
Thank you for a great day, was very enjoyable and the trout was delicious, happy wifey!
Feel a lot more confident with my casting. 
Have a good day.

Sean with his rainbow trout

Well done Scott and Brendan

I decided to have a day out fishing with an ex customer now friend and his mate Brendan. We arrived at summerfields just before 9am and tackled up. Weather conditions were perfect, overcast, cool and a light wind. We were catching hard fighting rainbows straight from the first cast, in all we took home 4 fish each around the 3lb mark, and returned about 20 each. We caught on everything, dry flies, buzzers and nymphs.

scott and brendan catching trout.

Well done Warren on your first Trout

I met warren at 10am at Summerfields on a bright and hot day, we moved down to the end of the lake and he picked the basic casting up very quickly. I had him fishing quickly as I knew the hotter the day got the harder the fishing would be. He made 10 casts and then BANG he hooked his first hard fighting Rainbow Trout just under 3lbs. He played it well and it was duly netted! He hooked and lost a few more on what was a tough day. I think he may be hooked.

warrens rainbow trout

Summerfields Trout Fishery

Summerfields trout fishery is under new ownership, I have been speaking to the new owners, Sean and James, and it looks like they are putting in some really hard work to make this fishery great again. 

They have an open weekend 6th and 7th June 2020 so why not pop along and enjoy some great sport. If we don't support small fisheries like this we will simply loose them and it will be another trout fishery turned into coarse. Summerfields is top of my list for teaching beginners to fly fish, because its easily accessible, the banks are easy to cast from not many trees to get snagged on, and its well stocked with hard fighting Browns and Rainbows. I will be visiting soon and doing a full review.

James with a big brown trout

Well Done Jeremy On Your 3lb Rainbow And A Second!

A cracking day out with Jeremy on his first ever fly fishing lesson, he picked the basic casting up fairly quickly and once he started fishing had a take in about 5 minutes but missed the fish.

Not to worry his patience was rewarded by this cracking 3lb Rainbow trout followed by a stockie shortly after.

Well done!

jeremy with a 3lb rainbow trout

Well Done Ben & Ian For 3 Fish Each Including An 8Lb Rainbow

ben and ians 3 trout

Ben and Ian booked two days out with me on a Friday and Saturday. The fishing on Friday was hard from the bank, with many people struggling although we did manage to hook a couple of trout. A change of tactics was needed for Saturday so I booked a couple of boats.

I met the guys at 9 am and conditions were grim, a strong northerly wind that was freezing and bright sun, but we got started. After an hour or so the fish began to feed and both guys hooked and landed 3 fish each, loosing a few more. The last fish of the day caught by Ben was a cracking 8lb monster, that he played really well. Great day guys!

Well Done Brian On Catching A  Cracking Brace Of Trout.

brian holding two fly caught rainbow trout

Brian is a Carp fisherman who's lovely wife bought him one of my fly fishing gift vouchers for Christmas, Lucky man! We agreed to meet at 9 am at Summerfields but Brian arrived at 8 am (keen or what) 

We got to grips with the fly casting and within an hour I tied on a blue flash Damsel and he started to fish for real. 

As I was busy looking through the fly box for the next fly to use I heard a shout and looked over to see Brian's rod bent. He landed a nice stockie of about 1lb 10oz, followed later in the day by a cracking 3lb trout! Well done.

Well Done Tom On Hooking, Playing And Landing Your First Trout.

tom with his first trout

Tom and I met on a windy Saturday morning and conditions were far from ideal. He got to grips very quickly with the basic overhead cast so I got him fishing within an hour. As his casting steadily improved I grabbed my own rod and fished next to him, in no time I was into a fish and passed Tom the rod. He played the fish well and when we netted it we were both impressed to see a lovely 4lb Rainbow Trout! the biggest from the fishery that week!

I duly hooked another 2lb trout which Tom landed, and then the pinnacle of the day, watching toms line he had just cast I noticed a twitch. "that's a fish I screamed" he struck and landed another 2lb beauty. Well done!

I Have Been Appointed Tackle Tester For Fishing Republic Plc And Yorkshire Game Angling

fishing republic logo

 I have been asked to test fly tackle on behalf of Fishing Republic and Yorkshire Game Angling. Over the next few months I will be posting my tackle reviews on this blog, and they will also appear on the Facebook pages of the tackle suppliers.

I hope to be testing everything from fly lines, rods, reels and flies.

Well Done Chris, 3 Fish On Your First Lesson!

Chris's two rainbow trout

Chris was booked in at 9 am with me and we duly met and had a quick chat about the day ahead. The weather was dry but very windy not ideal for a first fly fishing lesson. However he picked up the basics of casting very quickly and after changing position to a more sheltered bay I felt it was time he started to fish for real. I tied on a short leader with a cats whisker and he was casting a respectable 10 - 12 yards. In only about 20 mins I noticed a pull on the line and before I could shout strike he had already done it!. Playing the fish well it was duly landed.

Two more fish followed on what was to be fair a hard day for fishing! well done. He also sent me this lovely email that night.

Hi James,

Just a quick email to say many many thanks for the tuition today at Summerfields. It was an excellent day and I got a lot out of it. Really enjoyed the sport and am definitely going to look at getting some of my own equipment and getting back there as soon as I can to keep the practice fresh in my head and because I enjoyed it so much.

The tuition itself was excellent from yourself and catching those 3 fish on my own, so to speak, was a massive buzz.

Just for one final time, I should of written it down lol, can you remind me what pattern of fly we used today? I know you mentioned other popular patterns, like Damsels, daddies, buzzers and montanas, all of which I am going to remember.
Thanks again James, learned loads and had an awesome day.  Looking forward to continuing with fly fishing


Well Done Tim On Landing Your First Trout!

Tim with his first ever rainbow trout

Alan and Tim booked a fly fishing lesson on Saturday and we all met at Summerfields at 9:30am. After running through how trout feed and how we catch them we quickly moved on to the basics of fly casting. The two boys picked up the basic roll cast and overhead cast in no time and we were fishing by lunchtime. Conditions were not great, in fact it was windy and bloody freezing with most other fisherman heading for home by 3 pm. Not us though and we had the place to ourselves by mid afternoon. 

A quick change of location (heading up to the point) saw plenty of fish moving. Culminating in Tim landing his first Rainbow of about 2 lbs. Well done.

Pochard Trout Fishery Review

pochard trout fishery lodge

So on Tuesday I met a former customer / pupil at Pochard Trout Fishery, he is a member and had decided to take me fishing as a thank you. Pochard is a small lake no more than two acres, set in a tree lined valley and stocked with Rainbows and Browns. The most notable feature is the brand new lodge, built out of stone and boasting a weighing room, small tackle area, toilets and a restaurant and bar. The finishing is excellent, solid oak tables and a huge hard wood veranda built out over the lake.

We met the bailiff Ray, who discussed tactics and flies with us and off we set, to the dam end which is the deepest and widest point on the lake. With few fish showing and none taking we decided to move up yo the shallow narrow part of the lake as we had seen plenty of trout cruising as we walked to the lodge. The fishery boasts lots of purpose built platforms and whilst some casting can be tricky its pretty accessible. I would not however recommend it for complete beginners as the casting can be challenging in some areas.

After about 20 minutes my fishing partner Scott was into a nice rainbow of about 2lb caught on a cats whisker. Three more Trout quickly followed between us and one perch, so we decided to break for a liquid lunch in the lodge. Very reasonable drinks prices and a good friendly atmosphere.

The afternoon was a bit quieter with only a few pulls, the trout were not really interested, but it was a lovely few hours fishing.

Well Done Scott On Landing Three Rainbows

scotts three rainbow trout

This was Scott's second fly fishing lesson with me but his first going after Trout, as the previous one was for Pike. 

We set off at 7:30am for Draycote Water, got tackled off and jumped in the boat. Conditions were not ideal a strong easterly wind and no fish moving. However after just 10 minutes I was into a Trout and passed the rod to Scott, who promptly lost the fish!. Never Mind, only 30 mins later I heard him shout "fish on" and looked to see his rod bent double.

 He played it well and after a 4 minute battle the fish was netted. Two more Trout followed as well as another lost fish and a few missed pulls. Well done mate!

A Cracking Day At Draycote Water

a cracking 4lb rainbow

So I decided to have some "me time" last week and headed of to Draycote Water near Rugby for a days boat fishing. Conditions were ok, very windy and sunny, but my heart sank a bit when the fishery bailiff told me it was fishing hard with a rod average of only 2 fish.! After getting my ticket and finding my boat I headed up to the north dam to try my luck. Looking at the other boats I could not see any bass bags hanging over the side of their boats, meaning nobody was catching yet. After about 50 minutes and not a single take, I upped anchor and took a slow float down past the dam to see if I could see any fish moving. I spotted some trout feeding on the surface so dropped anchor and began to fish, a nice dry sedge pattern but not a single take.

I then noticed a fish rising just in front of the boat, it was going after a discarded cigarette butt! this is not that unusual as they look like trout pellets. Orange I thought, that's the colour they want, so tying on a little orange hopper I hooked this cracking 4lb rainbow on the second cast. Three more followed fairly quickly and it was grand to be afloat.

Tips For Beginners To Improve Your Casting And Catching

a rainbow trout in the net with a fly in its mouth

Anyone with some tuition, perseverance and dedication can become an average fly fisherman, but if you want to catch more than the fisherman next door you need an edge. So what separates the average angler from the guy or girl who seems to catch more fish? Preparation and an eye for detail That's what.

Look after those fly lines: So many people buy a fly line, attach it to the reel and fish for years with it, with ever decreasing casting distance. A fly line is like a finely tuned engine and needs looking after. It should be cleaned after every forth or fifth visit to the fishery in a mild soapy solution (strip all the line off onto your lawn, and using a clean cloth dipped in the solution run it over the entire lime) Then use a fly dressing to lubricate the line. This will get you a few extra yards on each cast and ultimately a few extra fish. I even clean every ring / eye of my rod and wipe them through with a silicone wipe (used for cleaning car dashboards) a few extra feet can make all the difference.

Check for wind knots regularly : Wind knots happen to every fly fisherman, when the leader loops over itself on the cast. They are hard to see, the best way to detect them is to run your fingers over the leader from braided loop to fly and you will feel them. SO WHAT? Well a wind knot can reduce the breaking stain of the leader by 50% making a 6lb breaking strain leader into a 3lb and loosing a fish.

The leader gets shorter: As a rule our fly leader is the length of the rod, say 10 feet. Every time we change a fly we loose about 6 inches of leader, change a fly a few times and we have reduced its length by a few feet. Always take time to tie on a new leader, 2 minutes doing this can be the difference between catching and not.

De-grease the leader: The leader will tend to float and make a wake and this can put Trout of taking, especially when the water is flat calm. It is therefore a great idea to de-grease the leader, but don't go buying expensive leader de-greaser the best thing to use is washing up liquid! and it works out a lot cheaper. Have some with you in a small bottle, put a little between your fingers and run the leader through from braided loop up to the fly.

A Great Recipe For Fly Caught Trout

trout with watercress sauce on a plate

Here is a great recipe for your Trout, Trout with watercress sauce.


A 2lb – 3lb Trout, preferably caught by you!

500ml of Creme Fraiche

A teaspoon of Capers.

Zest of 1 lemon plus juice

Big bunch of watercress

Salt and pepper.

Oven cook the trout (season with some salt on pepper inside the body and slash the skin 3 times on each side to prevent curling) at about 180c for 22 mins or until cooked. Alternatively fillet the fish and pan fry skin side down for about 7 – 9 mins.

In the meantime make your easy sauce.
In a bowl combine all the ingredients, use a blender to pulse into a smooth sauce, season to taste. Serve with new potatoes tossed in butter, Asparagus (grilled or boiled) or Samphire pan fried in a little butter for 2 mins)

Easy but really delicious.!

How To Clean (Gut) A Trout

a trout with lemon and parsley

If your planning to freeze your Trout its better to freeze it with the guts in. This stops it drying out in the freezer. However the fish must be fresh, so if its been sitting on the bank all day in 33 c heat before you freeze it, you may wish to re-consider. We keep out catch fresh by using a bass bag, this is a cloth bag that you can hang over the side of the boat or in the bank shallows.

Gutting a fish is a lot easier than you think and its not stinky or stomach churning.

Right to gut or clean your fish. You will need, a very sharp knife, some newspaper, a teaspoon and an empty sink.

Take your knife and make a cut the length of the trout's body (underneath) from just below the head to just before the tail.

Pull out the guts by hand, they should come out fairly easily and in one.

Running along the spine you will see a black colour, this is just coagulated blood, run a knife the length of it and then using the teaspoon, scrape it out.

Run the fish under a tap using your hand to clean the cavity.

Its up to you whether you lop the head and tail off

A Memorable Summer Thanks To Mick

elinor trout fishery

As mentioned in the about me page, I started fly fishing in the highlands of Scotland for wild brown trout, even though I was lucky enough to be able to go north 3 times a year I still missed fishing when I was back in Northamptonshire. I had no idea at that time that there were local stillwaters stocked with Rainbow trout very near to where I lived. I stumbled upon this revelation when I picked up a leaflet in my local tackle shop for Elinor trout fishery, which was only 10 miles away.

At this point I was still not a very good fly fisherman, I had nobody to teach me and struggled along. I asked my mum to drop me at Elinor for a days fishing and was so excited. I remember having the place to myself for most of the day. I could see trout rising and jumping but I could not hook one. My leader was getting shorter and shorter as I tried new flies (I had no idea that the leader should be changed regularly to make sure it was always about 10 feet long)

As mid to late afternoon came more fisherman arrived, they were all catching and I wasn't, it was very frustrating. Then the moment that changed my fishing forever happened, the Bailiff Mick, came down to see how I was getting on, he was surprised I had not caught any fish until he saw my leader and set up. Now Mick was a real character, he could easily be mistaken for a grumpy, angry bloke, but actually he was a nice guy and one of the best fisherman I have ever met. He snatched the rod from me, tied on a new leader, put on a muddler minnow and in three casts he hooked a trout!. Wow, my rod and line had actually hooked a decent fish albeit with me not at the end of it, but I saw it could be done. At least I went home with a fish and in those 5 minutes spent with Mick I had probably learnt more than I had in many years.

The following week I went back to Elinor, I fished all day without a take, then towards the end of the day, it happened, a fish took my fly. I will never forget that feeling. The fish was only on for about 1 minute and I lost it. It was a mix of excitement and disappointment. I had actually hooked a fish but lost it. I told my mum about it and no doubt she felt for me. Oh well I thought maybe I will get back to Elinor in 2 weeks or so as I went to bed.

The next morning my mum burst into my bedroom and said “if you get up now your dad says he will drop you at Elinor on his way to the office” I was up like a shot, she packed me a lunch and I was duly dropped at the fishery. I had a new confidence I knew I could do it as I started to fish. Within 20 minutes of fishing I hooked and landed my first decent fish, then another and then another. By lunchtime I had three fish on the bank and lost a beauty in the afternoon ( I did not know how to play a decent fish and it snapped me up) After that day I never looked back, and spent many happy years fishing what is still today my favourite stillwater. Thanks Mick!

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