Nicolas Valentin has been getting up to no good with his kayak.
Nicolas Valentin has been getting up to no good with his kayak.
I thought I would make a few posts about Christmas books – in these deep dark winter (and lets not talk about the rain) nights thoughts turn from fishing (unless you are a bit crazy) to a spot of fly tying or even thoughts on tactics for the next season.
So here are three quality books that no fly fisher/tyer should be without – you can of course click through the book pictures to but straight from Amazon.
As fly tying books go “Production Fly Tying” is had to beat – it shows all the techniques you would need with easy to follow photos. This is not a step by step fly pattern book – this is a step by step technique book.
Got to admit – this is a classic sitting on the toilet book – you can dip in on any page and you will learn something – I like the fact that it is an easy book to recommend to anyone just taking up or is new to fly fishing.
Trout Hunting was written by a guy who lived a stones throw from the River Kelvin yet never actually fished it – in fact he wrote an article for a magazine about it and still never fished it – he then appeared in a television programme where they discussed the Kelvin – it was the first time he fished it. Do we hold that against the man with the biggest moustache in the fly fishing world? Well, no – not really – however he then buggered off to New Zealand to fish for monster trout and left us all behind with back issues of Fly Fishing and Fly Tying to read – luckily for us he left Trout Hunting which is a philosphical look at catching trout.
Anyway, that is three for you to be adding to your Christmas wish lists – by the way – an easy way to save books and to point your loved ones towards them is to create a wish list at Amazon – here is mine – they can then buy the books and opt to have them sent straight to your house – of course some people might say this is just a huge hint to get Christmas presents off you guys – however I just have your best interests at hearts – honest guvnor!
Last Sunday morning my wife decided she just had to go to local huge shopping centre to pick up a frock or something for a christening in the afternoon – I decided to take the boy for a walk and then had a moment of pure genius – we can go and feed the swans down at the park – it just so happens the North Glasgow Casting Club meets up on Sunday mornings for a bit of rod waving shenanigans.
Just what do you call a group of chaps practising fly casting anyway?
The casting club is a cracking idea – to learn to cast you have really got to see someone cast very well – you can then copy them and ask questions galore. There is also the opportunity to try everyone’s rods (ooer) before you go out and splash out cash on a new one – very worthwhile actually – I am reminded of when someone told me Fulling Mill rods were good – I got one without casting it and hated it – in fact every one of my pals who tried it did not like it either - I eventually sold it to someone from a forum – I heard later it snapped while being cast!
There are also qualified casting instructors on hand however they will not give you full one on one lessons – they will give you pointers – invaluable pointers even and that is pretty neat. If you do then decide to take a couple of hours casting lessons you will know the guy giving it and he will have a feel for what you need to concentrate on.
The casting club is pretty unique as anyone can turn up and is very informal – I have been only the once however constantly hear about its progress on all the various forums and from pals. On nice calm days it is busier however you might find that if you attend on a windy day it will be less busy and you will get more out of it – generally peoples casting goes to pot with a bit of wind.
Anyway, so there I was watching Alberto and another guy casting away with a new Orvis Helios rod – “Have a bash at that” was the offer – I cast – what followed was a disection of my cast, where I had went wrong and what I could do to rectify it – I have heard these guys are very patient – turns out if you are pals wth them they are ruthlessly honest and blunt. “Less Power, less power – put your hand in your pocket” and “Look at that tailing loop – you wanna know what caused that?”
My pal Campbell then turned up with his son and I took great delight in ripping his casting to shreds as well ” Oh my GOD – he has the creep”
So what did I learn? Well for a start I need to correct my own creep that is causing my tailing loops - the way to correct that is to use “The Drift” – this is when on the back cast instead of creeping forward (which is bad) you let the rod drift back ever so slightly. Obviously I need to practice this a bit!
After a while my wife turned up and caused much hilarity by getting a wee bit of fur caught up in the boys buggy and then walking over to the car – just so happened the wee bit of fur was attached to a line, rod and reel.
I think this is a great way for someone to learn how to cast a fly – sure there are some great books and DVDs such as…
However after you have read the books and DVDs heading off to see guys in action where you can ask questions is invaluable.
What can I say – learning to fly fish has never been so accessible to so many – the group meets on Sunday mornings between 1000 and 1200 at Knightswood pond – after 1200 the local model boat group have the pond booked – Seemingly they are a bit unsporting and do not like people casting towards the boats!
Nicolas Valentin is an employee of the Glasgow Angling Centre – I have got to admit he is one of the guys that actually changed my mind about the place – I used to stare at the rows of rods through surly eyes and complain at the lack of soul the whole store had!
For those that do not know the GAC is the largest fishing store in Scotland – they started out innocently enough as a wee stall in the infamous Glasgow Barras (a market where you could have your mobile phone stolen off you in around 5 minutes and then have it offered back to you for sale in 10) and then moved into a bigger shop and then into an even bigger store in a retail park. The store is huge with all kinds of tackle for sale with a wide assortment of fly tying materials for just about any crazy concoction you can come up with. I used to complain that the place had no character however over the last few years I have really started to warm to the shed store. Their open days are legendary – fishing celebrity John Wilson blanked yours truly and my wife insists that I only take cash and no cards.
I always get embarrassed when anyone recognises me and says they like the blog – makes me feel a bit….well stalked if the truth be known – it was not like that in the old days when I failed to put any picture of me on here – now my fishing buddies have cameras which is a good thing really as it drags up the quality of pictures – Nicolas said to me the first time we chatted that my photos were a bit….well….shit.. and I should get a better camera – which I did – my photos remain shit only now I have a more expensive camera – what I really should get is a non water proof camera.
Anyway, Nicolas then told me some cracking spots for Pike so that more than made up for any wounded pride.
I visited the GAC on Wednesday when I was off with the boy – not only did I meet one of my readers Jason I also had a rather interesting chat with Nicolas – he has not only gone and bought himself a kayak but has been cruising up and down the Forth n’ Clyde canal.
He let me use the above picture from his Flickr page for the blog – I have a sneaking suspicion he felt sorry for me!
It makes me want to get some kind of boat again – in February of this year I was obsessed with the thought of getting myself some kind of float tube or looking at some of the stuff I had that could be used as one. It turned out that I did not have the time to devote myself to a full on campaign of trying to get a tube – maybe if I had fished more however I just never got around to more than a few hours here and there.
However, Nicolas with his talk of using his kayak on Loch Lomond and on the canal has brought all this back – the thought of bobbing around on the canal searching for toothy beasts (and possibly attacking shoals of roach on the dry fly) fills me with a fair bit of excitement – I mean, who the hell has ever tubed on the canal? I could be a trail blazer – I keep on thinking of the stretches a fair bit outside the city near where the Kelvin starts seeping out its bog – the canal is pretty wide up there and obviously stuffed full of absolutely enormous Pike – I suppose access may be a problem however as long as you found somewhere you could get in and out between the reeds it should not be a problem. I know there is some pretty thick weeds – I do not fancy those horrors getting tangled up in my legs too much though – Nicolas pointed out it can be quite cold in a float tube – So I suppose I would be looking for one of those pontoon types to make me glide with just my calf’s and feet in the water.
For me at the moment I reckon a Kayak is out of the question due to there being far too much of the folding stuff involved – so I reckon it will be a pontoon/float tube which works out at around half the cost may be on the cards.
Any of you guys know anyone that tubes in the canal or bizarre places?
What a strange season all round – I am not saying it was a bad season – just a very strange one. Dave from Cork noted in the comments that having a child (or several) definitely cut down his fishing time however it made the times he went fishing a heck of a lot more special – I wholeheartedly agree with that!. Usually, I am targeting trout at least a few times per week on the Kelvin and then hitting the Clyde at the weekends for a day session. All you have to do is compare my post count over the last few years in June and July in my archives to see the difference in session amounts.
However, this year I seemed to just catch a few hours on the Kelvin whenever I could and hit just one spot on the Clyde when times allowed. My catch rate is definitely down probably due to the fact that when you have one poor session with less than favourable conditions the next one a day later usually makes up for it. If memory serves me right I seemed to manage a lot of early season trips when the conditions were poor and then this tapered off as the conditions got better – due to increased baby duties.
So what have I learned for next year? How to be a good father and yet still get some quality fishing time in – I think the key might be to target small streams – the trout are lot more obliging for a start and “usually” the action starts on day one rather than after a couple of months of the water heating up. I know one guy (no names) who fishes a small stream (no names) who always catches trout on dries on the first day of the season. A few hours scrabbling around on rocks with tricky casting is just what the doctor ordered.
Of course – that is for day time shenanigans – evenings can be spent on the Kelvin or one of the tributaries – not that I had a great year on the Kelvin, sure I caught a few trout however certainly none that particularly stood out in my mind.
Trout that did stand out? There was my first trout of the year that I caught on the dry fly – in fact it was caught on my second cast of the season (or was it my third?) I was on my lunch break in the middle of nowhere after attending a meeting – I was standing on a bridge watching wee trout rising consistently – “why not” I said to myself – pulled my waders on, strung up my Orvis Superfine – had a cast – fly missed the trout – recast and the trout took my fly – trout then leaped all over the pool – it was sweet.
Another memorable trout was from the same river – fishing buddy assisted with hero shot with that one. In fact – the guy I have been fishing with most (who also has a baby of the same age – we are kindred spirits) actually carries a camera for a change – so even if the writing is pish at least you get to look at nice photos.
Pike trips have been few – I had a couple of trips over the Summer – one of the days I caught a couple which was great fun.
My last trout trip of the year was very similar to last years – it was great! It felt close enough to the end of the season that I decided to end the year on a high as opposed to a blank.
Over the coming months I am going to get my shit together and start tying flies – I am now armed and dangerous with Singlebarbed’s fancy new sixth finger.
And from the word go (ie the start of the tying season) I have my J Vice to start on the troops for the new season. All in all a lot to look forward to.
I went for a walk along the Kelvin today and was pretty shocked by two things.
Firstly, it is bloody Autumn – sure I knew it was on the way however I appear to have missed the actual start of it – one moment I was looking out a pair of shorts for what we laughingly call Summer and suddenly I am looking out my long johns for the Pike.
Got to admit though – the lack of leaves mean you can see every wee nook and cranny – lovely little pools and riffles I doubt get fished.
In that white water there will be nice trout – I have actually fished in that spot – I ended up getting stuck at the bottom of a ditch – such is the life of an urban fly fisher.
I wandered on to Dawsholm Park -past the petrol pool, the smell was particularly strong today – I think I am going to report it again – I spoke to a chap from Sepa about it when I met him a while ago – he said he would investigate however I never found out the outcome.
The second thing that shocked me was in that over the space of a couple of miles I only came across one angler – I spotted him from behind a tree…
I gave him a nod and a wave however he looked at me with a “piss off” glance – a look I am particularly good at in the busier sections of the river.
There was even noone at the infamous spots along the Maryhill stretch. One of the last Saturdays of the season and there is very few guys on the river – saying that though there was probably over a thousand guys set lining in the Science park.
The trout season is over –that was a bit quick – I feel I have only been out a half dozen times (obviously a bit more) and I certainly have not fished a lot of my usual haunts on the Clyde. It was fun sticking closer to home – The Kelvin and the other wee rivers that I found. One of the reasons I decided to give up being an office bearer for the Kelvin (note: one of the reasons) is that I found myself attending meetings on evenings where I could actually be fishing – with the young one my fishing time is now precious.
I have been reading a few books over the last month or so and these have been whetting my appetite for next year when with a bit of luck things may be slightly less chaotic – I still have to attack the Pike this year – possibly this weekend I will be armed and dangerous going after the beasts.
How do you guys with kids manage your fishing/wanting to be with your child/family commitments ? I know one fishing buddy who takes his 8 month old in a special rucksack - I fall over waaaaay too much for those kind of shenanigans.
Another weekend of fun is to be had at the Glasgow Angling Centre open day
Paul Young – the only mortal to make a fishing programme that everyone actually likes will be cruising around giving autographs and buying pints (maybe not the buying pints bit however he will not blank you unlike John Wilson)
Not on the list of stars is Steve Cooper who provides some of the best fly tying materials known to man. His demonstrations I have heard are great (I am hoping he will come to the Milngavie Fly Tyers for a demo at some point).
Glasgow Angling Centre – Happy Birthday!
Seeing as how stuff got all a bit serious there I thought we could run a humorous competition – a caption competition no less. Extra marks go to people that actually photoshop the picture – winner gets 10 of my enormous flies. Open to everyone feel free to leave any comments in the usual place or if you are a member of the forum chip in on the post – you can email the picture to firstname.lastname@example.org
Usual urban rules apply – it will take absolutely ages to get the prize.
Let’s run it for a month.