Fly Fishing Masters UK – Italian Casting Style

A full day pass was acquired and I set off on the two hour drive up the M74 to the Annan to meet my old fishing buddy Emanuele for some education around Italian casting techniques. The one thing I had to remember was to leave both car seats for my wife  so that it would be easier to transport the boys for a double whammy sleepover at her sisters. Around 40 mins up the motorway and past the point of no return I realised while checking my blind spot that they were still fastened securely in the car. Day passes are hard to get and may be even harder to get after this blunder I mused to myself as I sent the apologetic text.

The day was warm and hot as a thoroughly nice bunch of guys met to learn the finer points of Italian casting. Look, I am not going to kid on and tell you that by the end of the day I was casting like an Italian however what I can say is that by the end of the day I was convinced that I could be catching more trout by using these techniques. It is something that I have kind of shied away from in the past; I have been of the attitude that if you can get a fly near a trout and it takes then your casting is fine. However what I am now thinking about is that there are going to be more opportunities for catching trout in tricky places from varying casts. I know a lot of guys will be saying to themselves “duh! it has only taken him 20 years to realise this” however to get a trout in a tricky position I use a technique that is widely known as “fannying about” which can be a mixture of trial and error and on some occasions physically moving myself. Consequently the specific casts used by the Italians of ensuring the fly lands first with the tippet crumpled which ensures a longer drag free drift and casts that get your fly under bushes are good as it cuts out a lot of “fannying about”.

I met some thoroughly nice guys as well as some long time readers of this blog.

Mike Barrio

The fly line designer Mike Barrio was in attendance and after listening to him talk about his business was most refreshing. He quietly spoke about how it was humbling that he was able to not really advertise about his lines as word of mouth was sufficient for him to stay in business.

Later I got to fish for an hour or so..

The Kelvin remains the best..

I have a couple of bugbears when meeting and talking to other anglers (not the two chaps I met this evening) but other guys who shall remain nameless. One of my bugbears is some guys ability to tell the size of a trout by the way it rises. Oh sure, I am quite aware that sometimes it is plainly obvious it is a micro trout however other times you see some tiny dimples and it could be a micro trout or it could be a two pounder. I have been chatting to some guys bait fishing and they point to some lovely looking rising trout and they tell me they are tiddlers.

This lovely trout was simply kissing the surface gently..

This lovely trout was simply kissing the surface gently..

Anyway, I got to the river straight from work at around 5pm. It was warm and slightly muggy, Atkins had told me the river was desperately low however I thought it looked to be at a great height. To be fair he was talking about Salmon heights of water so I let him off. I immediately had to put a chap bait fishing off the water for not having a permit, he said he was fishing for Perch and Roach however I had to advise him their was none in the river.

River Kelvin at a good height

River Kelvin at a good height

I wandered about looking for some rising trout after meeting another couple of fly anglers who did have permits. I then met another chap who used to do some work for the Clyde River Foundation 

To be honest I did not think the trout were up to much and I could barely be bothered hanging around however at a long pool under a bridge an absolutely stonking trout took my dry fly and led me a merry dance because my net was missing from my back (my tatty old net was left in the car).

A Stonker of a Kelvin Trout!

A Stonker of a Kelvin Trout!

I wandered further up the river to another long pool and spent around an hour trying to work out what the wee buggers were actually taking. I first of all tried a comparadun however that was ignored, I then tried a micro fly which was shunned, I then finally put on a klinkhammer which just seemed to sit in the film and I managed to hook two of maybe a half dozen rising trout.

A hard won trout.

A hard won trout.

I have no idea what they were taking as my klink was then shunned – I seen some large olives, wee midges, smaller olives and one of these bad boys…

It is red!

It is red!

I decided that seeing as how I had a good session I could pack up early and be home at a reasonable time.

Fantastic session!

Italian Style Casting

Long time sufferers readers will remember my first proper fishing buddy Emanuele  who I used to fish the Clyde with around 10 years ago. He buggered off to Hull and has been casting his micro drys on chalk streams to willing huge trout unlike our belligerent Scottish trout.

He has emailed me a few times about his Italian style of casting which can overcome situations like strong currents and drag, check out this video

Massimo Magliocco (the chap in the video) and Fly Fishing Masters UK are bringing a wee workshop to Scotland  on the Annan at Hoddom Castle on the 13th July. They are a  non-profit organisation. However a charge is necessary to cover their costs. For the day course the fee is £30 per participant (this includes fishing the river Annan in the evening – Hoddom Castle beat)

Information and booking:

The program is:

9.00 – 10.00Demonstration and discussion on techniqueThis will be undertaken on both grass and water by Massimo Magliocco and compared by Philip BaileyThe technique will be explained and a range of different casts will be demonstrated

10.00 – 12.00Tuition of u how to make the basic Angular cast used by FFMThe FFM Instructors will work with individual participants to explain the technique and how to make the cast. This is the basic technique used in all FFM casts. This will be undertaken on grass

12.00 – 1.00 Lunch, strippers and lap dancing

1.00 – 3.00Demonstration and discussion of all casts used by FFM in ‘fishing’ situations.This will be undertaken by Senior Casting Instructors.Each cast will be demonstrated in ‘live’ fishing situations and benefits explained to participants. This will be undertaken on running water.

3.00 – 5.00Tuition on different castsThe FFM Instructors will work with individual participants to explain each of the ‘Backhand’, ‘Totally Under Tip’, ‘Slowed Down Angular’ and ‘Overturned’ casts. This will also be undertaken on running water.

It all sounds good however I am attending for a chin wag with Emanuele and the possibility of a huge trout off the Annan.

Anyone else up for it I urge you to book and I will see you their hopefully!

Right Place, Wrong Time

The dry run ceased with an evening session on a highland river. It almost did not as when I arrived it was very low and barren looking. The day was hot and I had been day dreaming about finding a nice long deep pool where trout would be rising at dusk however after an initial tramp up and down for an hour or so it was looking unlikely that I would find one suitable. The long deeper sections were like glass and any trout I spotted rising were immediately put off by my presentation. The tippet just seemed to be far too glaring on the surface of the water.

Boulder Strewn

Boulder Strewn

However, I did catch trout – the main pools where there was rises was a waste of time due to the number of parr however at the heads of pools where the water was quicker and there was a little depth some trout were usually sitting and were obliging.

Some trout were obliging...

Some trout were obliging…

As it approached 10pm the wind dropped and the midges rose making standing watching the pools impossible as I could not concentrate. It is really difficult trying to explain to someone what midges are like to someone who has not experienced them full on, sure some folk have felt the occasional annoying tickle but when the wee bastards are truly out to get you there is nothing you can do if you do not have protection.



Water like glass...

Water like glass…

I ended up with bites all up my arms and some Cleg bites!

Dry Spell Continues!

So my dry spell continues despite a serious attack at the Pike yesterday.

A wee lochan which has been on my radar for quite some time was finally accessed using the tubes. The lochan could not look any more Pikey – it was entirely reed and lilly pad lined. In fact getting into the loch was problematic however not as bad as I first thought. We had to  seriously push our way through using the flippers but got their in the end..

The whole bank of the loch looked like this..

The whole bank of the loch looked like this..

The day was warmish with a couple of showers and just looked perfect for Pike. I used a selection of streamers and at one point even put on a popper to rip it over some of that nice calm water. the difference with this loch and a lot of places I fish for Pike is its depth – it is very deep going from about a foot to many meters very quickly. At one point I trawled a fly at a few meters deep right up the shoreline next to the weeds however got nothing.

We did catch a couple of Pike…

Alex into a pike

Alex into a pike

Alex’s pike was a few pounds and so was mine. Before starting we commented that we have still not had a big pike from the tube yet,we had some pretty high hopes from this place but alas it was not to be.

After a spot of dinner and some beer we headed to another loch and spooked some monsters.

spooking monsters

spooking monsters

I caught some micro pike and Alex had one try to smash his fly.

Trout evening sessions this week hopefully!



I appear to have missed out posting some outings over the last few weeks however to be honest there has not been much to write home about.

Usually time off work means extra fishing  however after my family holiday to Holland I just never got around to heading out after trout. Well, that is not strictly true as I scheduled in three evening sessions on a highland river however was then scuppered at the last minute due to the route being shut. I then went on the hunt for some Pike fishing down on Loch Lomond however was hit by a coughing virus. I even went out after some Sea Trout in the salt for a change after a potential fishing buddy sent me a text however my heart was not really in it. I did catch one very nice trout from the Kelvin during the day which I was pretty happy about. Here are some pictures for you..

The midgies were hell

The midgies were hell

A little dimple turned into a nice trout...

A little dimple turned into a nice trout…

One chap estimated this to be at a pound and a half  - I rolled my eyes!

One chap estimated this to be at a pound and a half – I rolled my eyes!

Like some anglers these bags are full of it...

Like some anglers these bags are full of it…

Potentially inedible mushrooms

Potentially inedible mushrooms

I feel like the summer is almost over when it has not even really started – plans for the next month are Trout evening sessions, Pike and possible Sea Fishing.

At least someone might get some fishing…

I was heading out for an evening session and then turned back due to the road being closed. I am at home now as quite frankly it was the last sign I needed that I should just stay home. I had asked everyone I knew today if they fancied joining me however between football and work they were all busy – I even put a post on the Urban Fly Fisher facebook page with no takers. (edit:one taker however I was already home)

Anyway, Atkins (Chair RKAA) has been asking me for months now to ask you guys if any of you fancy joining him for some Salmon fishing on the North Esk.

Not the North Esk

Not the North Esk

The dates that he has on Pert are August 4th – 9th inclusive. Pert is 5 miles form the sea and has 14 named pools, with excellent fly water. Accommodation is available for those that require it,at  £20 per person , per night. He has 2 rods available on every day from the 4th to 9th, with a cost of £ 65 per rod , per day.


You can see more about Pert on their site. 

You can contact Alan Atkins directly via email at or by telephone  0785 333 0471


Interesting fishing..

I headed to my highland stream after work only to be confronted by my arch enemy at the start of some nice pools. This was my first proper evening session of the year.



Look, I am perfectly aware that they are totally harmless, you just shoo them away etc etc blah blah blah however I just do not trust them as far as I can walk past them. They had calf’s with them as well which makes them a bit more edgy as well.

Anyway, I headed to another bit of river which i wanted to explore anyway and found a lovely pool.



As you can see there was a high bank on the opposite side with some deep water which was moving at almost walking pace, this was below a faster moving tongue of water- perfect!

Sure enough trout started to rise, little dimples on the surface. I was using a dry and dropper and a few times trout would boil at my fly. I would see a good sized head and shoulders yet these trout did not connect. My dry fly dipped a couple of times resulting in some solid pulls to the nymph yet my luck was not in with these fish. Eventually a fish stayed on..

Good acrobatics too!

Good acrobatics too!

It leapt around the pool and unfortunately I realized my net was left at home – I still managed it though!

A nice dark skinned trout, if I did not know better I would have taken that for a trout ready to spawn..

A nice dark skinned trout, if I did not know better I would have taken that for a trout ready to spawn..

I realised I had been fishing that pool for an hour or so and a cold wind was blowing, I decided to head up the road while it was still light.

Before the rain…

Fishing has been slow of late for a few reasons. One is that I have not had the chance to have my usual couple of hour sessions on the Kelvin due to living just too far out of reach to make it feasible. This will be less of an issue come July when the kids are out of their nursery and I get my car back for full days instead of half days, in the past I was able to just dive to the river after work whereas now I get to get the train in home. I seem to be in this weird transition of part of my life being still in Anniesland.

Come July I will have some interesting local places to check out – Sea Trout in the salt for one. Not that t wont have that urban vibe, my pal told me his dog came back with a drug habit after walking down the beach the other day due to the discarded needles.

Anyways, Friday I did actually manage a short session however the general vibe was one of something has already happened and something will happen later. Basically the trout had already fed for the day and were just waiting for the sun to dip before starting to feed again.

Looking upstream, a few risers but sporadic!

Looking upstream, a few risers but sporadic!

Sure I spotted a few trout rising however they were firmly in the one rise every 10 minute category. I walked up the river and it was nice to be spotting wildlife, I marveled at how green everything is. The spring this year has been especially kind to us and I have been enjoying watching my new garden spring into life as well. Speaking of life…


Its now downhill all the way…

I spotted a trout next to a bush and it rose twice, I cast and it took. I think it may have been my first proper kelvin trout of the season. I know that other guys including the legendary Jim Burns have been pulling them in however I was still pleased.

Still pleased!

Still pleased!

I packed up my gear and headed up the road. I have had two days of entertaining the kids as my wife was working and am now pretty keen to get some fishing done, any kind of fishing. I think this is why I looked out the spinning rod as a back up for some salt action this week hopefully.

How have you guys been getting on?

Tube the loch..

This loch was the reason we had pretty much bought tubes. We had fished it at the end of last season and had a really good session, we wished we could have got out into some of the fish further into the loch and some of the water was unfishable because of steep cliffs so we felt we were missing out.

We met up after work at the bottom of the track and got our stuff ready, inflated the tubes and made sure all the gear we would need was packed away tightly. I had found a couple of straps I could use as I do not think those charlatans at Snowbee gave me any as well as blanking me on facebook so had little other choice.

The stuff is at the car...

The stuff is at the car…

So we got the tubes on our backs and headed off into the hills. I had thought I had found a short cut which ended up being a bit more dodgy due to their being no path to the loch, it was also littered with deep holes. Once this was all passed we had a wee chilax session while we set up our rods n’ stuff. Alex decided on his 7 weight and I rather bravely decided to use my Sage SLT 5 weight – I believe a lot of people use 5 weights in tubes because they do not need to cast as far. I was brave because there was a howling gale coming right down the loch.


Chillaxing! A moment of calm!

Having the wind at my back meant that I could drift down the entire shoreline of the loch controlling my speed the whole way. If I had been in a boat I would have drifted far too quickly however using my Hollis F-2 Techincal Diving Fins – Size X-Large I was able to control my drift and cast at all times. The fins put in a good performance as when you stopped kicking you would not only double your speed but would start turning as well.

The waves...

The waves…

A couple of times a wave would splash up on my back however at no point did I feel in any danger and the waves were fairly rocking. It was a highly efficient way to fish and casting with my 5 weight was easy even with the strong wind. After a while  leg kicking became second nature just like when you are driving a car so you could concentrate on casting.

Can you see the Hollis F2 Fin?

Can you see the Hollis F2 Fin?

You can see that I am talking a lot about tubes, fins and tactics without talking about catching any fish right?

Well, that is because despite the highly efficient way of fishing and covering every inch of that godforsaken shoreline in a howling gale with a combination of flies I thought I was going to blank. However finally at the end of this mammoth drift I managed a wee trout. After some food within a few mins I was into another one which was a bit flukey as I was trying to get Alex’s fly out my tube while after I had just cast.

Saving the day!

Saving the day!

It transpired that Alex had the same experience as I did managing just a few trout. We decided that it was perhaps still too early for the loch and vowed to come back again. We packed up and then headed back down the track. It was a bloody awful walk however finally the cars were in front of us. My wife had been on the telephone complaining that I was late so just decided to stick the tube in the back of the car, this was when I realised a rod that Alex had let me borrow was missing. I had strapped it on to the side of the tube and at some point it must have slipped out on the walk back down. I made the decision to head back up to the loch, a potential hour walk with no guarantee of finding the rod. Just as I grabbed my phone a chap in a landrover stopped at the locked gate and I cadged a lift off him.

It was only when I was in the front seat did I realise that this was no ordinary forestry guy. He was a bit wild eyed with a couple of guns in the back and it turned out he was the estate manager checking on the deer which were going to be stalked in the morning. The whole journey I thanked him as quite frankly he was well within his rights to tell me to bugger off. Considering some of the hassle he has had off some folk I was not surprised. We chatted as I scanned the ground and he told me about his job and some of the chancers he met. I was firmly in the chancer category as I was not fishing with permission it turned out. I spotted the rod at the side of the road and we picked it up, he had saved well over an hour of walking. He said it was not a problem and was in fact quite pleasant as I was not one of “those cunts that try to stab him” [sic]

He took me for a tour while he did his rounds and he gave me a fascinating rundown of his job which is too lenghy to go into here but lets just say the outdoor life must be bleak at times. Also people that view themselves as enjoying the outdoors should pay a bit more attention especially to shutting gates. Wild campers need to be careful they do not look like a deer as they are in danger of being shot.

Got back home at half eleven to an angry wife and sister in law, dived into bed and was asleep quickly. Next day my back was killing me I think due to the amount of casting.

Looking forward to round 2!

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