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Robjent's Chalkstream Diaries - Summer Success

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Observing the water leads to more fly fishing success, especially in the summer time Observing the water leads to more fly fishing success, especially in the summer time

Again another month gone and still no form of settled weather to speak of. Just when you think you know what is happening with the conditions it goes and does something completely different! This changeable weather has made for a unique and challenging first half of the season, suffering low water and now bordering too much of the stuff.

July and August have always famously been tough months on the chalkstreams, as hot weather sees an end to the Olive hatches of the early part of the season. The middle part of the day becomes best spent having a long lunch and waiting for spectacular evening fishing. Part of the reason the middle parts of the day can be so barren over these months is that trout and grayling are without eyelids meaning they have no protection against the sun. This means they tend to sit at the bottom of the river or tucked up against the banks until the sun starts to sink in the sky.

Although the fishing is hard there are ways to improve your chances of summer success on the crystal clear waters of the south. These tips, as much as they look to improve fishing in summer, should also be used at other times of year. You will notice that the fish you usually gave up on is now an attainable challenge or instead of catching a couple you are now catching a few.

My first summer tip has to be observation. As we have moved through the ages we have somewhat come to ignore the ideology of people such as Skues, Halford and even Sawyer, to name a few. These greats spent hours watching their quarry, their surrounds, and their source of imitation. They then used these hours of knowledge gained to work out new ways to approach the water. This tip is not only the basis of all the other tips in this article but it should also be the basis of all fishing practices.

Small_dries_911917810.jpgThe second tip aids our observation; it is to use a good pair of polarising sunglasses. Quite often these midsummer days can be bright with lots of glare therefore a good pair of glasses can be the difference in whether you see the fish before it sees you.

Once you have observed where the fish is lying, how it is feeding, the obstacles around it, and what it is eating you are all set right? Unfortunately not quite, in these ultra bright and crystal clear conditions we are handicapped further by the fact the fish are wary of anything that moves. This leads us on to tip number three, Ledasink (A.K.A Mud, Fuller’s Earth, etc); it comes in a small circular pot and resembles potters’ clay. This is used to degrease the leader immediately before the fly; my own method is to hold the fly in one hand and stroke mud one arms length up the leader. By degreasing the leader, especially the floating sorts like copolymer; you make it sink just under the water. The reason you do this is because when the leader floats it puts a dent in the surface film which refracts the sunlight, thus acting like a little trout lighthouse warning them that there is danger close!

Number 4, don’t be afraid of using small flies, they do indeed catch big fish too! In the hotter months when the sedges aren’t showing it can usually appear that nothing is happening, but don’t be too quick to make this conclusion. During July and August we can be blessed by good hatches of Pale Wateries, Spurwings and Midges, I have had a lot of success on size 18s and even size 20s during this time of year in the past. They can be little devils to try and get the tippet through though!

We now move on to the last tip to complete your summer success, don’t go home early! The warm summer evenings should be enough persuasion to stay out on the river in themselves, but if that wasn’t then the fact that the best fishing of the day is to be had at this time should be. Sedges are somewhat like a teenager on a Sunday, they struggle to wake up before the afternoon and then when they are up and about they are all over the place. And it is these sedges that make up the main July and August hatches, their figure of eight weaves above the surface in the evening light is enough to drive the fish into crazed and hopeful leaps. The evening also means that it is less bright and our eyelid-less quarry can now move to surface with confidence and chase large sedges into the dark of night.

Enjoy the British summer and catch some fish!


Alex Jardine
Alex Jardine

Alex Jardine works for international fly fishing specialists Aardvark McLeod where you can contact him at alex@aardvarkmcleod.com

Robjent's is a well-known country pursuits store located in Stockbridge in the heart of the Test Valley and a mecca for local and visiting fly anglers.

They stock a diverse range of high quality fly fishing tackle, shooting equipment, clothing and accessories as well as the providing the latest information on fly fishing and the most popular fly patterns in the area and further a field. Such brands as Hardy, Greys, G Loomis, Abel, Nautilus, Lamson, Rio, Costa, and many more can be found in store.

Go in and see the shop or for further information call +44 (0)1264 810829.

Robjent's, Halfway House, High Street, Stockbridge, Hampshire, SO20 6EX

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