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The Peaks Fly Fishing Diaries – Winter Thoughts

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We are not out of the woods yet - the start of the season last year saw  snow on the banks and icy water. We are not out of the woods yet - the start of the season last year saw snow on the banks and icy water.

The rivers may be up and coloured but there’s always new tackle to ponder and the joy of fly tying in front of the wood burner...







The winter so far is very wet and mild, the rivers are high and brown. Whilst it’s not the best of conditions for those of us who enjoy a spot of grayling fishing, on the stillwaters stocked rainbow trout are still feeding. We are not out of the woods yet though, statistically we are more likely to have snow at Easter than Christmas and I remember the opening day of the season last year on the Birchinlee Fly Fishing Club waters with icy cold run off and snow on the banks.

The new year will bring a raft of new tackle from the manufacturers. Smaller diameter leaders, new materials for rods and lines that cast further. Like car manufactures, tackle makers need to bring out new models to survive and there have been some truly wonderful innovations over the years such as the carbon fibre rod and mono filament leader. That said, the beauty of fly fishing is its simplicity. A rod, reel, line and a pocket full of flies is all the basic kit you need. Read some of the magazines and they would have you believe you won’t catch a thing without the latest low diameter ultra strong leader or a rod for every occasion.

We all like buying new fishing kit, it brings out the child in us to get our hands on a shiny new trinket but it’s always worth reflecting on the tackle people used to use.

The rods were made of wood, the lines of silk and leader made of silkworm gut. Did they catch any less fish? Probably not. Were the fish stupid back then? No. At the end of the day, the fish will be the judge of the standard of your fishing and the fish does not know whether your rod cost £500 or £5 from the car boot!

For me, this time of year is for fly tying. Especially on a winter’s night in front of the wood burner. Fly tying is the next best thing to fishing and my imagination wanders, thinking of warm spring mornings and the first smell of the wild garlic as I wade into the river to cast.



Dave Johnson lives near Sheffield on the edge of the Peak District where he has been fly fishing since childhood. He is manager of Peaks Fly Fishing and helps run the Birchinlee Fly Fishing Club. Dave is also brand director for Harkers Fishing and a keen fly fishing writer, contributing to various print and online publications.

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