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Doing Mr. Halford Proud

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All credit to Grant Harrower for choosing the Daddy and sticking with it... All credit to Grant Harrower for choosing the Daddy and sticking with it...

A day of torrential rain doesn’t dampen the spirits of those fishing the 2014 River Test One Fly, as Simon Cooper recounts.




2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of FM Halford, generally regarded as the father of modern day dry fly fishing. As a nod to his greatness I decided that anyone fishing the 2014 River Test One Fly was to get double points. Somewhere up there in the heavens (surely all dry fly fishermen go to heaven; best not to think about where the nymphers go...) he must have heard me and sent good vibes down to the intrepid fellows who tied on Alistair Robjent's Daddy Long Legs special.

There are a handful of days in the chalkstream season when it rains from dawn to dusk and the Friday of the event just happened to be one of those. After five straight years of great River Test One Fly weather the gods scowled on us effectively blowing out many of the beats lower down the river and making it tough for just about everywhere.

But to confound everyone, in the worst conditions ever, a dry fly won the competition, ending five straight years of a nymph. All credit to Grant Harrower for choosing the Daddy and sticking with it.

He caught 18 fish and led his team the ‘Minley Manor Moustaches’ to collect the winning team trophy preventing the Dream Team making it three years on the trot. Interestingly as the day wore on and the conditions worsened the return for the dry improved; three of the four top afternoon flies were all dry; a Dark Olive and a Daddy Longs Legs twice.

The Estate prize went to The Boathouse beat, which is just downstream of Wherwell on the River Test. But it was a close run thing just shading Compton Chamberlayne on the Nadder by two points, which made it a second year of being second. A special mention to newcomer Avon Springs on the Avon who were third where two sea trout were caught.

First time One Fly entrant Michael Jacobsen, who had travelled from Scandinavia to compete, shared the Big Fish award with Grant Harrower who both caught a 23" trout raising £500 for our chosen cause this year Fishing for Forces.

This year 154 fish trout were caught, which is an impressive total being as it was not far off last year when we fished in almost ideal conditions for 174 fish. Included in the tally were those two sea trout and all the fish were released unharmed.

We owe a huge thank you to our river owners for kindly giving their fishing up for the day, The Peat Spade for being such wonderful hosts and to everyone for fishing the day in the spirit of what makes our chalkstreams so very special.

Below is Matt Dickinson's cool video of the day; you will see lots of rain! 



Flyfishing.co.uk is delighted to bring you Simon’s feature, which was first published in his ‘Fishing Breaks’ Newsletter.

Simon’s company, Fishing Breaks, based in the heart of the River Test Valley, offers some of the finest chalk stream fly fishing available in the UK – and a whole lot more. Check out their website HERE



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