Sorry for late report back. I got waylaid by working away this week - and am again next.
Originally Posted by Dunk
One thing that's easy to sort out - keeping warm. No need to be cold, even in sub zero temperatures, just get the layers on. Neoprene gloves are horrible to wear, but save the windchill effect on the hands, and some fleece under waders and thick socks and Simon will at least be comfy! As they say - your fly needs to be in the water to catch fish!
Really nice to see such camaraderie from you guys and helping each other out. Couldn't have a better guide than Danny I should think.
I think you underestimate my susceptibility. I had thermal socks and long johns on, plus my thick moleskins. My feet got so cold in 10 minutes they were completely numb to the point I couldn't feel what my feet were touching. The only sensation I had of weight on my feet was from my knees upwards. I literally froze solid, despite my norgies. I am going to leave wading to warmer water times only, so I have put the waders away and I will try and catch a trout from the lake where I only need my wellies because nobody is allowed in the water.
I was late getting there because the roads from Ashbourne over the tops hadn't been treated and there was a covering of frost right across the road, my tyres were leaving black lines through the white surface and in places it was sheet ice. I managed to stay upright though, by being a bit cautious how I rode.
Danny and Martin were already there, tackled up and fishing, although Martin waited for me to get my gear organised. Straightaway Martin told me that my rod was too short and would be difficult. There is a great deal of conflicting information out there - people go on about fly casting and lines and all the other stuff - and then here were Danny and Martin not even using a fly line at all, just normal fishing line with two heavy flies tied on about 2 feet apart.
To my mind that is NOT fly fishing, it is fishing with a fly...and to me there is a distinct difference. You could fish with a 'fly' on a spinning rod and fixed spool reel, but that would also NOT be fly fishing. Whether it is effective or not is a different matter though. I have been trying to fish with what you might describe as 'PROPER FLY FISHING' and that is one of the big problems I have had. I can see that now - using tackle that is all wrong and in the wrong way, for catching fish.
Danny had already caught some fish before I got sorted out. He was keen to get me ot catch a fish, but to be honest I was so confused by this stage about everything I had been shown or taught before, compared to what was ahppening, it was all a bit of overload. Plus the worry that I had the wrong kit, so I was already fearful of not catching again. I was perfectly happy to watch other people fishing and just to see how they did it. The crisp leaves that remained frozen all day will give you an idea of how cold it was, even not stood in the water.
I watched Danny and how he just flicked his flies, no more than about 15 feet away, with a 10 foot rod.
Then he said it was my turn. I showed him some flies I had bought in the hope I had done something towards it. They were from a known tyer and were popular with other people getting good success from them.
The problem was my rod is only 8ft and not good enough for what we had to do. Especially with the river rushing through. I did try because I was keen to catch on my own tackle - it is different to catching on someone else's gear. I don't know why, but it is. The fly line wouldn't go through the rings though, even though I had given it a good go with line slick the night before. I forget who, but someone told me to 'paint' my line in blocks with a permenant marker. The trouble being the ink caused the line to stick...and I didn't realsie they meant the last 10 feet only and I had done it all - so I have ruined my fly line too, unless someone knows how to get permenant marker off it again.
The weight of water coming down didn't worry Danny, he was out above his waist at times,
We were just using one pool that he liked the look of and he showed me the differences in the water that he looked for and how he would start and just gradually bimble his flies through every foot of it, almost like painting with the rod - think of the rod as a paint brush and you are painting over the water, so you cover it all with brush strokes. That's not what e said, but that is how I understood it.
Almost immediately he had a fish. Then another and another...in a frantic hour or so he caught fish after fish, until he caught something massive that his line couldn't cope with.
After the fish broke him we had to go in search of Martin to get more flies, the fish weren't really interested in any other fly than the red worm fly. Danny tried other flies but they didn't want to know. Walking up the river bank the other anglers were throwing handfuls of these into the water
The bait anglers had caught about 20 grayling, no more than 8 or 10 feet out from the edge. I learned a huge amount that morning, but it is very hard to have any much confidence when people all around are catching fish, seemingly to order. I had a go with Danny's rod and a fish did go for the fly and swirled at it as I was lifting the rod up, but it mssed the fly and I didn't cacth it. That was my closest encounter that day. Danny got 11 in the end and several trout. Martin made me feel better, because he didn't catch any either, but was using the same system as Danny, with just normal fishing line rather than fly line.
The cold was too much for me.. I do suffer very badly from the cold normally anyway. I am going to leave it and wait until the leaves come out and the weather is warmer and try again then. I will happily go and watch other people fishing and just watch to learn, maybe I will get better results next time then.
I have to thank both Danny and Martin for taking the time to show me where I have been going wrong and what I need to do in future. Later in the year, they say my gear is spot on for dry fly fishing, but not for grayling fishing with nymphs. In fact I would go so far as ot say I learned more in those couple of hours than I had been told (properly) in the previous 5 years. Maybe this year I will get to catch a fish other than by sheer luck.