Tuesday, December 29, 2015

PF 2016

The 2015 fishing season was a tricky one to me. The warmest and driest summer and autumn on record had unfortunate, if not entirely unexpected, impact on the Czech trout & grayling fishing. Add to that some family obligations and the result to me was the lowest catch since I started taking notes a long way back.

But not all is lost: hopefully a wet winter is in the making, which should lay strong foundations for a good next year's water levels (they could hardly get any worse) and my lovely daughter is fast approaching the age when she can be safely introduced to the joys of fishing.

So to all of my blog readers: have a nice, productive and happy season 2016!

Cheers! ;-)

Friday, October 9, 2015

And the season starts in the earnest...

The dry heat of summer is past, and not too missed. Czech rivers are slowly - very slowly - recovering from this year's drought. On many rivers the trout population will take years to recover. But despite all that - the grayling season is finally upon us.

To celebrate the start of my favorite fishing time of the year I travelled to Úpa, a reliable grayling performer. The river was still a bit warm, and low, for my liking. The grayling were present though, and even if they were not in the perfect condition yet they were active and approached my flies with interest.

The fish were moody & picky, as is about to be expected from grayling, and during the day switched their attention several times from nymphs to dries and back. As the river was very low the fish were - by necessity - in clear and shallow water. Heavily weighted nymphs were therefore not required, and I had good sport with my bloodworm fly.

In the times when the fish preffered a dry the best performer was a little CDC fly with red tinsel body. As an interesting side note it is a modern variation on the first recorded fly pattern; ever. That is some 2000 years of angling history...

Monday, September 14, 2015

A novel dimension of the Klinkhamer hook

A few years back I somehow acquired a package of #10 Partridge Klinkhamer hooks. These hooks are meant for the famous Klinkhåmer special fly by Hans van Klinken.

I fish the "klink" style flies gladly and often, but I yet have to travel to the famous Scandinavian waters for which the original Klinkhåmer was designed. The grayling in the Arctic regions are supposed to take a size #6 dry fly freely... Those on the rivers I normaly fish will frown on any dry flies bigger than #16 (perhaps taking an occasional #14 in the high summer, but firmly focusing on size #18 or so flies in the grayling season proper).

However, having decided that the hooks are too big for a decent dry fly and abandoning them for some time, I was struck with an idea: why not use them for a nymph? Grayling can be picky about big dries, but they do appreciate a juicy nymph or two. With this revelation I tried them on the most simple fly pattern I know: The Bloodworm.

A simple fly it may be - the dressing consists of only two materials (a thread and a floss) + some lacquer - but it is one of the most deadly subsurface grayling flies that I know.

The tie:
#10 Partridge 15BN Klinkhamer hook
red tying thread of unknown origin (looks about 10/0 but I have no idea of its brand)
red flexi floss
a single layer of Sall Hansen Hard as Nails

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hook Size Blues

A recent discussion on a respected fly dressing forum made me think hard about the unconscious choices I make when selecting hooks for my imitations.

I like my flies to be roughly equal to the size of the insect being imitated, or slightly above (I subscribe to the supernormal stimuli school of imitation). In river fishing it usually means tying mayfly imitations on sizes # 14 - #18, and caddisfly ones somewhat larger.

On the other hand I am really fond of Kamasan B160 hooks in size #10. They are sharp, reliable and can be had in a handy & economical package of 100 hooks. Size #10 should be a tad big for regular river fishing though.

The trick is that the B160's are 3x short hooks, which means that they are about the size of regular #14 hooks. About right for most river fishing.

The picture shows a #14 Hanák H130 BL hook (my favorite dry fly hook), a fly tied on a Kamasan B160 in size #10 and a regular size #10 dry fly hook - a Hanák H100 BL, as I could not find a properly sized H130 BL fast enough.

The moral of the story is that while manufacturer labels of hook sizes and shapes and whatever are important you should not trust them too much - your own judgement matters much more!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Autumn is coming...

As the fans of the fantasy writer George R. R. Martin are no doubt aware, Autumn is coming! Given the sorry state of Czech rivers this is welcome news, even if the current (still rather) hot weather makes it hard to believe. After the hottest and driest summer in recent memory we are looking forward to some cooling off.

The trout stocks took a hard beating, with the hot weather delivering a double whammy of low water and low oxygen. The grayling are said to have taken it better, but I have not fished for them since the early July and so I can not confirm it from the first hand.

As I waited for the weather to calm down I did some experimenting with presentation and imitation. The question on hand was the difference in how the fly dresser (i.e. me :) sees his emerger fly and how a fish looks at the same subject.

Not surprisingly, there are some differences. The hook is much more pronounced - I was sort of expecing it, and yet it took me by a surprise - and the wing is almost invisible. The submerged body looks about the same...

The tie:
#18 Hanák H130 BL hook
16/0 Veevus tying thread, colored Gray
body of natural peacock quill, dyed Olive
thorax of natural Muskrat fur - on second thought a water absorbent material, such as hare, might be more appropriate
wing of 3 feathers of CDC

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Midsummer Kamenice

I have acted as a host to my French friend Philippe & his charming wife on their visit to the Czech Republic. Besides guiding them to the usual tourist traps such as the Prague castle and the Jewish quarter we had some serious fun fishing. The deep canyon of Kamenice provided a welcome respite from the high summer heat.

Philippe - also called by those in the know the Heron of Palladuc - is one of the few fly fishermen who are able to turn their passion into a full time profession, and as result gets significantly more stream time than a humble accountant like me. I was glad to be able to learn a few of his tricks.

We set up for the day with me fishing the dry fly on a short classical rod and Phil fishing the nymph with a 10' 3 weight nymphing special. The character of the river - with alternating deep pools, more suited for nymph, and shallow riffles with an occasional rising fish - made the split easy and we were able to keep in touch, not getting under each other's feet.

Phil had the more success of the two of us, and while we did not see it necessary to keep an accurate tally of fish caught, must have ended the day somewhere around the 50 fish mark. He clearly demonstrated why the Yo-yo technique (an indicator dry fly approach, close to the New Zealand combo) is outlawed in competition fly fishing circles. It is so effective it borders on the criminal.

We caught a number of fish, both brown trout and grayling. And while only few of the fish passed the 30 centimeter mark - the character of the river being such that the theoretical maximum size of fish it can support is 40 centimeters, and those will be rare and few between - all the fish were native and in good condition. We did not encounter recently stocked fish, with not a single brook trout or a rainbow between the two of us.

On the dry fly front I had the most success with size #16 Redheaded Emerger, although I suspect that any caddis fly imitation in the general size and shape would perform as well. A large number of caddis were hatching during the day, and the fish did not seem to be too preocupied by the fly pattern - the stealthy approach (river was low and gin clear) and accurate presentation seemed to matter much more than the fly choice.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


A violet hotspot on a bead headed fly is one of the worse kept secrets of the Czech trout waters. It might have been a secret a five or so years back, but it is common knowledge by now.

Its novelty has sort of passed, and it has become just one of the many fly patterns. Still, a brightly violet collar has its place in a fly dresser's arsenal, and while it is not a silver bullet to cure all your fishing ills it has the potential to turn a poor day out into a satisfying one. And what fly fisherman could ask for more?

The tie:
#10 Kamasan B160 short shank hook, debarbed
3.5 mm tungsten bead, gold
tan elastic tying thread
pheasant tail tail & body
counterribed by thin gold wire
Hends microflash #18 collar

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Střela in May

After the false start on Úpa I decided to try my luck on Střela, a river which has brought me my fair share of fishing fun and despair. This river does not flow from a major mountain range, plus it has a dam at its headwaters, and so it has reliable flow even in the early season.

The access to the river is difficult, and arriving on a work day as I did I had the whole river for myself. I appreciate a good company, and a fishy story or two, but approaching a river in solitude has its merits.

The spring was in full bloom, the river was ringed with buterburr flowers and Bibio flies were buzzing happily around sloe bushes. The river was somewhat high, so at first I tried my luck nymphing. I had some success, but not a spectacular one, and so when I found a rising fish I switched over to dry fly.

The fish responded nicely to my readheaded CDC emerger and I proceeded to catch a number of trout and even some chub.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Red Fox & CDC

A simple variation on well known F Fly theme. I like the structure of fox hair body: spiky, grubby and unruly. Suggestive...

The tie:
#16 Hanák H130 BL hook
Grey 16/0 Veevus tying thread
red rooster hackle fibres for tail
body of red fox dubbing, wound tightly
throax of the same material, wound loosely
tips of 3 CDC feathers

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Starting the 2015 season

For my starting my 2015 season I decided to visit the river Úpa. This river has given me great fishing memories - both at the very end, and the very beginning of the season. This year I was not so lucky.

The river was high, and better suited for whitewater canoeing - in fact I did meet a few canoers, and they had more fun than I - than trout fishing. I struggled, with the fish present but put off by the high water and recent weather changes.

To crown my awkward start of the season I managed to lose my footing on a slippery rock and take a short swim. The fishing was over for the day.

As I had a change of clothes ready in the car I took a while to shoot some pictures of the river and nature in general, but I will have to wait a while longer to catch, and release, my first fish of the 2015 season...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Violently Violet

Tommorow is the trout season opening day. Like many Czech anglers I am trembling with anticipation and will be hardly able to sleep.

Will my new Violently Violet pheasant tail nymph make a difference? I can only hope so... Will it improve on the all important Angler's Confidence? No doubt!

The tie:
#10 Kamasan B160 short shank hook, debarbed
3.5 mm tungsten bead, copper
tan elastic tying thread
pheasant tail tail & body
counterribed by thin gold wire
Hends microflash  #18 collar

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Olive Goose

April 16th - the official start of the Czech trout season - is getting close. I am finishing my new season's fly box. I expect the first weeks of the season to play on the nymphing note, as usual. But the spell of cold weather seems to have been broken, and this evening I even saw the first bats flying in Prague parks.

It is possible that some dry fly action could be had on the opening day. Remote as the possibility is, it pays to be prepared. And so I have tied a couple of largish BWO imitations in expectation of a Baetis rhodani hatch. The spring generation is larger than the Autumn one (for which I select #18 hooks) and so I decided on a size #16 hook.

The tie:
#16 Dohiku 301 dry fly hook
Grey 16/0 Veevus tying thread
tail of cream rooster hackle
body of goose herl, dyed Veniard dark olive
tips of 3 CDC feathers for wing
shaggy hare fur for thorax & hint of legs
a few turns of purple 70 dernier Danville's thread to make a prominent head

Monday, February 9, 2015

CDC & Hare Emerger

I first saw this fly pattern on a UK forum - and I was hooked. It is not a complicated pattern, but it has a strange appeal. Like a sleepwalker I was drawn to it, losing any free will... Possessed by the urge to tie I had to finish half a dozen, before being able to rest.

The tie:
#16 Dohiku 301 dry fly hook
grey 16/0 Veevus thread
tips of 3 CDC feathers
#16 pearly UNI tinsel rib (not a part of the original dressing)
body dubbed with a mix of hare and squirrel, teased out with a velcro brush

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Chubby beetle

Grayling is my fish of choice, but it is a demanding mistress. There is only a limited number of rivers in the Czech Republic that support a healthy population. None of them is close to Prague.

The time I can allocate to fishing is limited, and sometimes the choice is between coarse fishing or no fishing at all. In such times I head out to catch chub.

This little beetle fly is one of my best performing chub patterns. It has brought me a lot of dry fly action on warm summer evenings.

The tie
#16 Hanák 130BL hook
Black UNI tying thread
Tag of 4 strands of orange Glo Brite
Body of Peacock herl
Wing of white goose CDC

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Red Tagged PTN

Pheasant tail is a key material for nymph dressing, used at least since the times of Frank Sawyer, the father of modern nymph fishing. It goes well with a ribbing of thin wire, and can endure a little experimenting with other materials.

In this case I have added a copper toned beadhead - gold seemed too aggressive - and a tag of reddish tinsel to keep general color combination in red tones. It seemed to fit with the color of the pheasant herl body.

The tie:
#14 Dohiku 302 wet fly hook
3mm tungsten bead, copper
tan elastic tying thread
tails of reddish rooster hackle fibres
Hends Patina tinsel PAT-08
pheasant tail body
thin gold wire ribbing
collar of homemade dubbing mix of hare & Fox squirrel

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Decisions, decisions...

An airy redhead, or a down to the earth brunette? One of the more difficult choices...

A fiery redhead is fun to fish when times are good, and this pattern has brought me a number of fine browns and a lot of fun. But there are times when surface action simply cannot be had, no matter what the imitation.

In such situations a simple, drab gold ribbed hare with a darkish persuation often saves the day.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

On the wings of an Owl

I am a great fan of the Owl feather flies. The feathers of an owl are designed in a way to muff the sound of the approaching predator. They achieve this by very fine, velvety structure. This structure lends itself very well to fly dressing applications.

The fine structure shows the most in the tiniest flies. Here are a couple #20 owl feather flies, tied using Hanák 130BL hooks. They are displayed on an actual Eagle Owl feather. The feather has laid a while on my fly dressing table and I am afraid it got a tad dusty; the structure is still clearly visible though.

This pattern is best saved for grayling - the Lady of the Stream, being a creature of gentle disposition, shows great appreciation of fine and delicate flies. At the same time it has no pointy teeth to ruin your precious imitation. Brown trout, ugly beasts they are, will ruin the herl body in no time. They are better served by more robust patterns.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Red Coachman

I have recently found that the Czech internet has a formal "award" for the most sexist advert. One of this year's runners up was an ad for a Prague radio station which roughly translates "a rusty roof means a wet basement". It is supposed to degrade women in a particularly gratuitous way.

I have little understanding of gender politics, but I strongly approve of a red head on a wet fly. It lightens up the imitation, and provides a strong focal point for the fish.

The Usual

When times get rough
and strikes just can't be found
rabbit foot will bring 'em up
just keep it dry...

Like a bridge over troubled water, the Usual will soothe the mind of a unlucky angler, and produce results when other attempts for a dry fly action fail. The original dressing calls for a hot orange thread, but I found I like the purple one more and the fish don't seem to care.

With respectful apologies to Messrs. Simon & Garfunkel

The tie:
#18 Dohiku 301 hook
Danville's 6/0 flymaster thread, purple
Snowshoe hare tail, wing & dubbing