Thursday, 27 December 2012
I was boat fishing beautiful Bewl Water (Kent, England) on the drift with Ross a 19 year old South African. It was his first ever boat fishing trip and only his second ever fly fishing session. I had taught him the basics of casting a few days earlier on a small lake. I set him up using one fly, a cat’s whisker, on a floating line with a 10 foot leader. He was casting 12 yards in front of the boat. I was using a team of three similar lure patterns and I was casting 3 times as far as Ross and using the same retrieve as him. Some 6 hours later he had 7 fishing in the boat and had hooked another three and lost them at the net whereas I had completely blanked. At the time I could not explain what I was doing wrong. Later in the season, I had several sessions where I covered lots of fish and only caught a few whereas other boats on the same drift using the same technique were catching fish consistently on every drift. What could I be doing wrong? A conversation with Rob Barnham, that ever helpful member of the fishery team on leader length and spacing, gave me the answer. I believe my flies were too close together and my leader overall was too short. The clear water meant that the fish could see all the flies behaving in unison and that either made them wary or confused them. This then reminded me of articles I had previously read in the Bewl Angle giving recommended leader lengths. It appears my memory was fading and sub consciously I was trying to economise on leader costs but at the expense of the catching!! So I am looking forward to the new season with longer leaders and more fish and I trust that others will benefit from my big mistake! Meanwhile I am going to spend the winter reviewing all my back copies of the Bewl Angle to see what other hot tips I have forgotten. If you are interested let me know and I will publish a chart of recommended leader lengths.