Category: Flies and fly tying


After a few hours on the river I tend to treat myself to a pint in the local watering hole in Villafranco del Guadalhorce. This has become my little “après pêche” ritual and, after fooling around for a couple of hours on the riverbank, a cold beer tastes about as good as a cold beer is every likely to taste.

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You may remember a fly that we have used here to extract the odd fish from our rivers when they are a bit off colour (the rivers, not the fish!). It is a mop fly and both the barbel and carp seem happy to take it as they grub around in their murky world. In a moment of silliness I named my version of this fly “Marge” on account of its resemblance to Homer Simpson´s wife.

What I am about to write is really further silliness and so, if you are a sensible person living a busy and purposeful life, you should really stop reading immediately and go and do something worthwhile.

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My river is in flood at the moment, receding but still pretty coloured, and the best way I could describe it is as a continuous shallow stream the colour of a cafe con leche. If you wanted to match it for speed, to keep up perhaps with a drifting leaf, you would need to walk downstream at a pretty brisk pace.

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“Crap” is, not only an anagram of of the word “carp” but it is a pretty apt descriptor of my own success, over the last season or two, in the pursuit of that particular fish. I have managed to connect myself to a couple of fine specimens but each returned my nymph to me after setting my pulse racing. They didn´t have to do that. I had done all of the hard work. They were just being mean.

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On Wednesday Steve Lawler and I chucked our stuff in the back of the car and headed off to Extremadura to see if we could catch a few fish on La Serena reservoir. We planned to go afloat with a local guide who Steve had fished with in the past and that turned out to be a good call. La Serena is a huge reservoir. By capacity it is the second largest in the Iberian peninsula after Alqueva Reservoir in Portugal, but if you measure by the length of the shoreline, it takes top spot. It is hard to imagine the scale of this thing. From the dam wall you can travel 70 kilometres to the other end.

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Steve Lawler and I took the float tubes to Concepción reservoir today to see if there were any black bass knocking about. This is a beautiful spot and there is nowhere I would rather kick around. The bass here can be moody though, and enjoying the scenery is what we spend most of our time doing. The reservoir is quite steep sided and, if the surrounding contours are used as a guide, we can see that deep water is within little distance of the shore for most of the margin. The one or two exceptions turned out to be where the bass were to be found. Steve had the first one while I was fishing the steep drops and in the end I paddled over to where he had taken his fish and was rewarded with one of my own.

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I have just gone and tied a ridiculous-looking fly and am feeling a curious mixture of pride and shame. I can well imagine a seasoned fly tiers looking at this thing and just raising their eyes to heaven, or shaking their heads slowly from side to side. Whatever reception it might receive it deserves a name and so I am going to propose one. How about “weird worm”?

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Try as I might I just don´t seem to be able to catch carp on my river any more. I have consulted the Guinness Book of Plausible Fishing Excuses for Failing to Catch to try and find some justification for my repeated failure but there really isn´t anything suitable among the 150 billion entries in that compendium.

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I had a lovely visit to the river on Sunday and a chance to try out one of the little nymphs I tied up the previous night during a “fly tying” zoom call. This zoom call was a lot of fun. The tying was done by myself and my brother Sean but we were joined by our old fishing buddy Mark McCann and various family members including my son Leo, Sean´s son Dan and his daughter Nancy. Our respective wives even dropped in at various stages. Our women folk were pretty much uniformly of the view that we are all a bit silly sitting around at vices, swilling red wine, and talking bullshit.

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My son Leo came over in the summer and gave me a present of a hat. As a matter of fact he gave me two hats. The first was a Whitton Lions woolly hat (Leo plays flanker for the Whitton Lions). This is a very fine hat and is nice and warm for the winter. My daughter Pippa was also treated to a Lions hat and the two of us are just waiting for things to cool down enough to warrant putting them on. I live in Andalucía while Pippa is at university in Glasgow so my guess is that she will be wearing hers first!

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