Category: Flies and fly tying


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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The closest part of the Guadalhorce to where I live is just downstream of the confluence of the Río Grande. It is very roughly half way from the reservoir at El Chorro and the mouth of the river in Málaga where the river splits into two parallel channels embracing a lovely little wild space rich in birdlife before the waters are finally discharged into the Mediterranean. Getting to “my” stretch takes just a few minutes by car and earlier this year I carried out the journey on foot which takes about an hour. The heat at this time of the year is too punishing for this to be an option. Continue reading

Today, for the first time, I caught a gypsy barbel on a streamer. It was a very handsome fish and I don´t think it would have been any less than four pounds in weight. The streamer was being used because I had intended to fish for black bass but the bass were not very interested today and, while I managed to catch a few, they were small fish. Interestingly, the same streamer was taken by two carp, both unseen before they were hooked and both taken as I was fishing close to the steep shoreline. Continue reading

The gypsy barbel in my local river are predominantly bottom feeders and they are well adapted to finding invertebrates in the mud and in and around the stones. I suspect that when they are in muddy stretches that it is senses other than eyesight that direct them towards their dinners. Because of this I nearly always use smallish nymphs to target them, generally tied on a size 14 hook and usually with a small tungsten bead. Continue reading

Wine drinking and fly tying can be happily carried out at the same time although I suspect the enthusiasm of the former impacts significantly on the effectiveness of the latter. I have just been outside on the terrace enjoying both activities and carried on until the evening light made it difficult to see clearly. In that time I imbibed perhaps a third of a bottle of wine and tied up three modest flies. Continue reading