Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Spider silk

Saturday, 13 April 2019 at 10:02

Ubi sunt? I've been tying plenty of Northern spiders of late. As fly-dressers will know, Pearsall's gossamer is no longer manufactured. For a few years I obtained replacements from Langley Threads. They are also now out of business (although some stock may be available from I've used Veevus and other threads, and very efficient they are, but I still repine over Pearsall's. It was a known quantity, took waxing well, came in a wonderful range of shades - and not least, darkened predictably when wet. It also had a historical link to some of the great angling authors of the past: H.H. Edmonds, of Edmonds and Lee fame, was connected to the textile trade in Bradford. Now, I'm not going to hang myself because I can't tie up the classic Northern spiders with the original materials but I do miss Pearsall's gossamer, even down to its little wooden bobbins.

First rainbows

Friday, 12 April 2019 at 16:20

Good fish It's been difficult to get away but today I stole three hours on the rainbow lake. It wasn't altogether easy but I left having released four brace or thereabouts. The fish moved well to a hatch of buzzers from 1100 to around 1400. It took an hour of experimenting before I hit on a convincing presentation. The right colour on the day was washed-out grey - the fish rejected black, olive and red - and the right size was a small 14. The trout were feeding in or just under the surface. This was the best of the rainbows, a chunky fish of around 2┬żlb.


Friday, 12 April 2019 at 16:13

Mixed lot Before the fish started to move to midges (1100) and again after the hatch and trout activity had petered out (c.1400) I used that murking great blue-flash Damsel. Yes, I know it's not olive, but the yellow is subtler than the image's colours suggest and the thing just looks...buggy. I fish it slowly, close to the bottom. Of the rest, the Shuttlecocks and the little Heron Herl Pupa (top row) worked well, though I had to experiment for an hour before I found the right colour and size of fly. They wouldn't have black, or red, or even olive; they wanted just grey, washed-out buzzers fished in or (better) just under the surface.

Good floatant

Friday, 12 April 2019 at 16:06

Dry Magic Tricky to find a good floatant for flies dressed with CDC - with duck's arse feathers. Standard liquid floatants drown the fibres and Gink (which is otherwise good) and even Dilly Wax (very good) clog the fibres. I found a tip on the excellent site of Stuart Minnikin ( some stuff called Tiemco Dry Magic. It's expensive and rather odd: it comes out of the tube like any gel floatant but it feels dry when you stroke it onto the fly. Yet it works well with CDC. I'd still urge you to tie plenty of copies of any CDC patterns if and when you use them, because they do become slimed and eventually waterlogged. Better to carry half a dozen of the same pattern than just one or two.

Deerhair Emerger

Sunday, 7 April 2019 at 10:53

Deerhair Emerger A lovely pattern Steve Rhodes showed me last week is the Deerhair Emerger, originally designed by Bob Wyatt (Trout Hunting, 2004). Steve kindly gave me a couple of his own flies: size 16 hook with a curved shank, darkish hare's ear body ribbed with yellow silk, a still darker thorax (hare's mask) and a wing of coastal/fine deerhair. And that's it. A variant can be made with a body of stripped quill. The artificial represents hatching duns - 'emergers' - and fishes with the body under the surface and the wing/thorax trapped in the film. As a representation of LDO duns or olive uprights this is a fine tying: simple, durable, practical. As Steve showed last week, in the appropriate circumstances it also works very well.

Retrospective fly-tying

Sunday, 31 March 2019 at 10:55

Waterhen Bloa Anyone sensible ties the relevant flies before they go fishing. I'm clearly not at all sensible and tie the flies I was missing after the day's work. On the Wharfe this week, for example, we found a trickle hatch of LDO at around 1p.m. GMT. Though the Partridge and Orange worked surprisingly well the situation called for a Waterhen Bloa. I had only two in the box and those were both ancient and over-dressed. So today I did what I should have done weeks ago and tied flies which would have been grand trout-getters last week but which I doubt I'll use again for another month or six. Or longer. Incidentally, in Mike Harding's excellent book about spiders, A Guide to North Country Flies and How to Tie them (2010), he has a wonderful phrase - I'm quoting from memory, so may not be 100% right - about the sparseness of the dubbing on the Waterhen; it should be as 'wispy as your grandmother's beard'.

First of the season

Saturday, 30 March 2019 at 17:59

Season's first I opened the trout season with a couple of blessed days as a guest on the Wharfe in the company of Lord Rhodes (to whom much thanks). The first day was tough - a cold northerly, a dour river, very few olives - but the second day was a classic. Around lunchtime the fish moved sporadically to a trickle hatch of LDO and we had a couple of hours of really splendid fishing, with fish responding both to spiders and to the dry-fly. It was odd that in the hatch of olives the Snipe and Yellow was ignored while the fish picked out the Patridge and Orange, which represents small stoneflies. Still, I'm not complaining.

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