Our excellent fly fishing instructor/guide Stephen Wright reports:

Recently I guided a client on the River Test near Andover. The client Ray described himself as a sporadic still water fisher but never having cast a fly on a river.  We arrived at our beat with the river looking spectacular, everything one would expect of this most prized of Chalk Streams.  Against us I thought, was the weather – warm and hardly a cloud in the sky.  Whilst we headed to the top of the beat carefully following the river, we were able to spot several fish and a mental note was made of their position.

I realized the bright sunshine was not going to make fishing easy, particularly on dry fly, but I was determined to try and get the client his first ever trout on a “dry”.  The tackle was set with a 9ft Copolymer Leader and a 3ft Fluorocarbon Tippet of just .125 diameter, with a breaking strain of 2.3 Kg.

Second cast and a small trout came to hand, caught on a size 16 Parachute Adams.  No more fish were raised despite reducing the tippet size even further and trying a number of popular flies of varying sizes.  Nothing was rising and the only fly life evident, were Damsels, which seem to have had a very good year.

I decided to change to a size 16 variant of a Pheasant Tail Nymph and reverted to the original tippet size, as several large fish had been observed. First cast with the nymph saw a trout of about a pound in the net, followed by a trout of 2lb 12oz.  Ray was delighted to have now caught his first trout both on a dry and nymph.  A succession of small trout followed interrupted by some good Grayling to about a pound in weight.  At this stage Ray really could not believe his luck and in truth I was pleased and a little surprised to see so many fish caught in what was now a very hot and bright day.

Lunch beckoned and we carefully made our way towards the hut, intending to try for a larger fish spotted earlier.  It was still in position, some 6ft from the bank. I checked the tackle for wind knots, retied the fly and it was just one cast made before the fish was thrashing on the top of the water.  After what seemed an age I managed to get the scoop net around a Brown Trout which tipped the scales at 5lb 12 oz. We continued back to the hut for lunch, after having a memorable morning.

Whilst relaxing over lunch it was clear the hatch pool opposite held good fish. I made up another rod, capable of casting a heavier nymph, necessary to combat the faster deeper water.  Within 3 casts Ray was playing a Brown trout of over 3lbs, which was immediately returned.

Fishing slowed in the afternoon but still a selection of smaller Grayling and Brown Trout came to hand.  I left the beat at 18:00, satisfied I had given the client a day to remember.

An email followed next day:  “The best days fishing I have ever had.  I have never caught a grayling before and I lost count of how many we landed!  I have never caught so many trout in one day and again I lost count.  I have never caught so many specimen fish and to land a 5 3/4 lb brown trout was extra ordinary.”

So what can we learn from this:  We were very careful not to spook the fish, wading very slowly and moving carefully at all times. We observed the water and took time out from actual fishing to identify fish and rested them after several unsuccessful attempts. And whilst we had caught on the dry fly we realized our fish catching would be seriously restricted unless we changed to a nymph.  And importantly we had a fine tippet of good quality Fluorocarbon, continually degreased and with enough strength to give us a fighting chance against a decent fish.  Oh and perhaps we had a little luck as well!