Westcountry Angling Passport
Brown Trout - Fishing Information

The Westcountry is a haven for fly fishing and whether targeting boulder strewn moorland streams or more languid lowland rivers anglers can while away many a day catching feisty wild brown trout.

Stealth and patience is vital for having a productive day on the river. Always take the time to look out for rising fish (and note how frequently they are rising), identify what terrestrial or aquatic insects they might be feeding on plus make a note of access points and casting areas. When you have identified a suitable lie, carefully wade upstream (these fish are easily spooked), and remember the key to success is good presentation of your fly. It is often necessary to cast tight to the river bank, under trees and around obstacles in order to cover the best water, although if you don’t catch in one spot, keeping moving upstream covering any potential fish holding lies.

In brief, ‘matching the hatch’ is the best bet but if the fish are not rising try using a weighted nymph either fished singly or ‘New Zealand’ style, where the nymph is suspended below a dry fly.

The dry fly will not only act as a take indicator but may also entice fish to the surface. If using this method, try varying the length of tippet to search out the depth of feeding fish. Standard fly fishing tackle would include rods from 7 to 8½ ft rated for 3 to 5 wt lines, a good selection of flies, polaroids, floatant and a variety of leaders.

April really sees the fishing start to pick up with hatches of march browns, olive uprights and large dark olives and by May/June the focus will have turned to mayfly. During and after June, blue winged olives can be abundant and in later summer sedges can provide excellent sport. Always be on the lookout for terrestrial insects falling onto the water - e.g. hawthorn flies, beetles, caterpillars and daddy long legs. Try not to fish bigger than a size 14 fly and a size 16 or 18 will catch you more fish, except when the mayfly or large sedges are out.

Small stream fly fishing by Pete Tyjas
(Devon School of Fly Fishing)
We are blessed in the Westcountry with a wealth of small streams to fly fish and on my days off these are the places I head for. I enjoy nothing more than the wild look of our streams as I find them challenging and enjoyable. I try to make the outing a one fly affair trying to make sure that nothing gets caught up in the canopies that cover our rivers. It is easier said than done but by keeping an eye on where my back cast is going, using a side cast instead of an overhead cast and keeping false casting to a minimum helps put the odds a little more in my favour.

A perfect setup would be a rod in the 7 ½ to 8 ½ foot range rated for a 3 to 5 weight line with the leader at 9 feet and one foot tippet of 2 ½ to 3 ½ lb. I try and keep my fly selections simple but functional with the mainstays of my fly box being the ever faithful Klinkhammer in black and grey, parachute versions of the Adams, Tups and Blue Winged Olive, standard Black Gnat, Elk Haired Caddis and a new favourite fly called Greased Lightening. This is a Klinkhammer style fly with a crystal flash body. You might notice that a majority of the flies are parachute versions and this is mainly because I prefer smaller sizes ranging from 16 down to 20. As a guide I notice a lot of people struggle seeing a small fly but a parachute with a bright post makes life a lot easier. A couple of Hares Ears and Pheasant Tail Nymphs fill the line up. I tend to fish these New Zealand style if I see no signs of rising fish but the moment I start to get takes to the dry then it’s off with the nymph.

Always keep watching the water for tell tale clues of rising fish and hatching flies and work likely looking holding areas and then move on. Early season fish tend to hold towards the back of runs and pools in slacker water moving up into the faster more oxygenated areas as the temperatures start to rise.

Remember to respect your quarry and always use wet hands when handling fish and barbless hooks but most of all enjoy!
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