Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The Shrimp with no name...

I've been playing with Bug-Bond again! I seem to be playing with the new material more as I get emails from Simon in Finland with photos of his creations... so to the vice... the big impetus is that I said I'd do a fly swap at the end of January and I chose a shrimp!!
I decided to have a play and see what I could come up with on the tube and here we have it... I've named it the "Strawdog Shrimp"... what do you think? Unless anyone else has the same tie out there.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas to one and all.

Wherever you are have a great Christmas... and every good wish for the New Year....

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Baltic Pike Flies tie with Bug-Bond

That Eureka moment hit again this week... after putting Bug-Bond through its paces, Simon Graham from Baltic Pike Tours emailed me some photos. I thought I would share the photos that Simon provided me with following his first steps with Bug-Bond... the surf candy derivatives really show the material off. I appreciate Simon's kind words about Bug-Bond and look forward to seeing more of his ties.... they'll all feature on the Bug-Bond site as they appear in my in box. Many thanks Simon for having the courage to use Bug-Bond.

Over the coming weeks I'll start imparting tips & tricks... for instance - how to get the perfect shell back... and this trick you can't do with epoxy!

I would also like to mention that Bug-Bond is not a rehash of any other light cured fluid sold with fishing or fly tying in mind... it is brand new product and a lot of time, resource and investment went into bringing Bug-Bond to the market

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Bug-Bond - the secret is out!

As I approach Christmas I start to reflect on the year that was. Economically for the world hopefully we are starting to get out of the R word that Sir Alan Sugar hates.

For me it has been a great year as far as fishing and the development of a new product for the fly fishing market is concerned. I got back into fly tying in 2008 and wanted to find an alternative to epoxy resin that could be sourced here in the UK and would be available for the European market…

Much research later I have a product that can challenge the way we have tied flies for years… it is really exciting. I am aware that change takes time but those that have tried the product have been impressed.

So what is the big deal… well the big deal is an optically perfect and tack free, light cured resin. There is minimal wastage… in fact almost zero when it’s used with the correct applicator. Where you would apply three or four coats of varnish this is one coat and it is done… Resin heads on pike flies can be done with relative ease as well… great time saving.

I have tied my flies with Bug-Bond exclusively since May and I involved Toby Merigan (who has launched as a tester and he’s been very pleased with the results… I was talking to him yesterday evening and he’d just finished fishing for grayling, having had a great day catching fish on bugs tied using Bug-Bond. Chris Reed who was one of the tyers at the BFFI 2009 last month took to it immediately and in a busy weekend schedule tied 59 flies for me for a photo shoot for the website. Simon Graham who runs Baltic Pike Tours and has the brilliant blog PikeFlyFishingArticles gave a fantastic review (click here to read it).

There will be exponents of epoxy resin who will throw their arms up in horror… however, for me it is about having options, alternatives and additions to what is available. Yes, some products may replace others over time but I’m not that na├»ve or arrogant to expect epoxy resin to have a long and happy retirement. The argument that light cure products are expensive as you need a curing light doesn’t hold water either as you need a drying wheel to get the best out of epoxy resin. Let’s live alongside each other and compliment each other as well.

From feedback I’ve received from tyers on the other side of the globe it would appear that Bug-Bond may have a significant edge over others in its peer group, the research has paid off.

I’m now looking forward to Christmas… to having a bit of a break over the festive season before hitting the trail in 2010. To bring Bug-Bond to the market has involved many long hours of research and testing. Hopefully those that use the product will find it as enjoyable to work with as I have. I’ll leave you with an unsolicited quote from Toby.

"Bug-Bond is the Holy Grail. It makes tying and finishing flies so much quicker than normal epoxy or varnish” Toby Merigan of

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Tactical Pike - Mike Ladle: Busted at Xmas!!!

Undercover photo of the cover!

Have you ever had a sneak preview of your Christmas presents? Mmmm... me too! Well this Christmas I've got on my list Mike Ladle's new book Tactical Pike Fishing. My wife ordered it and it arrived in the office today... guess what? I flicked through it and it looks a storming read... you wouldn't expect less from Mike.

I think I've been busted tho' as the envelope was opened along with the bubble wrap! Honest I haven't read a single word... that'll be when the parents and in-laws are chatting and the kids are fighting on Christmas Day. Me in the study and the book... BLISS!

I'll report back on Boxing Day!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Rainbows but no crock of gold...

I’ve been working hard as usual and with various commitments I’ve found little time to fish.

Yesterday there was a break in this awful weather we are having at the moment and a trip over to the in-laws gave me the ideal opportunity to mix a visit with a four hour session at a trout fishery… I’ve caught rainbows there before but nothing had given a particularly gutsy fight.

I’m always on the look out for that OTHER species and the odd perch wouldn’t go amiss either. With this in mind I’m always geared up expecting to catch pike and am therefore not surprised that the fights that ensue are rather short lived.

I decided to set up three rods, floating line, intermediate and a pike sink tip. The three rods all had differing styles of fly. The intermediate was set up with a fluorocarbon and titanium leader with a Fastach lure clip courtesy of my fellow piking pal, Dougie Loughridge. I.m not sure on the titanium but the Fastach clip is the business and I’ll be ordering these off Dave Lumb this week! Could save a lot of wire…

So with the floater set up with a small perch fly I bought from the BFFI do a few weeks ago I set forth covering the water… 3rd or forth retrieve back I allowed the fly to hang close to me momentarily and BANG… fish on… initially I thought it was a pike based of the ferocity of the take… but soon all was revealed… a nice enough rainbow.

I changed rods and played about with the black deceiver on the sink tip… nothing doing, so back to the floating line… within a couple of casts I had a beauty of a rainbow that didn’t want to come to the net at all… I did half think that old Esox might have been happy with a bit of livebait on the end of the line but nothing was doing.

The fish was netted and released after a brief pause to get its breath back.

I had a miss on another mark on the lake and a few follows… nothing major but a nice afternoon all the same.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Tube flies... what's with it?

I've been working hard on a project and still am... I'll let you in on the secret over the course of next week. In the meantime...

Following the British Fly Fair International 2009 a couple of weeks ago I decided to start tying some tubes!

So a pike fly and perhaps some salty patterns for next year... the pike pattern was a hit with a pike taking the fly at my feet... sadly not hooked... but they work!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Pike Fly Fishing Articles - Gets my vote!

When I started this blog I was very new to pike fly fishing and still consider myself the tyro pike fly angler. The success I’ve enjoyed over the last 18 months or so has been enhanced by the input of various folk that I’ve accessed via the internet… E-pals!

One of those e-pals is Simon Graham who runs the highly acclaimed PikeFlyFishingArticles blog… I don’t think there is a day go by that Simon doesn’t post something useful on his website and I’ve been impressed by his recent tube creations… rather than rewrite a profile on Simon I’ll quote from the Eumer website as Simon is one of their Pro-Staff…

“Simon Graham was born in England and grew up in South Africa. He has spent his life fly fishing the world’s best fisheries including, the waters of Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Venezuela, Costa Rica, the famous Wilderness of Vodlosersky national park in Russia, England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Over the years, his passion for fishing has developed into a specific love of fly fishing for pike.

In 2004, Simon moved to Finland because of the excellent fly fishing for Esox Lucius opportunities it offered. He now runs Baltic Pike Tours on Replot Island off the West coast of Finland. Simon also has his own successfully marketed brand of flies called “Baltic pike flies”. His informative pike fly fishing blog covers all aspects of the discipline, and it has emerged as a world leader in pike fishing information.”

Couldn’t say it better myself!

Simon's site is the "go to" pike fly resource on the internet!

Saturday, 31 October 2009

An 8 hour shift - will this ever be the new day job?

24 hours on from casting for 8 hours solid… my arm felt as if it was hanging off last night! But I felt really good… Smug? Very likely!

It has been half-term, the kids have been off and for a variety of reasons the week was a bit of a non-event… sadly boys like staring at screens like the one I’m looking at now, rather than taking fresh air into their lungs and doing something active… anyway the end of the week arrived and they were deposited at have gone to their dad’s for the weekend and we decided to go to my in-laws overnight so that my wife could spend some time with her folks. This is where I make all you folks out of their jealous… my wife asked if I wanted to fish for the day at a location near her parents. Happy as a pig in muck as the saying goes!

I was looking forward to trying out a variation on a theme I’d tied the day before. Many will know that I’m the fan of the bucktail deceiver and have tied many variations of it… I think I now have the mix right and am now playing with alternative colour ways and volumes of material… Black is the new orange. The perfect mix is… long cock saddle hackles, bucktail and flash material. I have had some of Toby Merigan’s Funky Flash for a while and incorporated it into the latest tying… all I can say is that it is fab stuff to tie with and highly mobile in the water.

So armed with two rods one with an intermediate line and the other with a floating line I set forth for the fishery… I was there early, early enough to start at 0730… sadly the bailiff wasn’t – hey ho I started at 0800hrs.

Primarily a trout fishery but with pike in as a bonus species to tidy up the sickly and not well handled trout, my personal view is that the trout are the “by” catch here!

I chose what the trouters feel is the best casting area and it didn’t disappoint with numerous trout of 1lb to 1.5lb following the pike flies in… so it was the right pattern for the day then!

I moved around the lake to see whether I could see any pike signs and with the prevailing wind to my back I decided to cast into the top corner… had a number of follows on the floating line but no takes. I decided to change tactics and go for the intermediate line spooled on the Abel reel on my favourite rod… “Caledfwlch” – the Harrison 9/10 weight medium/fast action rod. I cast to the corner then counted down allow the fly to hit the kill zone! I then retrieved with a reasonable speed and few pauses. My second cast and a long count followed by a swift retrieve gave me what I wanted… a hit. I new I was into a rainbow as I saw the red cheeks and pink flank glint in the watery autumnal sun. Frankly no match for the rod and the almost 3lb ‘bow was in photographed and put back.

Call this coincidence but just maybe the taking of a trout woke up the main characters in this blog… the pike. 3rd or 4th retrieve and the hit was a solid hard hit. Instantly recognisable as the strike of a pike and I was in! The pike gave a better than average account of itself and decided to go deep on a few occasions. I have so much confidence in the rod that I can bully a well hooked pike to coming in early to the net. At 6lbs I watched this pike recover in the salmon net and then gently slipped it back and with a whoosh of the tail it was gone…

All went quiet for a time and the wind picked up and it grew colder… getting bored with trying to get another trout in and having lost a bigger pike I decided to move on!

The opposite corner was challenging as it required casting into and across the wind… it was blowing a good 18mph at this stage… gusts probably more. I spotted some big trout in the shallows and decided that I cast a line to the far bank in the hope of a pike loitering with intent. My second cast was perfect – that doesn’t often happen! It was across the corner and I stripped back… half way back the fly was absolutely nailed by another rainbow. It was a lovely sight and the weight surprised me… a little over 4lb… I was chuffed.

I did give it all that I could and cast on until the light faded… we had a few more takes but they accounted for nothing.

A good day on a new fly that is equally at home with trout as well as pike!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Bait? Really!

Very unlike me having shunned bait for over twelve months now... BUT it is worth ringing the changes now and again!

I decided that pushing the trolley around the local supermarket that a tray of European Sprats had to be purchased... at 71p (probably about 50cents to those Stateside) they were worth a punt! I froze half the pack - individually wrapped in cling-film and placed the rest (about 9) in a plastic bag.

Having read much on Mike Ladle's site about circle hooks and that I had a pack of size 2 Owner Mutu lights I thought I'd give it a go! An 18 inch trace made of fairly stiff 15kg wire with a single circle hook attached and then shrink tubed with a swivel at the other end was attached to Powerpro braid on my Harrison 4Surespin rod...

I love travelling light - a few baits, rod, net and mat and away we go!

I'd had an attack on a fly on Friday in a bit of a slack water and failed on the hook set... this pikey area has had a bit of a mixed bag of attacks and few landings... so a change of tactics! This was a stolen hour or two at the end of the day which I find least successful in the numbers game but always sure to winkle one out. A chance meeting with a regular confirmed "NO fish out this afternoon!". Into the slack water... my that looks really shiny... as the bait wobbled toward me. Second cast and half way through the retrieve - bang - Fish on! I was caught half off guard as I'm not used to seeing a bait disappear as the fish fights on the line... only a jack BUT neatly lip hooked... easy to release and off to a few other marks.

Not a good time of day for this stretch of water - funny that! Never mind those in the freezer will do for an early stint later this week!

Friday, 16 October 2009

A great day to be out - and catching!

One day I will land my twenty... until then I'll be happy catching pike of all sizes!

Today was surprisingly slow with many commenting that a chill wind over the last few days had made the fishing harder. It was unseasonally pleasant - dare I say, warm away from the wind. I tackled up before dawn broke and had a session where nothing much moved until 1030 hrs. I lost one of my killer patterns to a snag... yah boo sucks and put on an Orvis pike fly... a non descript baitfish pattern which I felt was too long... after casting this fly and having a few takes/nips I decided that drastic action was required. Wielding a pair of braid scissors I reduced this fly by a 1/3 of its body size. The amputation/remodelling had the effect of turning this into a stubby baitfish... a skimmer rather than a herring!

Next mark along and 2 or 3 casts in I brought the fly to a pause opposite me... with a flash I saw the golden side of a pike turn on the fly and it was mine. A few aerial displays and a tug of war saw the well marked fish yield. Photographed and back in to grow and fight again!

The perch was a little later and caught by an old boy I see from time to time... lovely fish - second only to pike... only just though!

Friday, 9 October 2009

'bow tastic bonus!

The recent rains saw a favourite water of mine muddied up a touch and with a south east wind that cut through me I decided the pain wasn't going to be worth it... I still did my rounds but no takers.

I therefore decided to give it best and drive to another venue!
My investigations into this water told me that there were a head of pike at this venue and yes the wind was the same biting wind at the first but at least the water quality was better. My first few casts gave me a take and a miss on the floating line and nothing much else apart from a lost fly... as it happened it was my recent best catcher... doh, how I hate new venues! I decided to move to a mark that enabled me to cast out towards the corner of the water and into the margins as well. Having lost best fly I chose to fish a pink bucktail hollow tied fly... a few casts in I was getting a follow and then a hit... not from a pike but from this greedy 'bow! I didn't weigh him but guess he was the 3 -4lbs mark. I was taken aback by this capture... I will say that the fish gave up pretty quickly on the 9/10 weight rod!
A few casts later I decided to try a red and white marabou creation tied on a size 1 hook. This fly was rigged on my second rod loaded with the Guideline pike sink tip... three casts in a lovely take close in gave me this handsome specimen at 4 - 5lbs.
Now I guess I'll be hitting this venue again!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


A pal of mine suggested he'd like to try shrimp for the mullet he's spotted... so I decided to have a go... happy with the first one (main picture) not so happy with the second as I was disturbed when putting on the goo!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

At the end of the day...

Oh boy, a quick dive out in the car for the last gasp of the day... with the breeze dropping I brought the fly in across the shallows and I watched this pike follow and smash at my fly... he wouldn't give it back either! Nicely caught in the scissors - easy to unhook.

I looked at the sky, an almost full moon with the odd bat feeding on the bugs in the night air -what a magic evening!
As a post script, I'm amazed at where a pike puts an extra few pounds... look at the last fish... doesn't look that much bigger BUT the last September fish had a broader back and a fatter belly and was noticeably heavier than today's skinnier offering that made 5lbs...

Friday, 25 September 2009

Freshwater Tarpon? or Six of the best!

My God, I am knackered!

I haven't been fishing for a couple of weeks now... or is it three? Never mind, cabin fever set in and I needed to get out and FISH! 0510hrs the alarm goes off (quietly, so as not to disturb my wife's sleep). 0600 hrs drive to the water and tackle up. 0638 catch fish number 1... by 1232 hrs I had accounted for 6 pike... what a storming day!

Now I say 6 pike but I think it is technically 5 as the bottom two appear to be the same pike! This pike was caught within half an hour on the same fly!

The first small jack was quite memorable in so far as I'd had a follow from a big pike and when recasting the fly it was absolutely hammered and I thought "Bingo!" sadly not as a jack of about 12 inches gave up after a brief struggle. The second tiddler did the tarpon thing, generally throwing itself everywhere. However, pike number 6 at 8lbs on the nose was a real scrapper and also went vertical doing the tarpon dance!

The fly... similar pattern to the one I usually use on the venue BUT tied slightly differently and with a few additional ingredients!

A day to reflect on... I'll probably fall asleep on the sofa shortly... never mind I can always go after the bass tomorrow!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Harrison Advanced Rods go piking!

It's been almost a year since my old pal Mike Helliwell from Harrison Advanced Rods has fished with me... so we eventually rectified the situation a little over a week ago!

We met up after work and decided to work the magic with a few flies across the water. I felt that I had to show Mike some sport and I suppose was able to act as guide. I was at the venue before Mike and saved two marks for him to have a go at where I knew there would be a pike lurking. Sure enough once he'd got his eye in I got a stifled whistle cum call and I looked up to see a rod with a severe bend in it! Lovely.... I thought we were on for a photo but Mike horsed him a little too much and off he went back into the depths after slipping the hook. Moving around the corner Mike attacked the mark from a different angle and it paid off with a strike by another fish.

My aim for the evening was a bit of a social and to get my hands on Mike's new 8wt blank. The rod cast well even for a self taught caster like me... a brief go but another bit of experience to put into the mix!

So no photo of Mike with the pike... NO... but here is a clip from Sky News about the success of Harrison Advanced Rods. Steve Harrison strives constantly to deliver perfection... you only have to race with him on a yacht to witness it first hand. His desire to win is really infectious! Well done Steve & team.

Oh and Mike features in the video!

Monday, 7 September 2009

And the first of the Autumn/Fall!

The value of stolen moments to go fishing are worth their weight in gold… after a busy day at the office, home to cook dinner for the family and out in time to get the last real hour of light… 2nd mark and two casts in…. fast strip and halt the fly and strip/strike…. After a good scrap an a 8lb pike yielded to the net! It was looked after and went back well!

Monday, 31 August 2009

Last of the summer pike...

The end of the summer is here! The bank holiday weekend isn’t the remnants of high summer but the onset of autumn (fall… for those over the pond). We’ve had high winds up to 50mph and that put paid to me fishing a few bass marks I’ve come across, never mind, we’ll see what happens over the next few weeks.

I decided that I had to fish and decided to seek out a stillwater that holds a few pike but is very over grown in parts and casting is a test of keeping swearing under control at the best of times. The wind was really moving the lake surface and casting opportunities were few and far between… however, there is always a lee shore and a patch of quiet water… isn’t there? It was one of those rare opportunities that this particular mark was available… the wind was just right! Cast out and allow the 50mph wind take the fly around the corner some 5 foot short of the reeds. Wait a little and allow the fly to dead drift toward the reeds and dropping gently through the water column at the same time… now strip gently but firmly two strips… wait and so on. Cast again… same thing. Strip, strip and bang… Fish on!

Not big by any stretch of the imagination… a smaller pike valiantly sucked on a large fly at another mark… I love the impudence!
So there it is… the last of the summer pike… Roll on Autumn…

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

A "shoal" thing...

3 bearded Rockling

Anna age 5 with fish!

photo of me taken by Anna

Usually I’m writing a fishing trip up within 24 hours of getting home… Time just hasn’t been on my side!

Last weekend we met up with our friends Clare and Nick together with their daughter Anna on Anglesey. Packing the car for a weekend away is usually met with comments relating to the excessive amounts of fishing gear that I ram in every conceivable free space in the car. In reality the number of items is probably no more excessive than the pairs of shoes that I imagine Imelda Marcos takes on hols… fishing gear is just more visible!

Anyway, Janet and Clare had booked a spa treatment day at a local hotel leaving us boys to entertain Anna. How do you entertain a 5 year old girl? Easy… a 21 foot RIB, loads of fishing gear and picnic!

Saturday’s weather looked good with broken cloud and a reasonable amount of sun with little wind. The wind freshened as we got everything ready and as we launched I thought to myself that it could be a short trip out. Yes it was lumpy with wind over tide and getting traces on rods out at sea was a great test of stomach control. I’ve never been sea sick thankfully and I know how to calm the feeling if it arises (a result of many hours spent reading medical papers on the subject during my time spent yacht racing). We were soon fishing… I’d armed Nick and Anna with a 6ft lure rod with multiplier (anything goes when you are after mackerel!) and I had two rods set up one for the bass and a heavier spinning rod with multiplier reel for the mackerel.

Until recently I’d always had fixed spool reels but multipliers do have their place and having got over the hurdle of over runs I actually quite enjoy using them and they are a doddle to use when boat fishing.

There were quite a few folk out in all manner of craft; I was surprised to see a loan kayaker fishing on a quite anonymous dark green “sit on top” and a chap on a small inflatable. Why surprised? Well we were fishing a good way off the land and technically inshore BUT in that chop and fishing alone – questionable decisions and all that!

Observing the other craft there was one interesting common denominator – no one was catching any fish!

Nick really only used his fish finder as a depth sounder until recently. However, we used it and his GPS linked charting system to find interesting structure to fish over. I think more by good luck than good measure I hit into two good mackerel – sadly these were to be the only fish of the day.

We moved from mark to mark utilising some of the 150 horses driving the boat, all the time scanning for sea bird activity and shoals of fish on the sounder. Nothing!

We retired to a sheltered cove for lunch – I promptly got the bass rod out to see if I could conjure up a bass or two, even a pollack would have been welcome. We had a great lunch!

Lunch out of the way we headed back. Nick asked whether we should have one last go across the area we fished pre-lunch. So we did! Anna was armed with a rod and with little instruction proceeded to jig her trace and 2 oz lead continuously for the remainder of the trip without faltering once. I would have dearly loved for her to have landed a fish for all the effort she put in. Back at the beach Anna and I sat waiting for Nick to arrive with the trailer to recover the boat, when a small voice said “Can we do some more fishing?” What a star!

Back at the cottage I did the necessary with the fish as they were to be our starter later on…

With Clare and Janet back and the main course simmering we went to have a look at the falling tide in a nearby bay… a bit of advanced rock pooling! The catch of the day there was a 3 bearded Rockling – what a fantastic looking little fish!

Half a grilled mackerel each with a little salad including home grown “moon squirters” (tomatoes to grown ups!) followed by Scouse (Irish stew is a close description) and pickled red cabbage with a dessert of chilled mango with a passion fruit, cranberry and raspberry sauce… not to mention a glass of wine or two in good company! Who could ask for more?