One of the most fun and interesting developments in fly-fishing in recent years has been the rise of fishing with two-handed rods – widely known as Spey fishing.
Most fly-fishing, of course, is done with a rod designed to be casted with just one hand. And most of the time, that single-hand rod is used for “overhead” casting – flinging the line back behind the caster to flex the rod, then flinging it forward over the water to deliver the fly.
The trouble is, there isn’t always room for a back cast. And salmon and steelhead rivers tend to be big, requiring long casts to seek out the fish.
Spey casting makes it possible to throw a long line with very little room behind the caster, because there’s no back cast. Instead, the caster flips the line into position on the water in front of him, then swings the rod back and makes a simple forward cast. It’s not as easy as it sounds – there’s a learning curve – but once you get the hang, you can send 100 feet of line sailing smoothly out over the river.
Dry flies, wet flies, nymphs, streamers: almost all of them were devised to catch trout.
Thankfully, almost all of them catch bass, too.
Most fly-fishing is conducted in pursuit of trout in streams, where fly-fishing gear is perfect for tossing feather-light imitations of aquatic insects, crustaceans or baitfish onto or into the currents. In many places, this activity peaks in the spring and declines during the heat of summer. Trout are cold-water fish and just don’t bite very well when the water gets up around 70 degrees.
Once the water warms, many trout anglers switch to bass, which don’t mind 70-degree water a bit.
Despite their status as Plan B fish – something to fish for when the trout fishing’s no good – bass are great fish for fly-fishing.
It’s not unusual for a trout fisher to think he or she has hooked a large trout, only to find out the fish is a small bass.
They are accessible. Many streams that are trout fisheries in their cooler, upper reaches are great bass fisheries downstream. So the same river where you fished the Hendrickson hatch in May might provide exciting bass fishing in July. Smallmouth and largemouth bass are widely distributed across the U.S., and almost everyone has good bass water nearby. Bass generally don’t prefer truly cold water, but in places with water temperatures in the 60s, they often coexist with trout.
If you’ve ever asked fellow fishermen where a great local fishing spot is, you might not have gotten a clear answer from them. There’s good reason for this. Firstly, they don’t want to give away their best spot! Also they don’t want their favourite area to become overrun with other fishermen…
A good start to finding a great fishing spot is to use a topographical map of the area. You can even check on Google to find one. On this map, look for places where a topographic line crosses a river, a stream, or a brook. This will often indicate a potential sudden drop in elevation, signalling the beginning of a rapid and a likely pool at the end of the rapid (a “pool” is a depression caused by eyons of erosion). Find this particular spot on Google Earth and locate the co-ordinates (usually in the bottom corner). Pop these into a GPS system and there you go!
The next step is to pack up all your gear and go fishing! When you move to a new area it can be tricky finding somewhere good to fish, especially if the locals are a bit shady about where to go. This method above is a great way to find excellent fishing spots wherever you are in the world. It does take a bit of practice, but practice does make perfect as they say!
It’s every angler’s goal: catching a fish so big you need to use a net to make sure it doesn’t get away.
But landing nets aren’t just for lunkers. A good case can be made that every fish should be netted – to ensure a successful catch, and for the well-being of the fish itself.
A caught fish struggles most violently just as it is being brought to hand. This is, after all, the moment when the fish realizes a very large, wader-clad creature is about to pluck it out of the water. Fighting for its life, or so it believes, the wriggling, flipping fish may well get off the hook, and there goes your photos or fillets.
Losing a fish is bad enough; abusing one is even worse. A hooked fish in the final moments of capture tends to thrash violently against mid-stream or shoreline rocks or the boat deck. If you’re planning to release your fish – and most fly-fishers do, most of the time – an out-of-control fish often experiences serious and unnecessary injury.
A landing net solves both problems. Scoop up the fish as you’re pulling it in, and the worst it can do is twist and turn harmlessly inside the soft fabric of the net bag. Once its initial panic subsides after a few moments, you can reach in (wet your hand first to avoid damaging the trout’s protective slime), left out the fish, take its picture, unhook it and send it on its way.
The scientific name for Perch is Perca fluviatilis. Perch have an expected maximum weight of around 7lb (that’s 3.2kg). The average weight is normally around 6-8oz which is 170-228g. They can grow up to 20in (50cm) in length and live for around 13 years.
The British Record perch was caught in 1985 weighing in at 5lb 9oz (2.523kg), somewhere in Kent!
The perch is a stripy predatory fish which, when still young will attack anything small enough to fit in it’s mouth. As perch grow older they become a lot more wary, making a themselves much harder to catch. Its unique looks allow it to be easily recognisable. Its body is green with several black stripes, enabling it to have excellent camouflage in its watery lair of weeds and reeds. It’s not a fast swimmer like the pike, but it can go at reasonable speed for long periods.
Perch are hunters, preying on other species in the water. The babies feed on water fleas and other tiny crustaceans but they soon graduate to insect larvae such as bloodworms. If small enough fish are available, perch switch to a mainly fish diet when they weigh about 113g (4oz). Young perch hunt in schools, lying in wait among water plants until small fish such as bleak or roach stray too close. The school then sets off in pursuit, harrying the quarry until it is too tired to swim further. Perch catch their prey by biting the tail repeatedly from behind and below to restrict swimming. Characteristically the perch always captures and swallows its prey tail first. Yum!