On the fly

About a year ago I attended a course to top up my angling coaching qualifications, and met a gentleman called Peter Lax. I think it would be fair to say that from an angling perspective we were poles apart, but we both shared a passion for coaching youngsters, and kept in contact after the course had finished. In conversation I said that I’d never really understood the attraction of fly fishing and that I’d love to catch a grayling on the fly. Peter is the sort of guy who likes a challenge, so a date was set.
I talked to Daiwa head office, as I didn’t have a clue what rod/reel I would need and they sorted out some fly gear, a good general purpose set-up consisting of a Signature 9ft 6ins AFTM6 rod and a Lochmor S LA6 reel loaded with 6 weight forward line. Peter said he would sort me out with the rest so it was time to go fishing.
Peter had organised a guest tickets fishing the River Derwent on the Chatsworth estate. As I stood looking at it for the first time I was totally impressed with how beautiful it all was, but I was a bit concerned when Peter told me we wouldn’t be fishing from the bank, but wading the river. We had a few practice casts on the bank. The rod and reel felt lovely, but in truth it took me some time and a lot of Peter’s patience before he felt I was ready to get in the water. Now those who have never waded, it’s an experience in itself, and I relied heavily on the wading stick to slowly make my way through the bubbling water. Once I’d gained a bit of confidence I really started to enjoy myself, it would have been hard not to, with the stunning scenery, the lovely river, and the backdrop of Chatsworth House in the distance.
The fishing was also spectacular, under Peters instruction, I gradually started to get the hang of presenting the fly, and more importantly controlling it as it came towards me. This was so different from my normal routine of casting out, setting the bite alarms and putting the kettle on. My first fish grabbed the fly and the rod bucked over.
Playing fish on a light fly rod was a new and exciting experience for me, but one I was happy to repeat several times. We fished some of the time with nymphs and some of the time with emergers. I already have a favourite fly, the Klinkhammer! I just loved the closeness and finesse of the fishing we were doing, I was rapidly becoming a fan of fishing for grayling on the fly. As the day came to an end, I couldn’t thank Peter enough, a chance meeting on a coaching course had just given me some of my best angling memories, and I knew someone else who would love a day like I’d just had!
We quickly checked diaries, and found a day that we could all make before the trout season closed. Martyn also had a brilliant day and caught several lovely grayling and some hard fighting trout.
Like me, Martyn was more at home with watching for takes on the surface, rather than watching the line, but we both loved the style of fishing, the wading the stream, the quickness of the take, and the lunge from the rod, as those fast taking fish snatched the fly.
So there you have it, we’re not for one minute saying we are giving up coarse fishing, but what it did make us realise is how much pure “fun” there is to be had from pushing the boundaries a bit and trying something different. We didn’t have any targets or expectations. No personal bests to break or aspire to, just a nice day out in pleasant company… something that fishing lends itself to. We are already looking forward to our next meeting with the lady of the stream.