I’ve had a couple of seasons fishing the Avon, Whyle and Nadder on the Salisbury & District Angling Association beats. I’m still a massive novice and learning all the time but I have found some flies which have worked for me. I’ve put some notes and tying videos of the flies below and I’ll update as and when I find more successful flies.
It might be called ‘duffer’s fortnight’ but I’ve found mayfly time to be tricky; you’re either waiting for them to start taking or, when they do, there are so many naturals that its difficult for your fly to stand out. After a couple of fishless attempts when the trout just didn’t seem to be interested in my offering, I tied up a Grey Wulff and a Mayfly Emerger by Alex Jardine which worked a treat. Although Mayfly’s are big and often tied on size 10 hooks, I found both of these more successful on size 12.
I realise that ‘olives’ is a very generic term for a lot of different flies but I’ve found a few patterns which seem to work pretty much all year with a couple of subtle tweaks. So I tie these patterns bigger and with a darker olive, for the Large Dark Olive, and also in smaller sizes with a lighter olive for the other variants which seem to hatch in the middle of the year. I also tie an olive version of the Jardine Mayfly Emerger as the foam makes it a useful prospecting fly – you can cast a lot without it sinking.
Some of the emerging olives can be more grey/brown in colour than green, so the Parachute Adams tends to pick up a lot of fish, particularly in June/July:
Just like the mayfly, it took me ages to find something that the trout on the Avon would take for sedge. I also found that tying them smaller helps, so I will tie most of these on size 14 hooks. Also, the sedge around the Avon seem darker so I will use a darker body dubbing, almost grey.
I’m still learning how to nymph fish successfully on chalk streams. On my club waters, its dry fly only until the end of June and then a single nymph only. This can make it tricky on some beats as the weed is often high by then. Whilst the Avon is a chalk stream, not all beats are clear so sight-fishing for nymphs is not easy. I’ve found a simple foam indicator about 3 foot above the nymph helps see the takes. In terms of flies, the traditional stuff seems to work well. I have variations of the pheasant tail and hares ear with beads and leaded but I find the original Sawyer approach for the pheasant tail (using the copper wire to weight the fly) works well, as the fly tends to stay mid-stream and avoid the weeds. I tie these relatively small – in sizes 14, 16 and 18 mostly.
Midges and daddy longlegs ….