Fly fishing instruction and guiding on Dartmoor and devon rivers
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Enquiries@flyfishingdevon.co.uk    

  • Welcome to Fly Fishing Devon run by Geoff Stephens and Paul Kenyon 
  • We are qualified fly fishing instructors and Snowbee registered instructors and fishing guides
  • The videos on this page describe how we can help beginners, improvers and  experienced anglers enjoy the wonderful fly fishing available on Dartmoor and South Devon rivers and stillwaters
  • Please send us an email if you would like to arrange fly fishing instruction or a guided trip
Fly casting instruction, more ...

Guided fly fishing, more ...


A taste of guided fly fishing in South Devon


A taste of guided fly fishing on Dartmoor

 
Appreciating Devon's wild brown trout

How does a trout catch a fly?

Please send us an email if you would like to arrange fly fishing instruction or a guided trip

We use social media to provide information that we hope will increase your enjoyment of fly fishing on Dartmoor rivers
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Fly Fishing Devon

Instruction video soundtrack
  • Learning how to cast a fly can be difficult because you can’t watch yourself while you cast to see what you’re doing right or doing wrong.
  • The best solution is to spend a few hours with a qualified game angling instructor.
  • We recommend beginners take their first lesson on a stocked stillwater that gives you an opportunity to catch a fish on a fly.
  • We provide suitable rods, reels, lines, flies and explain how to select appropriate tackle for different types of fishing
  • We will teach you how to perform roll and overhead casts and shoot line to achieve distance.
  • We can also teach you how to single and double haul to deal with awkward winds and cope with those “just out of reach” fish.
  • We will introduce you to some of the bugs that make up a trout’s diet. And how to select a fly to “match the hatch”.
  • Hopefully you will then catch a fish so that we can show you how to play, land and safely release a fish
more on instruction...

Guiding video soundtrack
  • Over 50 years ago when the pace of life was much slower, the writer Dermot Wilson commented “In the West Country you can catch trout from after breakfast till sunset, and enjoy the open air and the country for as long as the sun is in the sky"
  • Devon is still blessed with mile after mile of superb fishing for wild brown trout, sea trout and salmon.
  • A fly fishing guide can unlock the secrets of catching these wild fish in unspoilt surroundings.
  • Many of the beats we use have benefited from work carried out by the Westcountry Rivers Trust to improve access for anglers.
  • A guide can help you read a river and understand why some parts of the river are more likely to hold larger fish.
  • Westcountry trout are generally not fussy eaters but sometimes the size of the fly does matter.
  • Being able to recognize the insects that live on stones on the bed of the rivers will give you confidence that you are using the right type of fly.
  • A roll cast is often the best way of delivering a fly when you are faced with overhanging bankside vegetation.
  • We can help you refine your casting techniques.
  • If you understand what triggers a trout to take a natural fly then you will be able to choose an artificial fly with greater confidence.
  • A guide will explain how a trout manages to intercept a tiny morsel of food being carried by the current down a fast flowing river.
  • This will help you present your fly more effectively.
  • We can help you plan your trip by offering advice on where to stay and suggesting places to eat after a day on the river.
  • You probably prefer to use your own equipment. But if you want, we can lend you a rod, reel and line and supply flies and tippet material at no extra cost. Please bring your Environment Agency rod licence. We can supply you with Westcountry Angling Passport permit tokens.
more on guiding...

A taste of guided fly fishing in South Devon: Video soundtrack
  • The Upper Yealm Fishery is tucked away on the southern edge of Dartmoor National Park
  • There is private partking alongside the meadow that borders the river
  • This section of the river has a good stock of brown trout and receives a un of sea trout in the summer
  • There is a chance of catching a salmon particularly in the autumn when salmon fishing extends into December
  • The Yealm Fishery is divided into two beats 
  • The Lower beat has five holding pools and offers good brown trout fishing 
  • The Weir Pool is especially suited to beginners. It is relatively wide and free from overhanging vegetation.
  • The majority of wild brown trout caught on Dartmoor and South Devon rivers are less than eight inches long
  • But each season anglers catch larger twelve or thirteen inch fish
  • The graph show the number of trout - of various sizes - caught during a survey by fisheries scientists on a local river 
  • Most of the trout were less than eight inces long Relatively few trout of ten inces or longer were caught and hardly any fish of thirteen inches or longer were taken
  • Video shows 12 inch fish to hand
  • It is possible to use an overhead cast on some places on the Lower beat 
  • But a roll cast is better especially on the Upper Beat where the river is narrower and overhanging vegetation can catch your fly 
  • In the summer months the Yealm enjoys a run of sea trout 
  • These are occassionly caught during the day 
  • But sea trout are very easily spooked during the daylight
  • More success is likely by fishing after dark 
  • Daylight reconnaissance is essential to learn where the sea trout are lying 
  • I hope you enjoy the Upper Yealm Fishery and that you encounter the wildlife, some common and some rarely seen.
  • When I first started fishing westcountry rivers 40 years ago otters were rarely seen, but they have made a comeback 
  • Nowadays it's not unusual to see otters during daylight 
  • Last summer I was lucky enough to encounter a pair of otters while I was watching a shoal of sea trout 
  • The adult otter and pup had caught a fairly large sea trout and they both held on to the fish as they tumbled with it downstream
  • I was taken completely by surprise but I did manage to catch some footage after I had fumbled arounf and retrieved my camera 
  • If you listen carefully you can just make out the cat-like cry of the pup in this video

Appreciating Dartmoor's wild brown trout: Video soundtrack
  • The journalist Andrew Brown in a newspaper article has summed up the attraction of fishing n Dartmoor. He wrote "To gain a sense of remoteness from the quotidian world and closeness to primal monsters is one of the main reasons for fishing. This is quite unrelated to the size of the quarry. It's a function of their wildness. Wild brown trout are now almost impossible to find in the south east of England and little values where they are found compared to fat stocked fish. Dartmoor offers the last remaining accessible and affordable fishing for them in southern England"
  • The majority of wild brown trout caught on Dartmoor and South Devon rivers are less than eight inches long
  • But each season anglers catch larger twelve or thirteen inch fish
  • As guides and instructors we are often asked "Are big fish more difficult to catch than smaller fish? and are big fish smarter than smaller fish?"
  • As guides and instructors we often ask ourselves "Do skilled anglers catch more fish and do skilled anglers catch bigger fish?"
  • This short video discusses the size of trout in the rivers we fish on Dartmoor and in South Devon 
  • I hope it will help you appreciate our fish of whatever size
  • It's our job to show you the necessary skills to catch them and to explain why we treat them all with great care
  • The graph shows the number of trout of various sizes caught by anglers on a westcountry river
  • Most of the trout were les han eight inces long
  • Relatively few trout of ten inces or longer were caught
  • And hardly any fish of thirteen inches or longer were taken
  • Two questions spring to mind: "Why were so few big fish caught?" and "Are big fish older and wiser?" and therefore less likely to be caught by anglers
  • The larger fish are certainly older. This graph shows the growth rate of wild brown trout in our area.
  • Fish of twelve to fourteen inches take six years to reach that length
  • Our trout are about three years old before they spawn for the first time
  • Consequently small fish should be carefully returned to the water so that they have an opportunity to reproduce
  • It also helps to use barbless hooks
  • But are larger surviving fish necessarily smarter and more difficult to catch than younger smaller fish?
  • They are certainly better at avoiding predators 
  • They may be more easily scared bu unfamiliar shadows, sights and vibrations than non-survivors 
  • But we need to remember tat fish have evolved to deal with their natural enemies, not necessarily anglers flys 
  • Provided you can present an appropriate fly at an appropriate time and place, and most importantly do it in such a way that you do not scare the fish, there is no eason why you should not be successful 
  • But how do you catch the bigger fish?
  • There is a well-known saying that 10% of the anglers catch 90% of the fish
  • The graph suggests that there are simply fewer bigger fish, and therefore the more fish you can actually catch, then they greater the chance that one of them will be big
  • If you do catch a big one treat it with the respect it deserves; after all it is one of nature's great survivors 
  • But don't worry if you don't catch a big fish. It really is just a matter of proportions!
  • John Gierach's book "Fly Fishing Small Streams" is a beautifully constructed mixture of 'How-to' information and mental approach to fishing small streams.
  • Gierach has a refreshing approach to the increasing tendency to equate fishing quality with the size of the fish caught 
  • For example he writes " Let me introduce an idea, just something to kick around. Maybe your stature as a fly fisherman isn't determined by how big a trout you catch, but by how small a trout you can catch without being disappointed. And of course without loosing the faith that there's a bigger trout in there"

How does a wild brown trout catch a fly?: Video transcript
  • Anglers often ask "What fly will catch a trout?"
  • I want to turn that question on its head, and explore how a trout recognises and intercepts a fly drifting towards it on the surface of the water
  • The answer may give an insight into how to design effective trout flys and why our artificial trout flys are sometimes ignored by feeding trout 
  • Trout see the world through a skylight or circular window surrounded by a mirror 
  • Marinaro's great insight was to recognise how trout use the position of the fly in this window to make an effective rise 
  • Because of the laws of refraction fish cannot see objects that lie below an angle of 10 degrees to the water surface at the edge of their window
  • The red triangles in these diagrams show this blindspot extending outwards all around the edge of the trout's window
  • This is why we adopt a stealthy approach when casting to a rising trout
  • We often judge where to cast our fly by noting where a trout rises to take a natural fly
  • But there is a flaw in this approach which ihas been explained by Vince Marinaro 
  • It turns out that trout get advanced warning of a fly long before it appears in their window 
  • Trout are able to see parts of an insect or artificial fly that rests on or punctures the mirror
  • The bodies of emerging flies break through the water surface; they hang beneath the mirror
  • The legs of duns resting on the surface also create a 'light pattern' that triggers the start of the rise 
  • A number of authors have provided photographic evidence that trout can see the wings of approaching insects in their window 
  • The wings of an insect that protrude above an angle of greater than 10 degees to the water surface are potentially visible in the window 
  • Therefore a trout has two cues that an approaching object may be edible 
  • Firstly body parts that break through the mirror 
  • Secondly wings appearing in the window 
  • There are photographs in Clarke and Goddard's book that show that when an insect reaches the edge of the trout's window a crucial event takes place
  • The wings, body and legs of the insect merge together 
  • Marinaro provides similar photographs and he summed up his extensive observational studies of trout feeding behaviour in these important words:
  • "It is an inescapable conclusion that the trout places the fly always at the edge of the window for all purposes: viewing, inspecting and taking"
  • Why does the trout keep the fly at the edge of the window?
  • I think trout behave in this way in order to judge the exact position of the fly. By keeping the fly in a precise position relative to its body, the trout stands a very good chance of engulfing the insect.
  • I'm not for one moment suggesting that trout do mathematical calculation. But I am suggesting that the trout's behaviour has evolved in response to the physical laws which describe its everyday environment.
  • We know that the trout's window has a width of 97 degrees and that the radius of the trout's window is a precise function of the depth of the trout in the water 
  • Therefore the distance between the trout and the insect can be calculated. This distance is a precise function of the depth of the trout in the water 
  • The trout stands a very good chance of successfully ingesting the fly if they drift downstream keeping the insect on the edge of the window. 
  • The acquisition of this skill may involve learning, maturation and practice.
  • The main message from this analysis is that a successful trout fly hould present a primary trigger stimulus that penetrates the mirror. This engages the trout's attention and initiates the rise. 
  • Wings on the artificial may act as cues during a rise to maintain the trout's movement towards the fly 
  • Marinaro's theory can also account for how a trout intercepts a natural or artificial fly swimming beneath the surface.
  • As the sunk fly approaches the fish sees two images:the actual fly and its reflection in the mirror 
  • And then a single image when the fly crosses the edge of the fish's window 
  • By keeping the fly on the edge of the window, the trout stands a very good chance of engulfing the insect.

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