It may sound odd, but February is one of my favourite months as far as fly fishing goes. It's a month where we say goodbye to the Grayling and wait in anticipation of what the imminent trout season will offer. It's a time to clean, check and update all of your gear, top-up those fly boxes (all bought from us, obviously!). But most of all I love to dream of what the upcoming season will bring;
- The first spring hatches
- Those balmy summer evenings by the river; and of course
- The Mayfly.
I'm a firm believer that each river has its own nuances as far as fishing (and the fish contained within it) are concerned, and that the most successful anglers on any given stretch of water are the ones with the most experience of it. Generally in life there are no shortcuts, but there are ways to help your experience along a little quicker.
But first, you need a little bit of context ...
I fish the River Derwent in North Yorkshire - in fact, I pass it every day on the way to and from Barbless Flies HQ. I try to fish the river twice a week in all weather and river conditions throughout the year. As you might expect, I now know it pretty well. If you have ordered anything from us in the past you will know that we send out 'Hatch Cards' with every order - detailing which flies are hatching and which imitations to use for a specific month.
For the whole of the 2020 season (when we were allowed to fish), I decided to use the info on the cards and make notes on which patterns worked (and more importantly, which ones didn't) for each fishing trip I made:
It was at the end of the season that I dug out these cards and re-read my notes to see if I could make any sense of 'my fly fishing year' - a few things were apparent from the off:
- Size: All of the flies I was successful with were much smaller than I had originally thought (i.e. for the Yorkshire Derwent, size 18's were by far the most successful size throughout the year).
- Patterns: The majority of the patterns I used were more 'impressionistic' than realistic (i.e. my 'top' fly was a size 18 IOBO Humpy - doesn't really imitate anything specifically, but does give a good impression of most hatching insects).
This set me thinking ... how can we use the past to influence how we fish in the future?
The first thing you need is a good hatch chart (just like the one below - which, for today only, you can download for free) - this will give you an idea of which flies should be hatching, and when they should hatch:
To download your Free Hatch Chart Click on the image above.