Like many things in life preparation is usually the key to chalkstream fly fishing success. Making sure everything is sorted beforehand is critical as is not actually forgetting anything on the allotted day.
If I am travelling any distance and not fishing one of my home waters on the doorstep I invariably make a list of things I need to take with me for a comfortable excursion and to eliminate as much frustration as possible.
Most of the chalkstreams can be fished with either an 8 ½ or 9 foot rod. These days I tend to be using 4# as standard but occasionally if the weather looks like it might be blustery or I am heading for one of the larger lower stretches of the river Test I might sneak in a 5# just to make casting a little easier. If the rod I chose has not been used for some time I very often will check the rings to make sure none are grooved which can easily cause damage to the coatings of fly lines. Next the reels, again I make sure I have the matching reels/lines for the rods I am taking. Always give them a quick spin to make sure all is in working order and if they have not been used for some time detach the spool and put a little grease on the spindle. Again if I have not used the line for some time it is good practise to strip off most off the reel and check for nicks or worse still delaminated coatings.
Check the landing net for holes; it is strange how mice like the taste of a smelly net hung up in the garage over winter. If the net is of the flip up type make sure the mechanism works smoothly and does not jam, always a huge inconvenience when trying to land a fish.
Leaders and tippet the weak point between you and your fish, if either are more than a couple of years old bin them and start afresh. For the sake of a few pounds is it worth losing a fish to rotten monofil., I think not.
[one_half][/one_half][one_half_last]Now for the fly selection, always a little tricky for the newcomer to chalkstream fishing but with the help of a bankside guide such as “ A Pocket Guide to Matching the Hatch” written by Peter Lapsley and Cyril Bennet and published Merlin Unwin, sorting out what flies are on the water should not be difficult. If in doubt just try and match the colour and size to something that is in your fly box. Alternatively head to the local tackle shop where generally there will be information and flies to buy[/one_half_last]
Now for the fly selection, always a little tricky for the newcomer to chalkstream fishing but with the help of a bankside guide such as “ A Pocket Guide to Matching the Hatch” written by Peter Lapsley and Cyril Bennet and published Merlin Unwin, sorting out what flies are on the water should not be difficult. If in doubt just try and match the colour and size to something that is in your fly box. Alternatively head to the local tackle shop where generally there will be information and flies to buy.
Many chalkstream beats do not allow wading but it is always a good idea to take along a pair especially if you will be kneeling whilst covering a fish or standing on the edge of the river to land a fish.
Always make sure you know exactly where you are going and where the beat access points are situated, it is a huge chalkstream faux par to end up fishing on the wrong beat.
Take a hat to obscure the light and a good pair of polarised glasses to cut out glare and help spotting fish that much easier, both items are also safety requirements and will protect you from the errant fly cast which could end the day prematurely.
Other items to consider putting in the bag include sun block for those lazy summer days and of course a camera to capture the results of all your efforts.
When the day arrives and you find yourself on your chosen beat do not be tempted to rush along the banksides, take your time and you will be amazed at what can be seen.
Finally make sure you are legal and purchase an Environment Agency rod licence before you go, failure in this respect could be very costly.
Buy your licence HERE
If all the above appears a little daunting with the protocols and etiquette then book the services of one of our guides who will help with all aspects and ensure you have a good grounding in how to fish a chalkstream successfully
To book a guided day to help with your chalkstream fly fishing success contact Bill Latham or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.