Hairy Biker catches lunch

Last Wednesday I met Si King, one half of the Hairy Bikers, and his son Dylan at Chatton for a coaching session, writes Bob Smith.

Tuesday, 15th May 2018, 3:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th May 2018, 4:05 pm

Si had phoned a couple of weeks ago and said he needed a lesson to improve his casting, as he had developed some bad habits. He asked if his son could come along too, so I could develop some of his skills and enthusiasm for fly fishing. No problem I said, and no pressure!!

I arrived early as I had told nobody that a Hairy Biker was coming. I took the member of staff to one side and told her. She said no problem, then I said they would be staying for lunch! No pressure she said as bacon and egg sandwiches were required. I just laughed as I knew everything would be fine, and it was.

I met Si and Dylan at the lodge and began with a cuppa and a chat so I could see how much they knew about fly fishing. Si had obviously fly fished for a while, but Dylan was new to the sport. I went over the basics of how to choose a rod for the purpose and how important it was to match the reel and line so everything balanced.

I showed Dylan the different types of flies and the patterns I tied myself. I set up both Hardy rods, showing them how not to break the tip, and put a Buzzer pattern on one and a Pheasant Tail pattern on the other. Both were size 14 and I regularly catch with both which I tie myself.

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As we walked up to Ross Lake I explained about the history of the fishery, the stocking policy, types of trout and my way of fishing.

We found a whole bank to ourselves and it was ideal as both Si and Dylan are right handed, and the breeze was blowing from the left. This meant that when they overhead casted the breeze would blow the fly line away from their body.

Si said he wanted to learn how to roll cast as he had always found it difficult. He showed me how he usually did it, and within a couple of minutes, with some small adjustments to his technique it was much better. I told him to have a few casts to reinforce the skill without retrieving any line, just using the rod to move the Buzzer very slowly.

I took Dylan a few yards along the bank so he could try. Dylan just got the line in the water and Si shouted he had a trout on. His line was tight and the trout was running here there and everywhere.

I told Dylan and Si how I played fish and talked Si through until he brought it to the net. Well that’s tea sorted he said!

I returned with Dylan, took the Pheasant Tail off his leader and replaced it with the same Buzzer as Si had caught with. Dylan picked up the roll cast technique quickly so I left him to practice and went to take Si to the next level with his casting.

Within five minutes Dylan shouted and he had a fish on. Si and I walked along and Dylan carefully played the trout and managed to land it too. It’s the best feeling in the world he said.

We had a terrific five hours, Dylan was well and truly hooked, and Si learnt how to do a few new techniques. He discovered how to use the rod more to improve the distance cast and especially the presentation of the fly onto the water. This improvement resulted in more takes and another trout to the net after lunch.

I really enjoyed my time with the Hairy Biker and Dylan and I’m looking forward to more sessions and visits to my house so they can begin to tie their own flies.

How do you follow that? The next day I was back on the water with Phil, he had fished before but not fly fished. It was bright and really warm, an ideal day to learn how to fly fish, but not particularly good for catching fish.

I covered the basics and off we went and Phil picked up the principals fairly quickly. Using a Nymph pattern with a small bead I could see if he was getting a nice turnover, so the fly was landing way beyond the end of the fly line. It was a small Nymph with a very small bead just behind the eye of the fly.

Phil was enjoying his day off and about an hour into the session, the line went tight, fish on. Phil played the fish quite well and he managed to get the trout, about 2lbs, to the net.

After lunch we fished Chatton Lake, and he got another bite.

This time had to play the fish, his arms were aching, but he reeled in a massive Brown Trout, weighing in at about 16lbs.

The weight is not that important, it was seeing the technique work, the enjoyment of playing the trout and for me seeing the smile on Phil’s face when he did everything right and got the fish of a lifetime to the net during his first ever fly fishing lesson.

Another special day, two in a week!