Three or four weeks ago I travelled north of the Yorkshire border into Durham to fish the upper River Tees. I went with a friend of mine Phil, who like me is a Tenkara enthusiast.
We went on the recommendation of another fellow instructor Olly Shepherd who informed us that there was a trout behind every boulder. Now who could ignore a tip off like that?
As the upper Tees is quite shallow, with boulders, and not too wide, it is ripe for Tenkara. Having obtained our tickets from the estate office we travelled off road for a while straight into the valley below Cow Green Reservoir. I must say that this area is almost as beautiful as Yorkshire - wild but stunning.
Having set up the Tenkara rods quickly, as you do, we did a quick survey of the river and chose our starting spots. Olly had recommended the good old snipe and purple which I duly cast out and after a couple of minutes picked up my first Tees brownie, small but perfectly marked.
I will not bore you with the next couple of hours but I did wonder if Olly had been pulling my leg. Nothing, no fish at all, a complete blank. Was it me, my fly, or just one of those days?
I decided to do a ‘Mr Crabtree’ and sit on the bank and smoke my pipe, if I had one, and take in my surroundings and perhaps watch Phil for a while. Now Phil has been harping on about this dry fly called a Hares Ear Emerger which he swears catches more fish than any fly he has and watching the fish rise to the fly, I can see why he swears by it.
To cut a long story short, on my return home I did a search on the internet to see if anyone else uses this fly and sure enough there were quite a few anglers who rated it highly, so off to the tying bench.
The instructions for tying this fly stipulate that the body should be scruffy and spikey. I have had my hands slapped a few times for being too neat when tying so I did my best to make a mess and produce a few of these ‘wonder’ flies.
Last week I was invited to fish the Wharfe around Burnsall, a lovely stretch of river and one I know reasonably well. Having fished my North Country spider patterns for the first couple of hours I decided to change rods and fish a dry fly and out came Phil’s fly.
I had spotted a rising fish not far from the bank but the river bank at that point was rather steep making casting tricky.
To make things worse, on top of the bank were two rather large thistles. Making a note of the position of the thistles I cast out. Now I don’t know if you knew but thistles can walk or rather shuffle up and down the riverbank to try and annoy you, trees and bushes can do the same, so before I grew wise to their movements my fly had caught them a couple of times.
Having now got wise to the irritants behind me I concentrated on the target in front of me. Still rising, my first cast went a foot or so wide of its mark but the second cast floated the fly straight over the fish and up it popped. Bingo! A rather nice one pound brown trout.
Was it luck or was it the fly? Well, I can assure you that it was the flies as it went on to perform as well as any other fly I have used.