Fly fishing: Grayling simply cannot resist Jane

The Copper  Jane fly, dressed by Stephen Cheetham.
The Copper Jane fly, dressed by Stephen Cheetham.
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I love shopping in Helmsley, especially when I can take a detour along the river bank on my way home. It’s especially useful to have the company of my dear wife; she enjoys opening gates.

So, as we skirted the second meadow, I could hear the water rushing over the falls; music to my ears. For most of the summer, the river has been so low that there was merely a trickle over ‘The Cascades’ making the fish hard to find. Now there was sufficient flow to provide them with sanctuary and life-giving food and oxygen.

The rain had only ceased over the previous night, so the water resembled gravy. I sat upon the memorial seat for a moment and formulated a cunning plan.

Mid-morning the following day found me sitting upon the same seat, beguiled by the russet, red and yellow autumnal adornment of the ancient oaks and beeches that border the river, which was the colour of Anglers Reward from the excellent Wold Top Brewery: perfect.

Below the seething aquatic turmoil of the plunge pool, the water rolls and boils as it passes over submerged rocks. In front, behind and between those rocks are pockets of calm water where a wily grayling can loiter and wait for elevenses to tap her on the nose.

I adore these November days, the sunlight illuminates the autumn colours and endows the whole valley with the patina befitting of an ageing year. Better still, there is no point in early starts at this time of the year, I like the sun to bless the river before I venture forth.

My plan was to dangle a nymph about a yard below a whopping great floating klinkhamer fly with a tuft of buoyant fluorescent pink polypropylene big enough to serve as a buoy in Whitby harbour. There is no place for ‘subtle’, I need to see my marker amidst a maelstrom of moving water that is flecked with foam.

By allowing the nymph to search all the nooks and crannies of the stream bed, whilst watching the floating fly like a hawk, any piscatorial inspection of the sunken offering will be shown up by movement of my indicator fly. You will recall that, in the trade, this is known as ‘klink and dink”. So, the klink is sorted, what of the dink?

Whilst visiting the USA, I was introduced to a fly called the ‘Copper John’, and very effective it is too. The name is a bit of a giveaway, the body is fashioned from copper wire; a consultation with Professor Google will reveal all. However, when the water is coloured, something a bit more eye-catching is required so I decided that ‘John’ should undergo a gender realignment and become the ‘Copper Jane’. Steve has tied one for you to see, it’s a jealously guarded secret pattern so please do not tell anyone about it. Even Prof Google remains blissfully ignorant.

I always believe that time by the waterside is not just about fishing. As I gingerly stepped into the margins, something caught my eye. Brown trout were throwing themselves at the tumbling rush of the waterfall in an effort to reach the headwaters of the river to spawn. They were truly on a mission.

Starting merely inches from my feet, I began to allow Copper Jane to fossick around in the submerged clefts and crevices. She had travelled no more than a yard when my shocking pink klink simply disappeared.

I lifted the rod tip and immediately felt the unmistakable powerful pull of an angry grayling. I explored no more than 20 yards of river that day and a further 11 grayling fell for Copper Jane.