As I say, I don’t really expect to catch much, if anything, in March or April so I headed up to our stretch of the Seven at Sinnington with few expectations. The temperature had dropped to around 8C, with a thuggish little breeze that had a distinct easterly aspect.
Last year I resolved to have a proper go with north country spiders, but never got round to it. I’ve never had much success with these flies, probably because I wasn’t fishing them correctly. One of the issues is that every instruction video on the internet shows the angler in a river that is 30 or 40 metres wide, so using a long rod in those circumstances isn’t an issue. I fish in small streams and rivers and have always considered that things would be too tight for a classic set-up of 10ft rod, held aloft, with a cast of three flies. I’ve generally fished spiders in the more conventional nymphing technique, casting out a longish line and hoping for the best.
But last night I was watching a YouTube of Oliver Edwards – on a massively wide river – and decided that maybe I could give it a decent shot, certainly before the trees come into full leaf and the canopy makes things tricky.
So I tackled up with the 9ft 4 weight Hardy Ultralite, with a 5ft furled leader [declaration of interest: this was a kind gift from Steven Dawson, who makes terrific furlies: firstname.lastname@example.org] and put on a shortish cast of about 7ft with three of my crudely tied spiders: a partridge and orange on the point, snipe and purple on middle dropper and waterhen bloa on top dropper:
The river was low and clear and while the wind was biting, it was at least in my favour. I started off in some relatively shallow water, making short casts upstream with little fly line showing from the top of the rod and holding most of the leader off the water to avoid drag. The furled leader made casting a doddle (that plus the tail wind), and I soon got into my stride. Actually, it’s a really satisfying way of fishing and you soon develop a nice rhythm. And unlike fishing with a heavily weighted nymph, you don’t have the hassle of getting snagged all the time.
Despite the chill in the air, I spotted a rise just close to the tree stump on the right hand bank:
I cast the team of spiders towards the rise two or three times, working my way slowly forward. Suddenly the line twitched, I flicked my wrist, felt a pleasing resistance and brought in a decent little brown of about 10″ that had taken the orange partridge on the point:
I was dead chuffed. I’d followed the drill, done things by the book and blummin heck it had worked. Tremendous.
No more fish showed for the next 45 minutes or so as I plodded upstream, happy to prospect in likely looking areas and get a feel for the method.
About 200 yard further up I came to a tasty channel on the left-hand bank that certainly holds fish in the summer:
The water was flowing relatively slowly along the bank, giving the flies time to sink to some depth. I kept casting in and watching the leader like a hawk. Another almost imperceptible twitch in the line and I lifted into another nice fish:
This one had taken the snipe and purple on the middle dropper. This was again a great source of joy for me, catching on a classic little simple, relatively drab fly, no gaudy beads or flashabou ribbing. Who needs bling?
A few casts later and a similar result, again on the snipe and purple middle dropper:
And then another, this time on the orange partridge:
I carried on for another hour or so but no more fish. I think I’m a convert. I can only see this method becoming more effective as the water warms up and the fish start moving more. To the tying vice!