Thornton Beck

Plan A fails on tiny beck


Well, that was a bit disappointing. I made my way up to Thornton Beck, a tiny stream that winds its way through the Dalby Forest up in North Yorkshire with a clever plan in mind. I’ve generally struggled here; the fish are small and highly skittish. They don’t rise freely, see you coming and are generally reluctant to be caught.

Last time out, back in June, I had some good results with a six foot rod, short tippet on a furled leader and single beaded nymph. Buoyed by that relative success I thought I had it sussed. I’d abandon the fly line entirely, lengthen the rod a tad (to seven foot – needs to be short because its a real jungle) and bung on a couple of beaded nymphs and fish it a la francais.

Prospects looked fine – overcast, slight breeze generally in my favour and a good amount of water. I got in at the cattle drink here, having to limbo under the barbed wire:

I merrily made my way upstream, putting the flies in deeper pools under rougher water – the sort of lie that had proved productive last time. Nothing. I spooked a lot of fish. This short range nymphing wasn’t working. With such a short rod and so much overhang I had to get too close to the lie and the nervous fish skedaddled. So I decided to put on a conventional line with a highly buoyant emerger with a fat foam wing to ride the rapids. That allowed me to cast from a bit further away into water like this:

It was still a struggle. Eventually what worked, to a small degree, was sneaking up to a bend and casting around the corner as it were. That produced three small fish. Actually they are all small…

But some smaller than others…

Ok, so what did I learn? Stealth and concealment is vital; you need to cast from as far away as possible; the fish will take a heavy nymph but can also be brought up by a dry.

I’m going to give it another go. Next time I’ll revert to the six foot rod and put on a wet fly such as a black and peacock – kind of half way between the dry and the beaded nymph. That should do the trick (haha). Watch this space!

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  1. Nice photos Simon, fished Thornton last week and it was a struggle too, compared with a couple of months ago. Most of the little pockets and eddie seemed fishless this time. Really hot weather we had maybe hasn’t helped?

    1. Thanks Matt, in fact it was because I remembered you saying you’d had a good few on the Adams that I tried the dry, although none were rising. Saved the day! Reassuring that you also had trouble finding fish!

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