French Nymphing in a Welsh River under a Bavarian Castle?
Last weekend I watched the Eurovison Song Contest, this week I’ve mainly been getting confused by the whole concept of Euro Nymphing … with a French Leader tied on you feel fit for purpose but take care as this feeling can soon unravel. Somehow when your bit of Orange string is floating at distance and (apparently) it looks like it’s doing what it should be, then you’re French Nymphing, you can also pick this off the river surface as long as you still maintain slack line at distance you’re still in the realms of liberté, égalité and fraternité but then it comes into close range and the slack falls out of the equation, then apparently we’re then into Czech nymphing territory. I’ve not sufficiently stoic to begin to think about considering what the Polish and Germans do at present. The way you use your leader appears to change a lot within 10 or 20 yards on a Welsh river, kind of globe trotting a la nymph technique; it’s all very perplexing, all this border hopping makes my head hurt, when it comes to getting into Euro nymphing I think I’ve scored nil or perhaps a measly deux points?
A hastily organised opportunity to fish some good Welsh water came together last minute just before the weekend; the i’s and t’s were left drifting, as the organisation was undemandingly minimal and just about tacked together amongst our work and other commitments. I can’t speak for the boys but it was a bit of a coup on my part, grabbing a day pass just before the demand for chaffering the children took hold. I managed to stick a flag in the pinnacle named ‘Dad’s going fly fishing” and claim it as mine for the Saturday. It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to get out fishing with ‘my buttie’ Terry and introduce ‘my buddie’ Nick to the wonders of the river Taff (and it’s a good job I speak South Walian, or these two couldn’t have communicated).
I’ll cut to the chase; in fishing terms my role was that of average level involvement, dropping to useless bystander on much of this outing. It simply wasn’t happening for me, a few missed takes and then long dead periods of very slow going lead to a lack of concentration and distractions took hold of me, so I donned the cloak of scribe and cameraman. Demonstrating a hopeless lack of fishing focus comes naturally sometimes, after a hectic week, not being able to raise the right levels of drive needed to respond to the delicate takes and tune into the Heron like sharpness required for French nymphing is sadly all too easy. Spending too much time taking in the scenery and waxing lyrical is good for blog writing but doesn’t get the job done, the boys got down to the proper business of nymphing with far greater efficiency, whilst I faffed with camera and took in the wildlife, wading through potential good lies and clambering up banksides to get better view points for photos. Prodigy Nick held our end up and concentrated on the real issues in hand, after seeing Terry take four reasonably sized fish out of the first pool within circa 5 minutes of the kick off, it was clear who he needed to copy, the most impressive extractions happened whilst we were getting tackled up and just started dipping our toes in the margins. Once in the river, getting accustomed to teetering amongst the big rocks that make for tricky Taff style wading took a while to re-acclimatise to as well (I can sense people thinking ‘excuses excuses’) but we got into mode and managed to cover some lovely water.
Whilst I cursed a lot and wrestled mentally with my miscalculated assumptions on the simple pleasures of fishing and the supposed relaxing nature of this particular fly fishing trip, I was simultaneously pondering the theories behind the 4 dimensional complexities of French nymphing and thoughts of the probability of getting the nymphs through in the right line at the right time on each drift at the same moment a fish is ready to take. Arguably French nymphing is a type of conceptual fishing for those with imagination and focus, or at least it appears that way to my ill disciplined brain? It seems to me that much of it is done via imagining the river topography and contents below; I’m realising that I need to get more attuned to these issues and drop the misconceptions that it is a passive or secondary technique; you can think about things too much of course and as the day was full of late spring bristle, with lime green tones settling down into richer hues and darker green bass tones kicking in with abundance, I just clicked away with the camera. This time of year is a change point, natures initial botanic enthusiasm settles as the foliage begins to bears the full volume of the seasons freshness and kicks back ready for summer, I was just content to be out and about.
Now I’m a bit of a ‘dray flay’ man on the quiet, not through any perception of eliteness but mainly because it is visual, direct and interactive (not that nymphing isn’t) but as a graduated coarse fisherman, my buddy Nick is into the finer subtleties of sub-surface fishing more than I am (at present), so he was able to take himself beyond the melancholy induced by lack of rises and get into the unseen zone without undue fuss. Terry is a nymphing master and on this trip he mentioned it’s his natural and preferred method of fishing, so the boys focussed on just doing it. Nick already accomplished but learning the finer points of ”Welsh Nyphing” from Terry, all at a rapid pace that gels when people just appear to ‘get it’ … Terry just doing what Terry does naturally and generously coaching able scholar Nick to greater levels of skill. At this stage I should outline the etiquette involved in this sort of trip; whilst you might pay for pleasantries from an official guide, when you’re out with your mates (even if they know the water and you don’t), then the challenges are old style, it’s like being back in the 70’s, you’ll receive a few pointers but put simply, the fishing is raw and real and you need to take responsibility for yourself. The day is devoid of risk assessments and CRB checks and there are but a few simple rules – firstly you should try to remember to avoid drowning, if you do fall, remember to smile at the camera as you disappear over the rapids, then perhaps think about working on not taking offence if someone laughs at your inadequacies or cock ups … and for gods sake, please just try and keep your pecker up and enjoy the party … actually, it’s wrong of me to offer this fairy tale description, as it’s always a relaxed good laugh when out with both Terry and Nick, being able to learn by your own mistakes amongst friends is what it’s all about and this makes for a an uncomplicated day out, just another great day on the river. The going was tough in fishing terms though, as the river was on its bones … nevertheless, a fair number of fish were extracted and subjected to a photo study. As usual the requisite levels of fun were easily exceeded, Terry out fished everyone as normal and Nick soaked up all the pointers, I’ll be back soon to apply what I’ve learnt in my own time.
Nick bending the rod a little and yours truly doing some sort of that there ‘Bavarian style, Czech, French, Welshing’ (?):
Bug shots (first two courtesy of Terry Bromwell):
Tight Lines, Splash
Addendum – feeling a little short changed by the last visit, the urge to return was niggling me; I managed a 50 minute return visit on the 31st May, as I was in the area with fishing kit in car and time to spare. Managed two well proportioned browns out of the section shown in the first picture; no fish pics I’m afraid as traveling light and fast on the river but hasten to say the mental balance is now restored! A lovely summer’s day and it was good to be out, with Mrs Splash on board the fishing wasn’t the only issue on the agenda, with the children safely packaged off with the grand parents on holiday in Charmouth were free to roam so a visit to the castle was in order followed by a couple of early evening ‘Butty Bachs’ in the Inn at the top of the lane.