Stevie Munn: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

At the time of writing I have just returned home to Ireland from Scotland. Where I was attending the wedding of Partridge PRO-Team member Dougie Loughridge and his lovely wife Fiona, I am sure you will join me in wishing warm congratulations to them both. I was staying with 

my good mates Marc Light and another Partridge PRO-Team member Jim Lees and I would like to thank them all for putting up with this old dog. This trip for me had a couple of firsts. It was the first time I would be dressed for a wedding in full Scottish regalia with a kilt, jacket, sporran the works. It was grand though and I did laugh a lot when getting ready, however as most of the wedding guests were dressed in their traditional dress, I did not feel out of place at all with my Celtic brothers.

The second first is maybe even more surprising. I was staying a couple of days after the wedding and as their trout fishing season had just opened, Jim, Marc and Myself were going fishing on a couple of great nearby rivers. I think Dougie wanted to go to but he was apparently busy, although I am not sure what he was at or what’s more important than going fishing, sorry chum!

Ok, back to the second first - if you get my meaning. At this time of year (March) wild trout fishing can be challenging to say the least, you really need a spell of warmish weather and I have found that in the North of Ireland we are in front, even in front of Scotland as our fishing really seems to be ahead slightly. Even though I can see them almost from my bedroom window, we seem a few degrees warmer. As early season river trout anglers we are really looking for a hatch of Large Dark Olives (Baetis rhodani) which is probably the most widespread of all the UK Ephemeroptera. Trout and anglers alike love these flies as it can be the best sport you can have in the early season. That said if conditions are not favourable for a hatch, but you want to catch fish, sometimes you need to forget about the dry fly (my preferred type of trout fishing) and try other tactics this can be the wet fly, streamer or the nymph.

Now here comes the second first, about time I hear many of you say. I have now fly fished for too many years to count. I started as a young boy and during the season I fished a lot. I get cantankerous if I don’t get out to fish at least 3 or 4 times a week, regularly its more days. I have fished many countries in the world and have nymph fished in many different ways, including what I call the normal way, which I have done all my life - casing upstream and keeping up with the currant while watching my line for takes. I have also fished Czech and Polish nymphing techniques, but I had never tried the French Nymphing style although I had heard of it. So when Jim Lees said we should try the French leader I was eager to learn. This is something I want to say firstly, I have been a fly fishing professional for over twenty years and fly fished all my life but if you live until you are 200 years old you will never learn everything in fly fishing, it's just too vast a subject. Although many guys think they know it all, believe me they do not. This is one of the things I love about our sport you are always learning, especially if like me you fish for Trout, Grayling, Salmon, Steelhead, Pike - in fact anything that swims. Though I must say I think my fish love may still be the wild brown trout.  

 

French Nymphing is a modern development of fishing nymphs at longer distances anything from 3-9+ metres using a tapered leader often called a French Leader and often using no fly line at all. French nymphing gives the fisherman a way of fishing nymphs at range with control. So, that’s what we did and after Jim, (who I must state is a fanatical dry fly angler), showed me what to do - I did it! Athough at the start I found the casting strange as my rod was a bit stiff and too short for what we where doing, and with no fly line out, it took me a wee while to get it. After a while I managed to get the hang of it and was able to get my heavy tungsten beaded flies where I wanted them, well a few times. I will practice it now at home to get better.

And this I am happy to say is how I caught my first Scottish trout of the season, a fine brown trout of about a pound and a half, that was great fun in the strong current on my 4 weight fly rod.

 

Here also is the nymphs I used all dressed on Partridge Barbless hooks by my good mate Jim Lees, Cheers Jim.

 

Stevie Munn works full time in the angling sector as a Game Angling Consultant , guide, writer and qualified game angling instructor, he has appeared in many angling books, DVDs and angling shows all over the world. He has also fished many places in the world and grew up fishing on rivers and Loughs of Ireland where he often guides. He runs teaching lessons in fly fishing and hosts groups fishing in Canada, Iceland, Argentina, Ireland, Norway and other parts of the world. Stevie also runs one of Europe’s biggest fly fishing shows, the Irish Fly fair in Galway in November. You can contact him via email anglingclassics@aol.com or get more info at  www.anglingclassics.co.uk