I had one day this weekend to get out, as domestic matters were going to occupy my time one of the days, and I have been itching to get out on the river to have a go at the Grayling for what seems like an age. Fishing chum Radek messaged he was looking to head out on the Clyde for a part day, on Saturday so I decided he would be pleased to be slowed up by me!

Lamington Woes

He was keen on fishing in the Lamington water which in itself isn’t a problem, actually, I would like to but it’s a bit of a trial to get on when you don’t have a ticket ( as I don’t). The trip to Biggar where I understand I could have got one is a 75 minute drive and I can well imagine it being close to an hour and a half before I had even started heading to the actual river, after going there. Come on Lamington and District Angling Improvement Association, get yourselves on Fishpal or issue tickets on your website and make life easier for those not local?

I was actually keen on fishing in the Valley, Radek further up ( he was on a limited day pass time wise) so we compromised meeting up the top of the river to have a go at a few wee “holes” I know ( though its not a long stretch) then we would move elsewhere.

I arrived ahead of Radek but he wasn’t far behind and we made our way down to the river under a leaden sky. There were small blots of pink on some of the clouds indicating sunrise was at hand but the sun stayed resolutely behind an overcast sky all day. While it was far from freezing and not remotely frosty, being that up here you are over 1200 feet up, you still want to be wrapped up.

Trials

I have posted a review about my new softshell trousers which I tried in the water in my waders for the first time. I had used them under my old waders on the Swanswater Charity Competition day and I was arguably too warm at times. This was a better test. I have also decided this season/year I am going to take more note of water temperature and to this end have got myself a small anglers thermometer. In the water it was 4Degrees C, much the same as the air temp, but remember, water draws heat away 20 times more efficiently than air so standing in a cold river chills you off quite quickly if underprepared.

It was to be a day of trials, for me and arguably I was more interested in trying a few things out than catching fish ( though fish would be welcome obviously). I wanted to try two of my reels which have been causing me some displeasure in the last year. And I wanted to try a new long leader set up using these Daiwa Carp leaders I have been hearing about.

Radeks New Rod

Radek also had some new kit in the shape of a new Adams Max Series nymph rod, and wanted to have a go with that. I stared at a short run and with the river quite low and clear ( both lower and clearer than I anticipated) I decided to fish upstream. I have been watching some videos on nymphing recently and was trying a few things I had learned regarding presentations and trying to think about such matters more than maybe I generally do. Radek had gone up the river a little way and was trying a few deeper holes but neither of us located any fish. The water was so clear I suspect had we taken the interest of any fish, we would have seen them move. We didn’t.

Water less travelled- for me

We then decided to head downstream to Abington. While its easy wading here, and easy to access I have to confess it is an area I feel less inclined to fish and haven’t for quite some while. It seems to be a bit of a go to area for many, I suspect because its easy to access with a few layby’s near the river, but the consequence of that is, it gets hammered. And to be frank while fish patently do get caught there, it is rare you hear of good numbers, and I have never touched a fish on this section in all my years!

So, it was actually quite nice to visit some water I have fished only rarely and in fact I went to a bit I had never fished before.

Comparing kit and trying different things

There were a couple of very deep pools and we tried there, Radek was getting out a nice length of line with the new rod, and it seemed well suited to the line he was using, a RIO 000 I understand it was called, a competition legal nymphing line. Radek was champion in the Scottish National Fly Fishing League 1st Division this year so is no mean angler, and moves up to the big boys section in the Premier League this year. For my part with my Sunray Nymph line on I was struggling to cast it in any shape across and slightly into the wind. I have to say for all I have heard of these lines I have been singularly unimpressed. I personally think they are more marketing over substance. Radek’s RIO line was beautifully slick in comparison to mine and shot through the guides.

Nicely Balanced Set Up

The Adams rod was a lot firmer than my Hanak Rod, though mines had another 4” on his with all the extensions in place. I had a go with it later on in the day and it was lovely and light, and perfectly balanced with his Sage 2200 reel. My understanding is these rods from Spain, are made using Spanish manufacturer Maxia blanks but come in at a fraction of the price at around £200. I cannot tell a lie I was impressed. When we went to another area, having drawn a further blank here, I re-rigged to give the long Daiwa Carp Leader a go.

Reel Issues

I have three reels I use for my river fishing.

My first and one I use with a 4weight DT fly line in summer when fishing dries usually is my very old but brilliant Hardy LRH. Its simple, robust and I love the click check noise it makes. Not drag, narrow arbor but fun to fish with.

For nymph fishing I have two options. First the Hanak Superlight in 3/4 weight format. It’s a bit of a conundrum of a reel. It is VERY light, the spool is ridiculously hard to pull off its spindle, but sometimes when fishing with it, the spool simply falls off! I have no idea how this happens. It seems to be more of a problem if the reel has gotten wet from being submerged ( say when putting the rod down to release a fish). However I wanted to give this a go yesterday and kept a careful eye on it all day to see if the spool would come adrift…..it didn’t not once. So the jury is out on this, user error, fault or design flaw I have no idea.

The Daiwa New Era reel in a 2/3weight variant is heavier but balances my 3 weight rod with extensions fitted, better. I have this loaded with a 3# DT line but sometimes fit a French leader to the line and keep the line spooled, though in summer I occasionally use the line for a spot of wet or dry fly fishing conventionally. The problem I have with this reel is, well actually two issues…. One it has no click check which I hate. I like the sound of a reel, though on the flip side it has a very good drag and a reliable spool fitment locking nut.

But the main issue is the line getting caught between the spool and frame of the reel. It has happened several times when using a long leader and I worry one day it will jam at an inopportune moment. However again, it never did it in my trials yesterday and I think I might know now why it does it, I think maybe I need to reduce the capacity of the spool a little , time to remove some backing, and try it again.

Setting up my leader

These come in spools of 5 leaders of 9metre length. They taper from a 30lb butt section down to a 12lb tip. To this I attached a micro ring and then a 2 foot knotted section of RIO bi-coloured indicator line. I don’t use this simply straight through, I spool off about 2 and a half feet. Then I cut it in the middle at a point where the two colours meet. I then re-tie these two differently coloured sections of nylon tail using a double blood knot leaving the two tag ends about an inch  outside the knot. Finally another leader ring goes on the end and finally my tippet, in this case I was using 1.4kg Stroft GSM and two bugs. This was set up with my Daiwa reel as the carrier, and it was noticeable how this heavier reel balanced better with the fully extended rod, than my Hanak Superlight which while light gave a result that was very tip heavy in use ( even with the balance weights and fighting butt fitted to my rod). Something to ponder.

Fading fast

The last area we both fished, again resulted in a big fat blank. There were a few trotters about and I never seen them with fish either, I think Radek was talking to a chap while I fished mid river so I didn’t really hear what was being said but I think the chap said he had found one fish which was enough to send him home happy as the day got darker and the weather more threatening as the light faded.

Radek left around 3pm and I soldiered on another 40 minutes but never located anything though I did feel it had been all in all a satisfying day and I got quite a lot from it….just not a Grayling!