Waters & words

Posts tagged “DDD

Getting done in 1st prep

I was coaching my daughter this afternoon on getting her homework done and over with quickly. As all “old farts” do, I related my own school experience, and the memories came flooding back.

At boarding school. we had early prep, which must have been somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes in duration, followed by supper and thereafter “long prep”. In early prep we were all showered and dressed, but many were still red in the face from the exertion of the afternoon’s sport, and spirits were still high. Little work was done. Most procrastinated, figuring they still had long prep lying ahead of them like  a vast and miserable desert.

What does this have to do with flyfishing?

There was one bloke, who worked like a machine in early prep, in an attempt to get it all done in half an hour. That was me. 51% would do. (I didn’t tell my daughter that part.)  And that was because, if I got it all done in first prep, I could tie flies for the whole of “long prep”.

1984 (4 of 6)

After supper, in the prep room, the vice was out, and I was churning out DDD’s by the dozen, while my mates did maths. There were several of us who fell into this pattern.

1984 (1 of 1)

Some of the slower learners (and I was by no means a fast learner), were also keen fly-fishermen, and they too tried this. Unfortunately their marks plummeted, and the result was that fly tying during prep was eventually banned at the school. What a bummer!

1984 (1 of 6)

And speaking of slower learners:  There was one fellow, who shall remain nameless, who provided us a lot of entertainment. He was one of those gangly, uncoordinated kids, who fly fished, but couldn’t quite get fly tying right. He was inclined to bind his fingers to the hook or suchlike. So I sold him a few flies.  Another chap witnessed this, and concocted a plan. He snuck in through the dorm window, and stole the flies that had just been bought. Within an hour he presented them for sale to the same fellow, claiming that they were tied much better than mine. The plan worked. What’s more, he did it several times, each time stealing exactly the same flies and re-selling them!  After a while guilt set in, and we came clean with the fellow, restoring his pocket money , but denting his dignity.

I can’t help feeling that we must have done him a service in some way, and contributed to his education, because I bumped into him a few years ago, and he is now a captain of industry.  But someone must still be taking money off him, because he still doesn’t tie his own.

So, my advice to my daughter:  Get it done in first prep, (and learn to tie your own flies, so that you won’t be had).


What’s in the box?

On Sunday I had one of those quiet days at home. After week-end, upon week-end of a days fishing plus a day of some other activity, I needed to re-group, and sort out my fishing tackle. Fly reels were turning up in cool-boxes in the kitchen, leaders in my briefcase,  fly floatant smeared on my drivers license, that sort of thing. It was time to sort it all out. I also needed to empty the fly-patch, since I am sure I have been dropping flies off of there into bankside vegetation all over the province.

So I emptied what was in there onto the coffee table.

Trout flies (1 of 1)

It is not a complete collection, but a fairly representative sample of what I have been tying on the business end lately. 

This has all of course been on stillwater, with the rivers having been closed until this week.

At the top there is a klink syle buzzer and two woolly buggers. Down the left hand side, those olive jobs are: a Minkie, an FMD and a Papa Roach.

Centre left going down, are : an egg pattern, a gill-bodied nymph, and a San Juan worm.

Centre right: a black DDD, a cdc emerger, a caddis larva, a PTN flashback, and a red-eyed damsel.

Far right, a snail, a humpy and a DDD.

The largest one is a #6 (the Minkie), and the smallest the CDC emerger at #18.

And the flies that have done some damage?

The FMD, The egg pattern, and that red and black woolly bugger.

What patterns would you have added to a stillwater winter collection?


Journeys through the journal (6)

I don’t remember what the occasion was, but a number of us had been invited up to Bill Duckworth’s Trout syndicate at the top end of the Dargle Valley.

We were staying over at the “Opera House” , and it was a colourful gathering to say the least.

I vaguely remember that the band of merry fishermen included Jim Read, Mike Harker, Henry Aucock, Bill Duckworth, Trevor Sweeney, Hugh Huntley, and myself. There may have been others.

It was October of 1995. Spring had sprung, and I remember a  cool wind across short green veld, some of which still bore traces of ash from the winter burn.

I remember Bill strolling out onto the front “lawn” of the cottage in his stripy pyjamas in the morning with a pair of garden shears, to trim a small tree so gnarled from the cruel weather up there, that I remember thinking that it hardly needed Bill’s help in containing itself.  Bill asked me to move my vehicle around the back, since its presence beside his target shrub was doing little to improve the view.  It was quite early, and many of the guys were still snoring. Being the youngest, I was up early….keen to fish. I don’t know why Bill was up, but I politely obliged by moving the car, before setting off to fish.

I started out at the top dam, where a number of small fish were moving. I was in adventurous spirits though, so at some point I reeled in, and headed down the steep rocky valley that leads from the wall of the top dam, down to “woodley”. In those days there was no cottage down there, but the dam, the newest on the property, nestled in the valley in an inviting sort of way.

I was wearing some very heavy canvass waders. I had brought them back with me from the States a few years earlier. They were direct from the Orvis shop in Vermont, which I had visited, and were my pride and joy. They weighed a ton. Boot-foot they were.

I waded in to the cool water at Woodley dam, and tried my luck there for a while.

Then at some point I realised that the weather had turned warm and blustery, and that my walk back up the valley in those hot waders was not going to be fun. However while I had been fishing, the others had come down to “bottom dam” in a couple of the vehicles, and I could see them off to the West, fishing that water. I figured I would mosey over there and look needful round about the time they were due to head back for breakfast. So I reeled in and walked over.

When I arrived at the dam, I was really hot!  So I walked straight up to the nearest shore, checked to see I wasn’t too close to one of the others, and waded in quite deep so as to benefit from the temperature of the water.

I figured that while I was there, and since the others weren’t showing any sign of leaving, I would throw a fly. At some point I saw a dorsal fin porpoise in the water ahead of me, and on the strength of that, I put on a whopper of a DDD…the largest one I had in my box. Size 6!

The fly rode out there in the waves like a small ship, and I stood there, enjoying the cool water, and not particularly hopeful of anything in particular.

Then the dorsal appeared, and neatly swallowed my fly . I struck, and the fight was on.

Mike  was nearby, and I remember him appearing on the scene to ask if I had a net. I replied that I had. I had a small folding net that had belonged to my grandfather. Just then the fish jumped. “Um, about that net Mike”. No…he didn’t have one either. Mine would have to do.

The fish jumped again.

“I think you had better wade back to within the weeds Andrew” he said “because if that thing sees you, you have had-it!”. They were wise words, and I followed Mike’s advice. Mike didn’t know I was using five pound tippet.

It wasn’t long after that, that the fish came past like a stream train, just off the weed-bed. I saw it coming, and at the last minute I thrust the net out in front of it, and it swam straight in.

The fish was very surprised, and it was not ready to give in. I dropped the rod, and holding the net with one hand, I grabbed its tail with the other, since only its head was in the hopelessly small net.

I walked ashore, and a few meters more, just to be sure she didn’t manage a spectacular escape.

Trevor weighed her. Try as he may, he could not get her to tip the scales at ten pounds, but she was mighty close.

DDD (1 of 11)

The actual fly that I got her on. It has since lost its tail to the elements.

DDD (7 of 11)

It was quite a fish.

DDD (6 of 11)

 

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The fish today, on my lounge wall. The inscription on the brass plate comes from one of my favourite poems.

Bill was thrilled at the size of the fish that had come from his waters. He was even more thrilled when he heard that the fly used to catch it, was the one named after him. He asked if he could have a look. “My goodness” Bill said, in his inimitable falsetto whisper tone. “I’ve never seen one so big!  Could you tie me some of those?”

How could I refuse.

A few weeks later I met up with Bill somewhere. I pulled out my car’s ashtray, which in those days was used to store trout flies. I had it crammed with enough big DDD’s for Bill, myself, and a few other guys I had promised some to.

“My, those look wonderful” said Bill, as he turned the ashtray upside down, collecting the whole lot, and after quickly admiring them, he crammed them into his waiting box, and he was off with them  all!


It’s still a delight….in any colour

The DDD is old hat here in South Africa.

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(Photo courtesy of Tom Sutcliffe)

I did a quick google search for DDD. First time around I got all sorts of weird stuff, so I added the words “Dry Fly”, and still got no less than 89,000 hits!  That says something, doesn’t it? I will admit that after page three the real DDD gets replaced by tent fly sheets, and obscure digital equipment, but let’s just say you won’t struggle to uncover information about the real thing.

Probably the most comprehensive article about tying and fishing it, is written by none other than its inventor, Tom Sutcliffe. I wont even try to top that!  Take a look here.

In one’s online search, you will find debates about which deer hairs are acceptable, (most notably the wonderful Klipspringer hair vs conventional deer hair). You will find debate on what to use as a hackle, whether to tie it roughly cut, as Tom does, or neatly. You will see discussion on whether to use a deer hair tail, or a hackle tail. There is mention of using some krystal flash in the hackle. And there is talk of colour.

In the colour debate, the primary discussion goes around natural vs yellow. I remember many years ago, getting Hugh Huntley’s help to dye a patch of klipspringer bright yellow, and the fear and trepidation of dunking an entire patch of highly sought-after klipspringer hair into the simmering cauldron. I still have that small patch, and I still tie up a few yellow versions.

But in recent years I have gone off on another tangent with the DDD, and that is the black one. Maybe it has something to do with a sub conscious affection for  the new South Africa and political correctness, I don’t know.

What I do know, is that you wont find a whole lot of information on the black DDD.

I got an unexpected result when I did an image search for the black DDD:

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Fly Size

I often marvel at the guys who buy their dry flies. Mostly I marvel at guys who buy dries for the second time. First time I can understand, but second time around….wow!

Now this sounds like an obscure thing to say, but have you seen the size of dry flies in tackle shops?

Generally the fly sizes start about a #10 or #12, and go down to a #16. If you are lucky, perhaps a #18.

Now that’s just fine if you are imitating a hopper, or in the case of the DDD, a dead stable rat, but lets consider the mayflies for a moment. And what about the caddis, and the midges?

Next time you are out on the water on one of those sticky summer evenings, when everything is hatching around you, blow some of those “miggies” out of your nose, and have a look at them. Measure them against the thumb nail of your small finger, or better still, prop one up beside a #18 imitation on your fly box. Looks a bit silly, doesn’t it!

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