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Italians Fly Fishing Masters Workshop

June 13th, 2014

I was a guest of FFM in Italy last year see my previous report.  I found the technique interesting and there were definitely aspects of the style that we can utilise and apply to our fishing in the UK.  I am pleased to report that they will be running a one day workshop on the Annan at Hoddom Castle on the 13th July, here are the details.

This is a great opportunity to anyone who is remotely interested or even critical of the style to come and experience it first hand.

I have had to cut and paste the details as I am struggling with the media link, may fix it given time:

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Massimo Magliocco and Fly Fishing Masters UK welcome you to the introduction Italian Style of Casting.

We are a non-profit organisation. A charge is necessary to cover our costs. For the day course the fee is £30 per participant (this includes fishing the river Annan in the evening – Hoddom Castle beat)

Information and booking: philipbailey31@btinternet.com

This agenda is designed to be informative and interactive. We encourage you to ask questions to of our instructors. We hope you enjoy our company and the days events.

Agenda

Hosts and Controllers – Massimo Magliocco and Philip Bailey

9.00 – 10.00 Demonstration and discussion on technique This will be undertaken on both grass and water by Massimo Magliocco and compared by Philip BaileyThe technique will be explained and a range of different casts will be demonstrated.
10.00 – 12.00 Tuition of u how to make the basic Angular cast used by FFM The FFM Instructors will work with individual participants to explain the technique and how to make the cast. This is the basic technique used in all FFM casts. This will be undertaken on grass.
12.00 – 1.00 Lunch
1.00 – 3.00 Demonstration and discussion of all casts used by FFM in ‘fishing’ situations. This will be undertaken by Senior Casting Instructors.Each cast will be demonstrated in ‘live’ fishing situations and benefits explained to participants. This will be undertaken on running water.
3.00 – 5.00 Tuition on different casts The FFM Instructors will work with individual participants to explain each of the ‘Backhand’, ‘Totally Under Tip’, ‘Slowed Down Angular’ and ‘Overturned’ casts. This will also be undertaken on running water.

The Italian Connection

February 18th, 2014

The  Game Anglers Instructors Association have over the last few years had visits from SIM (Scoula Italiana de Pesca a Mosca) at two of their events in Llangollen and discussions with FFM (Fly Fishing Masters) at the last few British Fly Fairs.  Their presentations have always been of interest and enjoyable.

The Italian style is credited for its development to Roberto Pragliola born in 1937 in Florence.  Roberto went on to found SIM with Osvaldo Galizia its current President.  There are a number of schools of fly casting in Italy I have mentioned two and a third would be TLT Academy of which currently Roberto Pragliola is their technical director.  Whilst there are other schools in Italy, these three can be traced back to Pragliola and SIM which celebrated its 25th Anniversary recently.

Italian schools tend to be very different to GAIA.  We certify instructors so that they are able to hold a certification enabling them to go and coach for a fee or not as the case maybe.  Italian organisations are run on a similar basis to angling clubs. They can best be described as a group of passionate like minded anglers who firstly enjoy each other’s company and have a passion for fly casting

What is the Italian style of fly casting? It was designed primarily to fish the small tight mountain streams of the Apennines best described as overgrown and pocket water.  They needed to buy time for the fly before the current swept it away and need to cope with casting under bushes and in confined spaces, hence the short rods and long leaders. The style is restricted to dry fly fishing.

River Tronto, Ascoli

River Tronto, Ascoli

These short rods tend to average 7 ft 6 in long and take lines of 4 weight or less, double tapers are the lines of choice.  The Italians tend to refer to the style as “coda leggero” or light line and have a tendency to under gun the rod by a line weight.  They like tip action rods. Whilst the preferred rod is short they can also adopt the style for longer more traditional rod length of 8 – 9 ft.

Leaders as mentioned earlier are longer than perhaps we would choose 16 – 18 ft being the norm.  They are also made up of lengths that are looped together rather than joined with a blood or water knot.  The reason for this is if they deliver a pile cast, although they would probably call it something else, the leader is less likely to spring open and straighten.

River Tronto, Ascoli

River Tronto, Ascoli

Italian style casting is very distinctive by the amount of drift that they produce both on the back and forward cast.  This drift is produced after a very short sharp power snap.  They really understand that the power snap or rotation determines the size of the loop.  They generate extremely tight loops which enable them the cast into very tight spaces. To create these loops they have very small deviations off the straight line path. To smooth the cast out and reduce the effect of recoil they introduce drift both back and front.

To compensate for the lightness of the line they create additional line speed or velocity to deliver the cast.  The power snaps are early in the back cast; they would say just in front of your cheek or eye and late on the forward stroke shortly before the arm is extended.  When the style was first introduced to the UK there was a lot of talk about not having any stops on the back and front cast.  I remember the internet arguments that took place asking how this can be and that if you abide by the five essential you need a stop back and front.  What they really meant I think was that due to the lightness of the line to flex the rod effectively you had to increase the tempo or line speed.  They have stops immediately after the rotation phase directly followed by drift, it is fast smooth and flows when you watch it being done correctly.

This is not intended to be a thesis on the Italian style of casting, I will ultimately encourage you to attend a work shop to discover more.  I have recently spent three days in a place called Ascoli, Italy with FFM to find out what they got up to and how they organised their activity, I can say it was an eye opener.

Firstly they do speak the same language as us albeit in Italian.  Stroke length, straight line paths, avoiding slack, drift, trajectory, tailing loops and many more aspects of the perfect cast are in their vocabulary.

They conduct assessments of their instructors to an agreed standard and they keep detailed log books so that they can monitor improvement or areas that require improvement. They also used modern technology to conduct analysis of their casts both for self improvement and fault finding exercises. By modern technology I mean Go-Pro and other video cameras.  On this occasion they had obtained a conference suite from the local council and after seven hours of casting then sat for a further two or three carrying out the analysis.

Why bother with this style you might be asking? I think that you should bother because it adds another string to your bow and gives another dimension on casting.  You also do not need to go to Italy, but you can if you wish. To attend a workshop and there are likely to be two in the UK during 2014 a July workshop  given by FFM and likely to be in the Border area and another by SIM in September in the South Wales area. They will not be expensive and I am certain that you will learn something so would encourage you to attend.

Fly Dressing Master Class and the BFFI

February 10th, 2014

For the last few years I have been lucky enough to get an invite to a fly dressing master class that Paul Little runs in the lead up to the British Fly Fair International.  There are normally a dozen or so tiers present from the UK and the USA.  The USA sent Marvin Nolte and Stack Scoville, Peter Kealy from N Ireland and Brian Burnett from Scotland.  These were just a few names there was circa  a dozen or so of us present.

Dusty Miller Variant

Dusty Miller Variant

Paul Little was extremely patient and managed to get us to tie three flies over the two days.  We did not just tie three flies we talked a lot and discussed and demonstrated various techniques along side the tying.  I have always had issues with bronze Mallard wings on Spey flies, not being able to put them on without splitting, so we covered this in some detail, hopefully my Spey flies will be fantastic to look at and fish with in the future.

Another interesting technique was to substitute the rachis of a feather with a touch of glue off a glue stick.  When tying in feathers such as brown mallard as a wing it is normal to leave the rachis attached so as to support the fibres whilst tying in.   The rachis sometimes is on the stiff side and tends to pull on the fibres. Exchanging the rachis for glue off a glue stick left a more flexible support, its possible also to apply some to the butts of a built wing fly.

Double Winged Ackroyd

Double Winged Ackroyd

Brown Shrimp Grub

Brown Shrimp Grub

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above are a couple of other flies that we completed.  The Ackroyd is a Dee style fly with deltas wings and the grub by its name is meant to represent a shrimp style salmon fly.  All the flies in the photos were tied with gut eyes.

Following the workshop I then spent a couple of days with my GAIA (Game Angling Instructor Association) pals at the British Fly Fair   promoting the Association and tying flies.  I am always a bit like a child in a sweetie shop, as a fly dresser there is always so much to see and so many must have items.  This year I was particularly impressed by a Whiting Spey Hackle cape.  It is the perfect heron hackle substitute absolutely stunning feathers that could well have been Heron apart from the fact it was salmon pink.  Sadly I could not buy it as it belonged to one of the tiers but I did return on a number of occasions just to look at it,  how sad is that.   I will never criticise women coveting handbags and shoes again.

Alberto2v2

Clyde Style on the Saturday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The GAIA aspect of the show was good with lots of people showing an interest in what we did and how we do it.  It made me think about what our priorities where as an organisation, we definitely need to spend more time introducing people into game angling.

All three of us me, Chris and Alun and past chairman of GAIA Phil White

 

A day at Lanrick

May 1st, 2013

The other day I had the pleasure of a days salmon fishing on the famed Lanrick beat of the River Teith. Lanrick is just upstream of   Deanston famous for its distillery.  The Teith itself is a great salmon and sea trout river with the added bonus of being just 40 mins from Glasgow and Edinburgh. Lanrick is some 3.5 miles long with approximately 1.5 miles of double bank.  It reminds me very much of a highland river, shallow for most part and easy to  fish at most times of the year with a floating or slow sinking line. Lanrick is in two parts Upper and Lower beats.  The lower beat is marked by a famous cauld pool called simply the “Pool” at its bottom limit .  This pool must act as a barrier and slow down the movement of fish in very low temperatures and water conditions.

The "Pool"

I shared the beat with another rod and only managed to fish a limited number of pools.  The “Pool”  and “Gravel Bank”  are two fantastic pools, in fact I am not doing the place justice as all the pools that I fished that day were great pieces of fly water.  The river also has a reputation for big fish, my second largest some 21lb was taken off the Teith albeit further up stream.  If my memory serves me right I recollect a fish close to 40lb being taken off Lanrick a few years back.

Gravel Bank

I wish that I could report that I had caught fish but sadly no salmon, I did however catch a superb brown trout of approximately 2lb from the “Garden Pool” which set my pulse racing for an initial second or two.  A down side is that whilst in the fishing hut I noticed a sign that read they practiced total catch and release which I totally support.  It then went on to say that any Grayling caught should be killed which is a bit of an archaic view towards our fourth natural game fish.  In this day and age we should value all our game fish.  If you want a days fishing close to Glasgow and Edinburgh I would strongly recommend Lanrick.

 

Willie Gunn

January 10th, 2013

In the late 80,s I think it was when I first met Willie Gunn on the banks of the Brora I can even remember it was on the Ford pool.  I remember him as being a small weathered man getting on in years, Willie had been a ghillie on the Brora.  He talked about “backing up in the spring”. Some of these Brora pools are long and flat and the early spring fish would collect in the slower deeper water and the only way then to fish them was slow and deep was to “back up”. The pools in question were the likes of Rallan and Bengie and also probably the tail of the Madman.  Winters prior to the 80′s were much with sharp frosts which would keep the river low and slow the fish downand keep them in the lower river.

Rob Wilson  of  Brora  kept the tackle shop at the time he I believe first dressed the Willie Gunn and they sold them tied on Waddington shanks and even thick copper wire for the heavier ones formed as Waddingtons.  I bought some and then over the years made some, it was without a doubt a successful fly in fact I caught one of my better fish with one on the River Teith at 21lb, it worked a treat.  Over the years I had lost may way with Cascades and variants and have not used a Willie Gunn for some time, although even my cascades kept the basic colour concept of orange, black and yellow.

Now some of you may know that I help run the National Piping Centre in Glasgow, bagpipes if you are confused.  Well one of young stars happens to have a girl friend whose father just happens to run The Helmsdale Tackle Company.  How lucky is he attractive girl friend whose family run a tackle business in a fantastic part of the world.  Knowing that he had plans to visit them over Christmas I jokingly said (joking but always hoping he might want to oblige his boss) “bring me back a fly or two”.  Imagine my delight when he returned in the New Year with two beautifully tied Posh Willie Gunns Coneheads nicely boxed with treble included.

Posh Willie Gunn

Posh they certainly are with posh tosh opel mirage tinsel on the body.  The season opens again next week in my part of Scotland and I am planning to resurrect my interest in Willie Gunns especially the Posh version if you want to try one and do not tie then may advice is contact the Helmsdale Tackle Company with the link above.