2023 Fly Fishing Course – Reflections

Pulling into the field at Inghey Bridge at 9 am on Sunday 23rd April, I had no idea of the treat I was in for. A fly fishing knowledge-fest over 3 Sundays that left no stone unturned. Fly fishers from far and wide had converged on a little corner of Skipton on the banks of the river Aire, fine  T-shirt weather making the picturesque trout river even more agreeable . After a meet and greet with Philip Bailey and Tony Quinn we got straight down to business, basic kit selection, knots, fish handling, no question went unanswered, or was considered silly and we were soon put at our ease by Philip and Tony’s easy going manner.

Great emphasis was placed on casting, with each instructor working 1 to1 with a student and then working down the line. Tony showed me  a different way to hold my rod, and this simple change improved my cast immediately . I finished the first day tired, but with a feeling of relaxed confidence, and very much looking forward to the next installment.

Unbelievably Sunday the 14th of May was also dripping in sunshine, dry fly and wet fly tuition today. North country spiders and even the appearance of a horse hair line, perfection loops, droppers, how to make your own leaders everything covered in depth. We learnt how to read different water conditions  and select appropriate flies. More casting in the field and on the river. The Aire is perfect for this, presenting many different profiles, fast sections, deep slow pools, over hanging trees and wide open spaces.

Sunday the 28th also dawned fine and sunny ( the sun shines on the righteous ). Nymphing today and it turns out you don’t need to buy a tons worth of specialist kit to do it well, (said without a hint of buyers regret, of course). Yours truly even managed to catch two tiddlers , not much bigger than the nymph I caught them on, but I’m counting them all the same.

This course is exceptional value for money, the knowledge it imparts and the confidence it instills are priceless. The instructors shared their immense knowledge freely in hints and tips across the  practical sessions . All of us students improved in confidence and ability regardless of our starting point and no one was left behind.

The course was great fun, and it was great to spend time with like minded people just chatting. With only 14 days to go to my retirement the course was a timely introduction to the rest of my fly fishing life – much to the disgust of my wife. I wish I had found this course years ago as it would have saved me from a great deal of frustration, saved my wallet a great deal of expense, and saved fish from my inept thrashing about.

I can’t wait to fill in my first catch report.

Tight lines.

Martin Rafferty