Fly fishing diary: July 2016

What a month! George fishes in the final of Junior Troutmasters in Northumberland, we meet James Stokoe of BBC2 's The Big Fish (twice!) and the family help out the British Fly Casting Club at The Game Fair, Warwickshire.

Fly fishing diary: July 2016
© Fly and Lure
Fly fishing diary: July 2016
Picture copyright © Fly and Lure
Fly fishing diary: July 2016
Fly fishing blog Estimated reading time 32 - 54 minutes

Sunday July 3rd, 2016

With Ellerdine Lakes closed for the summer and Llyn Brenig a bit on the windy side, we opted for a trip to Llandegla Trout Fishery in North Wales today.

The aim was to get George some practise for the forthcoming finals of Junior Troutmasters in Northumberland later this month, so today it was a Dad versus George match. Like the competition, we'd be fishing 30 minutes per peg and then moving.

On the first peg, George started off with his trusty Red Rascal cat's whisker creation and had a fish within the first few minutes. Apparently, as it seems unlikely that the competitors at Troutmasters will have this "secret" pattern (though Charles Jardine covered it in Fly Fishing and Fly Tying, so it's not that secret), I was banned from using it, so I opted for a red blob instead.

Picture copyright © Fly and Lure.

I'd figured out that George was stripping the fly back six inches below the surface at a fairly brisk pace, which was getting the rainbows to chase and create big bow waves as they shot after it - though they often turned away at the last possible minute.

I was having great fun and managed to get several impressive follows that created massive bow waves, but every time I got a take I missed it. Meanwhile, George was into his second trout, and by the end of the first 30 minutes he was 2:0 up.

Picture copyright © Fly and Lure.

For the second peg, we shuffled along the bank towards the corner of Llandegla's lower lake and set the 30 minute timer again. There were lots of fish feeding around the weed beds on the far side and again they really seemed to want to chase a fly - especially a dark red one!

I was quickly into my first fish, then lost one, then had a bow wave follow on every cast for about five minutes. Meanwhile, George was "going through the card" trying to find other flies that might work in the spot he was fishing. While he was struggling to get a pull, for me, it was a pluck every cast.

Picture copyright © Fly and Lure.

Eventually trout number two came and it was a bigger fish - around four and half pounds - which seemed intent on pulling me into the weed beds. Fortunately I managed to put some side-strain on it and coax it away and into the net, to finish the peg 2:0 up on George and neck and neck overall.

For peg three I stuck at pulling the lure. The fish though were now getting a bit wise to this and the constant lines flying over their heads.

George was struggling now with no bites to his slower retrieve, despite switching back to a red fly. Eventually, I got another fish - this time a blue, shortly followed by another four pound rainbow, putting me at 2:0 for the peg and 6:2 overall.

Sensing impending defeat, George thought it might be a good time to stop, so we had a cup of tea and a biscuit and George decided to end the competition early and just fish for fun instead.

t Another fish in the net for George.

After we'd been refreshed, George was focused again and had opted to copy my winning technique which quickly led to his third fish on a red blob, then a fourth on a black lure, while I took another on a red blob too.

By now, the sun had come out which turned the fish off the feed and made things very challenging. We moved to the top lake, where it was much windier and tried the same methods there. The fish in this lake seemed to be down much deeper, so we switched to red blobs with a pink brass bead.

They also weren't quite so keen on chasing, but a fast figure of eight did trick one fish for me, then another, then another. Then it went completely dead with no bites for either of us for a couple of frustrating hours.

As George's patience was starting to wane, we decided to call it a day and leave at 2pm. Given the unfavourable fishing conditions, it had been a frenetic morning with some exciting fishing, and it was a great opportunity to get some practise prior to the match in a few weeks and have a great laugh in the process.

Sunday July 17th, 2016

After a rare week off fishing last weekend, we were back at Llandegla Fishery today for another Corwen and District Angling Club junior day with talented fly fishing coach Paul Ainsworth.

Paul was teaching George a number of new techniques, mainly focusing on casting and fishing teams of three flies using a variety of lines. George got started on the upper pool by fishing a six weight fast intermediate line on his Echo Distance Competition rod.

Attached was a team of three flies - a Foam Arsed Blob (or FAB) on the point, a small blob on the bottom dropper and a cruncher style nymph on the top dropper - with George's aim to find the depth at which the fish were feeding.

Paul taught George to slow his double haul down and open up his loop a little to minimise tangling, then count the flies down to depth until the floating FAB on the point disappeared from view.

It only took a few casts until he was into his first fish. The lovely rainbow of a few pounds put up a great scrap and George got some practise at the art of netting a fish for yourself.

George's first fish fell to a blob on an intermediate line.

I started off fishing a red blob on a floater. A long cast to the opposite bank saw the blob plop just a foot from the edge where I could see fish moving. After a few small plucks on the first cast, the blob was finally taken with gusto as I started to twiddle it back with a faster figure eight retrieve.

The first fish in the net for me was followed by another just a few minutes later, much to George's disappointment. By late morning things had quietened down and the pulling of lures or twiddling of blobs, FABs and nymphs didn't seem to be working for either of us, so Paul got George set up with a floating line to teach him another new method involving multiple flies.

This time he was using a large buoyant deer hair sedgehog like pattern, which was ginked-up to add a bit of extra buoyancy and tied to the top dropper, while a diawl bach was on the top dropper and one of Paul's sparkling Corixa patterns was attached to the point.

Another cracking trout falls to George's fly.

A few minutes after getting started on this method, the dry dropper bobbed under as a fish took one of the nymphs beneath but it didn't stay attached for long. The same thing happened several times, but the fish were rejecting the nymphs long before George could strike.

After half an hour of twiddling, it was looking like this method wasn't going to prove so successful, and with the trout uncooperative in the bright sunshine, but the rudd clearly visible, George tied on a tiny parachute Adams and had a crack at those instead.

tt This blue trout was fooled by George's squirmy wormy.

After lunch it had become much hotter and sunnier and the fishing was getting tougher by the minute, so we went back to the top pool, where the water was cooler and deeper and tried fishing a squirmy wormy beneath an indicator.

While I couldn't get a bite using this method, it proved deadly for George. Two hook ups, which came off, were followed by a lovely blue trout which had taken the squirmy wormy as it was sitting static beneath the indicator and fished along the margins at the far left of the pool.

Not another one...

Watching his method, George was casting out the fly and letting the wind put a bow in the line so it was moved naturally by the current, much like you'd do if you are fishing buzzers. The first fish was followed by two others in the space of about twenty minutes, so George was growing rather confident - now holding a 4:2 lead.

But, despite my best efforts I really struggled to catch up, while George was finding it rather easy, hooking up three times in the last half hour.

He'd really given me a good thrashing in retaliation for the previous week's defeat! We'd had a great day and he went home much more confident at fishing teams of flies and managed to only get one tangle throughout the whole day, which is better than me.

"Hey Dad! I'm beating you 4:2."

Saturday 23rd July, 2016

A somewhat longer journey for our fly fishing fix this weekend, with George, Sarah and I traveling over 200 miles up to the beautiful Thrunton Long Crag Trout Fishery in rural Northumberland for the Trout Fisherman magazine's Junior Troutmasters Finals.

A very excited George was representing our local water, the nationally renowned and award winning Ellerdine Lakes in Shropshire, after the Ellerdine fish off winner, Jack Forrester, dropped out and offered his place to George who'd finished second.

About 25 of the UK's top junior fly fishers were fishing, ranging in age from the very young, including Hannah at just 7 and George at 8, to a more sizeable contingent of 12-16 year olds almost double their age.

It was our first visit to Thrunton Long Crag Fishery and we were really impressed. It's set in the stunning Northumberland countryside on the site of an old brickworks quarry with two spring-fed lakes, Long Crag and the newer and smaller Coe Crag, where the competition was taking place. The grounds and lodge were beautiful and clean and the staff couldn't have been any friendlier, which Sarah (who comes from Geordie stock) tells me is a common trait of the local inhabitants.

Thrunton's run by Chris and Jill Blythe, assisted by Stevie McCann, and they had a number of regular fly fishers and GAIA members assisting with the stewarding for the competition. We had a chat with Stevie, who is also the fishery's resident angling coach, while we were waiting for George's heat to start, and he told us all about their thriving juniors club, making us wish we lived a lot closer!

The Junior Troutmasters Final takes place over a whole weekend, with the fly fishers split into three heats of 8-10 anglers who fish against each other, with the top four in each heat going through to the grand final on the Sunday afternoon.

The young anglers draw a peg number from a bag, then fish that spot for about 20 minutes before rotating one peg when a whistle sounds. There's no walking time, so it helps if you can move from peg to peg quickly and stealthily (and, in the case of George, have big enough hands to manage all your kit without dropping bits en route).

As it's a competition designed to test the entrants' fly fishing skills, not their parents', mums and dads (and grandparents) had to stay a long way back from their children behind a rope barrier.

For many of them, George included, it was the first time they'd fished completely unaided as it's not usually safe to do so and most fisheries insist you stay next to your child. So this, as well as the three hour duration of the match, was going to be a challenge for the concentration spans of the younger fly fishers.

George gets ready to set off for his heat.

Thrunton had placed stewards around the lake who were on hand to ensure the safety and welfare of the anglers and their catches (as this was a catch and release match). While they weren't allowed to help with tactics, tips, casting or netting, they could assist with returning fish and with tangles.

None of us had fished Thrunton before and we couldn't get near the lake to find out what the conditions were like, so George was on his own tactics wise.

He hedged his bets and packed two outfits: his trusty Wychwood Truefly SLA with a 4# floating line, and his faster new Echo Distance Competition rod with an 5# intermediate line. I'd also lent him my Orvis Sling Pack to put his tackle in for luck (plus some flies tied specially for the finalists by England International Ian Barr and Thrunton regular Andy Richmond) and he set off down to lakeside looking very small and laden down!

The weather was overcast, but the sun did come out which put the fish down.

George's plan was to try pulling lures on the intermediate and, if that failed, switch to the floating line with either dries or a buzzer, nymph, blob or squirmy wormy under an indicator.

He'd drawn a peg on the opposite side of the lake from us so it was difficult to see exactly what he was doing but we both watched in dismay as he started to fish while still wearing the Sling Pack, which while nice and compact on me was absolutely massive on little George and seriously impeded his arm movements!

This resulted in some very comical casting while we both silently willed him to take it off! Having finally realised what was up and dumping the sling, he got properly started and it looked like he was favouring the intermediate line, which he'd rigged up with a 12 foot leader of six pound copolymer and his trusty Red Rascal fly. This appeared to work as he lost a fish on his first cast!

Towards the end of his time on the first peg he hooked into his first trout. Sarah and I watched nervously though our fingers, willing the trout to stay attached, while George brought the fish quickly to the net and then safely released it.

Picture copyright © Thrunton Fishery.

The next peg proved a tougher one for George, with the wind on his wrong shoulder clearly making casting a bit of a challenge. After a few casts with what appeared to be the squirmy wormy under the bung, as well as a sit down on the bench provided, George switched back to the intermediate and put out a longer line.

The change back to pulling seemed to do the trick as we watched him strike and miss fish several times, while nearby anglers hooked up repeatedly using similar methods. Eventually, he hooked his second fish and we had to look away as he fought it.

Thankfully, number two was also landed without drama and he now had a brace of trout. However, two of the anglers were doing very well indeed, so we didn't think the two fish would be enough to secure him a place in the finals. Time for a coffee to steady the nerves.

We'd seen one boy catch four fish in a row on the peg near George, but another, James, was absolutely on fire, catching five fish one after the other, in an incredible display of skill and to the awe of the watching group of parents and relatives.

James was onto a winning method. He was (we found afterwards) fishing a Blue Flash Damsel on a floating line and then pulling it back at high speed as soon as it hit the surface. In many cases, the trout were taking the fly as soon as it hit the water surface. It looked like he'd reached a shoal of fish that were out of casting range of the smaller fly fishers, and he was racking up the numbers nicely.

George fights trout number two. Picture copyright © Thrunton Fishery.

After a good first hour, the fishing became very tough as the sun came out and the wind dropped, to leave a near flat calm and some very nervous trout. Young James was still catching well, ending the match in the hot corner of the lake where most of the fish had been showing, and with George on the far side where nothing had been caught.

As the anglers were spread around the lake, it was difficult to tell who had caught what. We knew James had absolutely smashed it with 15 fish, and we'd watched another catch five, but we didn't know whether George's brace would be enough to get him into the final. We suspected it wouldn't.

The juniors from George's heat included a mixture of ages.

Heat over, we were reunited with an exhausted but elated George, who amazingly still had all his kit with him and hadn't covered it in mud like normal!. We told him he probably hadn't got through and, although a little disappointed, he took it on the chin.

Trout Fisherman editor Russell Hill congratulated all the anglers and then announced the four who'd gone through, explaining that one of the juniors, James, had not only caught an incredible 15 fish, but had also smashed the record for the highest number of fish ever caught in a heat. Truly amazing!

He said that the battle for fourth place was also the closest it had ever been. Two fly fishers had both had the same number of fish. If this happens the rules state that they take the time at which the first angler caught and that angler goes through to the final. However, in this case, the two anglers had both caught at the exact same minute!

We were all utterly amazed when he read out George's name as the lucky one who'd gone through. We were really pleased for George, but also felt really bad for young Toby, the other angler, who had been pipped at the post.

George picks up his certificate from Russell and Samantha from Trout Fisherman magazine.

George had suffered a similar fate during the Junior Bank Masters Heat so knew how poor Toby must be feeling so we went over to commiserate with Toby and his dad so George could shake hands and apologise for knocking him out of the running, Toby had taken it very well.

We hung around for a bit after lunch as George wanted to watch the next group of anglers, mainly 12-14 years olds, but after the stress of the morning his concentration soon started to wander and we headed back to our hotel so he could chill out ready for the grand final tomorrow.

Totally shattered, he nearly fell asleep in his tea and was tucked up in bed by 6.30pm!

The four through to the final from George's heat.

Sunday 24th July, 2016

We arrived back at Thrunton mid morning with a very excited George: his hero, James Stokoe winner of BBC2's The Big Fish (George's all time favourite TV programme) was going to be at the final, offering support and advice to the junior fly fishers.

And George was on a mission to get his photo and autograph! He'd already seen Jo Stephenson, one of the other finalists from the TV show, at the BFFI Fly Fair in March, but had been too star struck to talk to her, so he wasn't going to let this opportunity get away!

In the lodge, steadying our nerves ready for the day ahead with coffee, we learned that there had been some drama in our absence. The fishing had got much, much harder the previous afternoon and the second heat was so tough that only one angler caught a fish.

The final was wet and windy, but this didn't put the fish on the feed.

Given that the heat included 12-14 year old fly fishers, including some of the very best and most experienced in the country, this was a really tough result.

It meant that only one of the juniors in the heat went through to the final, and the spaces remaining were to be occupied by the next highest entrants from the other heats - brilliant news for Toby, who'd got his place in the final, and for 9 year old Jasmine who'd become the first girl to reach the grand final.

Picture copyright © Fly and Lure.

The warm weather had put the fish off the feed and they'd become wary and were now largely ignoring damsels, blobs and other flies being pulled past them at speed and it was becoming increasingly difficult to winkle them out.

The fishing had become so tough, Russell Hill announced to the Grand finalists before they took to their pegs to start the final stage of the competition, that it meant that the Junior Troutmaster title could be won by just one or two fish!

The juniors line up to draw their starting peg number.

As they set off to the waterside it was difficult to tell who was more tense and nervous - the parents or the juniors. I suspect it was the latter, but there probably wasn't much in it and Sarah had to retreat to the lodge to stock up on more coffee!

The final had a much faster pace than the earlier qualifying heats. To let the juniors fish the entire perimeter of the lake, they'd be fishing just 12 minutes per peg before rotating and the stewards seemed to be offering less assistance than the previous day to even things up a bit.

George tries hard to focus by watching us instead of his fly.

With so little time per peg, and the likelihood that the fish might only be showing in part of the lake, like the previous day, every second was going to count. Unfortunately, little fly fishers struggle with tangles as well as their attention spans and for fifteen agonising minutes spanning almost two entire pegs, George didn't fish at all due to tangles on both rods.

The final proved exceptionally tough and there were very few fish caught, and over half of the entrants, including George, failed to catch at all - despite a few missed opportunities. That said, they all fished exceptionally well in really tricky conditions and, like yesterday, there were some very impressive fishing skills on display. Even the grown ups fishing on Thrunton's other lake had only caught a fish or so during the entire day, so the results weren't really surprising.

I'll leave it for Trout Fisherman to announce the winners, but it was obvious from the juniors (and parents) attending that they'd all had a brilliant time. And to top it off, they got to meet their fishing idol James Stokoe, from BBC's excellent series The Big Fish, who was really friendly and encouraging to them all.

The finalists with James Stokoe of The Big Fish fame.

James spent the whole day at Thrunton chatting to the juniors and the mums and dads, chewing the fat about fishing, his adventures catching fish around the world and encouraging the juniors to stick at the sport. He was a great ambassador and role model to the juniors and a really friendly chap, too! (Further demonstrating that Geordie theory of Sarah's.)

James Stokoe from The Big Fish with George and I.

While the results were being counted he took all the juniors down to the lake to show them how he'd have approached the water - and show off his excellent casting skills. The fact that he too didn't catch anything perhaps demonstrates quite how well the youngsters did to hook up in the final!

It was a superb weekend and George went away with some new friends and eager to try again for next year. He's already got his entry to Ellerdine's qualifiers, so he's crossing his fingers that he's as lucky in the 2016/2017 season. Plus, he got his photo with James Stokoe (although not his autograph as we had to rush away to drive back down South ready for school on Monday!)

James explained to the entrants how he'd have fished.

Saturday 30th July, 2016

Another weekend away, this time to help the British Fly Casting Club (BFCC) run the distance casting competitions at The Game Fair, at Ragley Hall, near Alcester in Warwickshire.

We first met Tracy and James from the BFCC at the Corwen and District Angling Club Open Day in Corwen last March. Having joined the club, (it's a very reasonable £20 a year for adults and free for juniors)  Matt and George attended a very enjoyable event in Oswestry in June where they received some excellent tuition from the club's many highly qualified instructors and George was bitten by the distance casting bug!

So when Tracy said they had been invited to run the distance casting competitions at the Game Fair and were looking for club members to help, we jumped at the chance.

After a ridiculously early 5am start, a race against time down the M6 to get to the grounds before the exhibitor's entrance was locked for the day at 7.30am, then a 20 minute off road drive around the massive show ground (thankfully we were in a Land Rover!) we finally arrived at the Fishing Village, where we would be based for the next two days.

The British Fly Casting stand was situated here along with a "Get Hooked on Fishing" Family fishing event with the Angling Trust. With GAIA instructors offering short tuition sessions, Spey casting demonstrations and competitions, Hywel Morgan and family, spey casting champion Scott Mackenzie, and a free fishing area along with a range of other demonstrations and retail stalls. as well as the distance casting competitions run by the BFCC, it looked like being any angler's dream weekend! Plus. much to George's delight, none other than James Stokoe was the official Fishing Ambassador for the show.

The Family Fishing area seemed popular with the youngsters all weekend.

The BFCC competitions were running for all three days of the show, with some great daily prizes for the best caster in each class and then a grand final on Sunday.

Two styles of rod were being used - a #7 and an ST27. While the #7 is typical of the larger rods used on big reservoirs, the ST27 is a little different. It's a 27g shooting head outfit, which uses a special 27g head section of fly line and a thin monofilament running line.

The trick to casting this outfit, we learned, was to have a metre or so of running line outside the tip (known as overhang) so your double haul didn't pull the head back into the rod tip, and to take time to ensure you didn't get your running line tangled or step on it.

Club member Andy Bagshaw shared an innovative technique for line management, by not only looping the running line out on the ground before casting, but also by casting barefoot so he could feel when he'd stepped on the running line - something pretty much every other caster did at some point.

Andrew Bagshaw casting barefoot, while AtomSix's Steve Parkes times. Picture copyright © Diane Brown, British Fly Casting Club.

The ST27 class was open to everyone, but the #7 class was split up into men, women and juniors (under 18s.) Casters had three minutes with the #7 to make their longest cast, or four minutes with the ST27 (due to the extra time required for managing the line).

We were helping with taking down entrants details and judging and recording the distances cast, but Matt and George were also aiming to have a go too, with George hoping to put into practice some of the skills coach Paul Ainsworth had taught him at the CADAC junior days.

Picture copyright © Diane Brown, British Fly Casting Club.

The casting competition platform was also being used for some of the angling demonstrations meaning we also got the opportunity to watch Welsh fishing legend Hywel Morgan and his two daughters, newly 18 year old Yasmin and 11 year old Tanya give their impressive fly fishing for the family show (and meet their lovely dalmatian Monty.)

The casting competitions proved very popular and there were some very impressive casting skills on show on the Saturday, especially among the junior anglers. There were also some very impressive prizes - the junior event had been sponsored by Field Sports magazine who had donated a days fishing with them at Elinor fishery in Northamptonshire.

This was won by 17 year old Toby Bennett with an amazing cast of 31m! George managed 19m and, as the youngest junior competing (and also nearly half the age of the other competitors!) was awarded a special prize - a days guided fishing with instructor Kim Tribe in Wales and a Barrio fly line and fly box, very generously donated by Men's 7# winner Jonathan Tomlinson (who cast an amazing 36m and also won the ST27 competition with a staggering cast of 40m!)

James Stokoe presenting George with his prizes and Kim Tribe who gave him a day of guided fly fishing in Wales.

George also finally managed to get James Stokoe's autograph and Henry went one better helping Matt to judge James's casting distance during the competition!

James Stokoe hit an extremely impressive 33m in the 7# competition. Picture copyright © Diane Brown, British Fly Casting Club.

Hywel's wife, Debbie Morgan won the Women's 7# and also very kindly donated her prize, a Barrio Fly line and fly box, to be used for the Sunday junior competition.

The prize winners from Saturday's distance fly casting competition.

The competition over for the day and spurred on by George's success (and possibly a hint of sibling rivalry) Henry decided to hone his casting skills under the the guidance of first Matt and then BFCC club member Craig Brown, who Henry said later was much better than his dad and gave him some excellent tips about popping balloons and flicking marshmallows off the end of his rod! Plus helped him to increase his casting distance to 15m which gave him the confidence to enter the competition on the Sunday morning!

Henry managed to hit the 15m mark with some tuition from Dad and member Craig Brown.

Sunday 31st July, 2016

Due to the popularity of the casting competition and the programme of demonstrations also scheduled for the casting platform during the morning, things got off to an early start today. Again there were some seriously good prizes on offer, including for the juniors Steve Parkes' amazing AtomSix 7# fly rod, used during the competition.

Many of the club members (including Henry!) had been practicing late into the night and everyone seemed in a more competitive mood, including George, who, spurred on by his success the day before was now looking to set a new personal best!

Henry was up first and managed a very respectable 12.5m as he's only been fishing since March, although he was keen to point out he had been casting further the night before. George's first attempt was 21m and, competitive spirit kicking in, he went straight back down to the water for attempt number two where he achieved a brilliant 22m.

George hit 22m on his second attempt - not bad for an eight year old. Picture copyright © Diane Brown, British Fly Casting Club.

Unfortunately for George it wasn't quite far enough and the places in the Sunday afternoon final went to yesterday's winner Toby, his friend Redmond and Hywel's youngest daughter Tanya, aged 11, with a great cast of 25m.

There was also some seriously impressive casting going on in the adult competition which proved so popular we actually ran out of time! Matt managed to improve his distance on yesterday's attempts and like George set a new personal best which didn't look out of place on the score board.

The results from Sunday morning. Picture copyright © Diane Brown, British Fly Casting Club.

After a very close competition James Evans, Steve Parkes and Jon Tomlinson all qualified for both the Men 7# and the ST27. And Tracy Thomas, Yasmin Morgan and Tanya Morgan all went though to the Women's 7# final.

Tracy won the women's final. Picture copyright © Diane Brown, British Fly Casting Club.

Heats over we had an hour until the final started. I had been planning to see if there was a GAIA instructor free to give me a bit of tuition, but Lil, who was apparently all fished out despite spending most of the weekend sitting under the marquee reading a book, insisted that after a quick lunch we took our spaniel to watch the gun dogs in action over on the other side of the lake.

Back at the marquee, jobs were given out for the final as many of the club members who had been helping in the morning were now in the competition themselves.

Measuring where the fluff lands is a serious business. Picture copyright © Diane Brown, British Fly Casting Club.

First up was the Mens 7# competition, featuring Steve Parkes, yesterday's winner Jon Tomlinson and James Evans, who are all amazing casters. They all gave an impressive performance but by the time James came to cast the wind had died down to a flat calm stopping his leader turning over and decreasing his overall distance.

He still cast an impressive 34m though, but short of the 37.5 m he'd cast in the morning competition to qualify for the final. Both Jon and Steve cast a staggering 38m, leading a sudden death fish-off where Steve outcast Jon by only 1m to win the competition!

Poor James Evans suffered from terrible luck with the wind (not in that way) in the final, but did win the ST27 event. Picture copyright © Diane Brown, British Fly Casting Club.

Next up was the ST27 final, again featuring James, Steve and Jonathan. There was more amazing casting but it was Steve's turn to be unlucky, suffering a tangle in his running line and the winners order was reversed with James taking the title, Jonathan second again and Steve in third place.

Members Craig Brown and Phillip Bailey helped out with the official ajudicating. Picture copyright © Diane Brown, British Fly Casting Club.

The Women's 7# final featured the BFFC's Tracy Thomas and both Morgan sisters. Tanya, only 11, put in a great performance with an impressive 22m. Tracy's spectacular casting put her in first place, winning a fabulous Alan Riddell rod, with Yasmin coming a very close second.

Finally it was the turn of the juniors, with Tanya Morgan putting in another strong performance especially considering she was so much younger than the other two finalists. Toby Bennett repeated his success of the day before with some seriously impressive casting and scooped the big prize of Steve Parkes' AtomSix fly rod, which he looked absolutely thrilled with.

Scott Mackenzie made winning the spey casting final look easy. Picture copyright © Diane Brown, British Fly Casting Club.

Final over, we quickly nipped to the platform next door to watch Scott Mackenzie come out of retirement to win the spey casting competition and an amazing £1000 prize.

Back at the marquee, Tracy very kindly presented Henry with a very smart fly box for his efforts assisting the judges, which really made his day. He's filled it with flies he has specially selected (stolen!) from Matt's collection at home as well as the ones in the FieldSports Magazine bags given out during the event and will be taking it with him on his next fishing trip.

Henry helped with the judging. Picture copyright © Diane Brown, British Fly Casting Club.

All in all we had a great weekend. The club members were exceptionally welcoming and they really lived up to their name as the "friendly home of good casting". If you want to improve your casting skills we highly recommend trying out one of their many events round the country.

Many thanks to Diane for the wonderful photos.

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