A Cornucopia of Fishes

Here are some of my catches on fixed line fly. Either for the company kept, the places they were caught and the method of their taking – or just for their sheer splendidness, they remain my favourites.

Quotations are from ‘The Compleat Angler’ – Izaak Walton & Charles Cotton 1676 edition.



“The Trout is a fish highly valued both in this and forraign Nations.. he is a fish that feeds cleanly and purely, in the swiftest streams, and on the hardest gravel!”

A lovely wild brown, taken on a dry fly beneath a sycamore tree, on the Derbyshire Wye.



“some ponds are stored with these beyond belief; and knowing-men that know their difference, call them Ruds”

Glowing like the gold of the Celts, Somerset rudd must be amongst the most beautiful of them all. This lovely summer fish was caught with a little bead headed swept hackle fly, taken on the drop.



“the tench is the physician of fishes.. this fish that carries a natural Balsome in him to cure both himself and others”..

Few fish are harder to catch with a fly, or will fight as doggedly. A fine Buckinghamshire clay pit tench taken with a drifting shrimp pattern.



“it is likely the Chubs will sink down towards the bottom of the water at the first shadow of your Rod ( for a Chub is the fear-fullest of fishes,) ..”

This fine opening day River Lea chub was tempted by a traditional Black Pennel wet fly, drifted through the weir pool.



“they value the Umber or Grayling so highly, that they say he feeds on Gold.. his swift swimming or gliding out of sight, more like a shadow or a Ghost than a fish.”

Can there be a more mysterious fish? This grayling took a small white dry fly on the River Derwent. I can think of no finer way to catch Grayling or a finer place to do it.



“Pikes will bite when they are not hungry, but as some think even for very anger, when a tempting bait comes near to them.”

There is nothing quite so heart stopping in fly fishing, I think, as the moment the pike strikes your fly. I cast to perhaps ten different Somerset pike one morning, before this fish finally followed and took.



“Roaches be accounted much better in the River than in a pond, though ponds usually breed the biggest.. They will bite at almost any fly, but especially at Antflies..”

Be they small or large, finessing roach from the evening rise is a most congenial pursuit. A sometimes subtle taker beneath the surface, the bigger fish can be a rewarding challenge on a wet fly.


DWBtt perch