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So following on from last time the fly fishing competition loomed ever closer. I had, at this point, only had four hours practice and what the hell I was thinking of to accept a challenge like this I really do not know. Obviously I am a seasoned competition fisherman and I kept telling myself a competition is a competition. No problem! My mind was struggling to remember my first surfcasting competition in Spain, the English newbie alongside all the local experts. That was a terrifying experience but I got through it and even enjoyed it. The problem here was lack of experience. I rang Peter Hampshire, my coach, he suggested we go and have a practice at Hondon Trucha on the Tuesday morning the day before the competition. Phew! That eased my mind a little and with Peter's confident attitude that all would be fine and I had nothing to worry about.

I met Peter on Tuesday morning and we ventured up to Hondon Trucha. What a wonderful venue for fisherman, experienced or beginners. Jan Keijsers the owner welcomed us with coffee in the cafeteria and showed us the water. It is teaming with trout. The only problem I could foresee was actually catching them! After fishing the sea and reservoirs here it was fantastic to see fish swimming around and be able, hopefully, to target fish. The skill of this form of fishing was now becoming evident.
I set up my new Viper nine foot six two piece rod coupled with a Mercury reel. I had loaded one of the three spools supplied with backing and seventy five yards of weight forward seven floating line connected via a leader loop to a knotless gradual taper twelve foot leader. The breaking strain of the leader was ten pounds at the butt and three pounds at the point. This may all sound daunting but in layman's terms the backing is just to fill the reel spool, which is then attached to the actual fly line. I used a blood knot but that is down to personal choice. The leader loop is attached using a needle supplied with the loop kit which is pushed down the braid and the braid is gathered onto the needle allowing it to expand the inner. Remove the needle slowly and feed the fly line down the hollow braid. Pull the plastic sleeve over the joint and pull tight. Add a spot of superglue to hold the sleeve if you wish, the more pull on the braid the tighter the braid grips the line. Simple, well not really, but in the future I will feature this and other hopefully useful items of information for the beginner. The braided leader loop has a loop at the end……no surprise there then! Your leader then attaches to this loop, I shortened my monofilament leader to around six feet. Fold approximately three to four inches of the line back on itself to form a tight loop. Tie a simple overhand knot at the loop end to leave a loop of about half an inch and pull tight. Clip off the loose end. Pass the loop of the braided leader through the loop in the line. Thread the free end of the line through the hole in the leader loop and pull tight. Then choose your fly and attach to the leader point with a half blood knot. I chose a dry fly that would float together with my floating line and cast out, drawing the line back through my fingers, making the fly imitate a real insect on the still waters. I soon got back into the rhythm again and really enjoyed the next two hours especially when I caught. It was a new experience retrieving the fish with the line rather than using the reel. Peter on the other hand had caught several fish and watching him in action was like poetry in motion. So practice over, me happy, Peter happy, and look forward to Wednesday.

Seven competitors gathered for the inaugural Hondon Trucha Fly Fishing Competition on the 4th January. Well six and me! I did not have nerves only a sense of overwhelming doom, looking around all these men were obviously very experienced fly men, flies stuck in their caps and waistcoats, tackled up to the hilt…….I was out of my depth. The competition took place between one and five on what was a very pleasant afternoon at this fantastic location. I drew a peg near the boat platform, this is where the fish gather for cover, perfect spot I thought……. Wrong! Jan came and weighed the fish every hour and released them back to the water. To cut a long story short Peter Hampshire won with seven and a half kilos of trout, and here it comes, I lost three off the hook on retrieval due to my lack of knowledge, and landed none….. Good start then. When the whistle blew at five o'clock Jan said I could continue and practice. He obviously had been watching and thought I needed it. In ten minutes I landed three trout, which made it all worthwhile, I will be back on the 4th February for the next competition that is for sure.
This is one area of fishing that could become addictive. It is action all the time, choosing your line, sinking or floating, which fly to use, targeting a certain fish, it is a great skill to learn. A big thank you to Jan and Marguerite for their hospitality. If you wish to visit the artificial lake at Hondon Trucha ring Jan on 965480225 / 636314033. A big thank you and congratulations to Peter Hampshire for his time and patience.
Peter is available for tuition for anyone interested in learning fly fishing. He will provide tackle and use the facility at Hondon Trucha. Contact me by e-mail garysmith@roundtownnews.com or phone 968163529 to book a lesson or course.

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