I have never liked Christmas. Even as a kid I found the whole thing a waste of time and once I had discovered fishing this time of the year became unbearable. No fishing to be had, terrible weather and still the seemingly never-ending month of January to suffer until the new season opens.
With nothing better to do I console myself with carrying out all the little jobs of repair and replace in my tackle boxes and fly wallets. Rusty hooks are discarded and replaced with nice, sharp ones. I review the serried ranks of trout and salmon flies like some sort of piscatorial Sergent-Major, weeding out those which are sub-standard. A chewed hackle or broken ribbing are sufficient reason for the axe to fall and the gaps created are an incentive for me to spend more time at the vice.
I didn’t manage to fish very much last season, so most of the fly boxes require only a cursory top-up. The exception this Christmas is the box of spiders which looked a bit forlorn last week. A couple of tying sessions has put that right though and along side the usual suspects there are a few of my new patterns to try out next Spring.
Spinning tackle, by the very nature of the technique, takes a hammering and so I go through the lures and replace rusty split rings, dodgy swivels and bend hooks. While others are immersed in ho, ho, ho-ing and other such nonsense I am beavering away with pliers and WD-40. About 20 Devon mounts had to be discarded and new ones made up this week, using those wonderful Owner treble hooks.
Next job for me is the shore fishing gear. I was horribly disorganised last summer and my box seemed to be full to overflowing but it contained practically nothing that I really needed. On one trip I could only find 2 four ounce weights at the bottom of the box. On another occasion I ‘lost’ both spools of elastic (only to find them the next day). I not only need to organise the box better but I need to drastically reduce the amount of gear I bring with me. Wish me luck!
What a name! ‘The Killdevil Spider’. It’s like something out of a 1950’s ‘B’movie. In practice it is a confusing little pattern which some anglers swear by and other rate as highly as Jeremy Clarkson’s diplomacy skills. Personally I think this is one which is misunderstood (the fly, not Clarkson) and you should make a couple up to try out.
A simple wet fly with not too many difficulties in the construction, the only real issue is getting the proportions of the body right. I favour one third silver at the rear and two thirds peacock herl at the front. The silver part should be made of oval tinsel wound in touching turns. Hackle and tails are fairly long fibred furnace cock hackle. Hook sizes are 10 down to 16. I say that this fly is misunderstood because there is another version which calls for a golden olive cock hackle instead of the furnace. I have not tried that pattern out but it looks as if that might be a good one for sea trout. I have also heard of some fishermen using a Killdevil with a teal blue hackle. I have more than enough blue hackled flies in my box already so I won’t add further complication to my life, but it would make a very pretty fly.
The way this fly is fished is also something to be aware of. For me it needs to be fished deep. I can’t recall taking a trout on it unless it was near the bottom. Like the Peter Ross, I fish it with a series of small pulls and jerks. I have never tried the Killdevil for Rainbow trout but it might be worth a try. Let me know if any of you have success with this one.