Fishing Rod Decoration

Welcome to stickwithoutbrains

This phrase was coined by Norman McLean in his novella A River Runs Through It. As he knew, to catch fish with a fly you need to cast it in the right place but it is not the rod that does that, it is the person using it.


Graham Waterton can accompany you on a fully guided day to help ensure you get the best out of your day. 
"My son and grandson have just returned from a marvellous day with you on the water. They are both ecstatic. If the nation has not got a fisherman for life, following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather, then nothing else could give rise to one. Thank you so much. They thought you were terrific and you are clearly a brilliant teacher"
"Where do I begin. Your enthusiasm for such an amazing sport is infectious. As a tutor, I could have listened to you all day. You were so patient, full of encouragement and explained everything so succinctly. Your knowledge is incredible. I am completely spellbound.  So much to learn, but how exciting.
Thank you Graham for such a magical day, you have opened my eyes."
"Many thanks for a really enjoyable and useful day and the three photos. It was great to get some very good teaching and fantastic to catch three fish. Your enthusiasm is infectious and has got me fired up towards fishing again."
"What a sensational day?! It was truly one I'll remember my entire life. You're a magnificent guide with an incredible bed-side manner and it's what made the difference."


" Thank you so much for looking after us so well yesterday. We had a memorable and fun day and went home so excited about chalkstream fishing. It was so unlike other fishing I had done and I loved the stalking element"

"Graham, many thanks for that and also for chaperoning me so well the past couple of days. Top Rod only down to your expert guidance! - Hopefully though I've actually learnt something this time!"


" Thank you most kindly for your company and advice today. It was a delightfully relaxing day out with some delightful moments of success"


     Other Links:

     Eat, Sleep, Fish

     The Sporting Driver


     Tacky Fly Fishing

     Fulling Mill

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Casting Tuition and Trip Preparation

On this site find out how Graham Waterton can teach the novice to cast and help the more experienced fly fisherman cast more effectively and learn new techniques. He can prepare you for your next trip, home or abroad by ensuring you have the most up to date techniques and the most appropriate tackle.

"We saw very few GTs and I was lucky enough to catch the only big one of the entire season - 108 cms ... my casting was miles better thanks to your tuition, I really am starting to understand what is going on with a rod and correcting mistakes ... my arm still hurts!  I look forward to our next session"

"It's still about catching fish, that remains the end but now you can find extra pleasure in the means"


By Graham Waterton

November 2017 - Low Water, Clear Water, Cold Water.

Tuesday 17th October 2017 - By Graham Waterton


Another trout season ends, by far the busiest of my 5 years as a full time casting instructor and guide. Many suggested that guiding eventually blunts not only ones enjoyment of teaching but also ones own love of flyfishing.




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Not so for me. Perhaps having fished for over 40 years I have a different perspective to my current job than younger guides. I still get huge pleasure from introducing people to flyfishing and I'm as excited as they, when their first fish is caught. 




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As for my own fishing? I have fished the chalkstreams since the late 1970s and learnt from some great fisherman but many hundreds of days teaching, guiding and being with some of the best chalkstream guides and fisherman in the country have refined my skills even further over the last 5 years. It's corny I know but you never stop learning. It's also a great priviledge to guide on some of the best and often private, chalkstream beats in the country. Personally, I now relish the hardest fishing I can find from wild brown trout on the rare stretches of unstocked chalktsreams to the highly technical salmon fishing we found in Iceland this year. More of that later. 

 For another season we've been burdened with low flows as a result of a second winter of low rainfall. I descibe low flows rather than low levels as the latter can to a degree be artificially raised and lowered. The obvious way is by cutting or more pertinently this season, not cutting the instream weed. The low flow rates are relevant as they tend not only to inhibit vigorous weed growth, notably of our most desirable weed, Water Crowfoot, aka Ranunculous, but also to allow other less desirable weeds to establish and flourish. Although the water level can be high, if the flow is low, silt soon settles, unwanted water plants grow and eventually the dreaded blanket weeds dominates the scene by covering the gravel, choking other weeds and reducing fishable space.

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                                                       The weed cutters art - so critical in low flow years


Another isue in low flow years is the use of hatches. These man made sluice gates, originally for flooding and draining the water meadows, have on many stretches been removed to encourage flow in a world of water abstraction. Many remain though and are generally, under the control of landowners or tenants.  Much of the River Test, for example, has multiple channels or braids, again a throwback to the water meadow management of the past, now nearly all made fishable to satisfy increasing demand to fish the chalkstreams. Those in control of the hatches have tricky choices. In low flow years do they tinker with hatches to keep high healthy flow in one or two braids and less in others or just keep enough in all to enable beats to stay open?  I'm sure you can see the problems, exacerbated when upstream owners have control of hatches but a different agenda to their downstream neighbours. Neighbourly relations between owners, managers and river keepers are tested at times like these.



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                                                                     Low flows allow silt and blanket weed to proliferate


The banter about fly life continues. Let's be clear ... there are less invertebrates in our chalkstreams and watemeadows than in the past and of course we would like more which our conservation bodies, fishery managers and river keepers work hard to achieve. Good fishing however, even in times of reduced flylife is as possible now, as ever was. It just requires more application, improved skills and for many, the hardest to achieve, more time on the water, particularly late in the day.


So in a season with low flows, less insect producing weed and reduced fly life fishing can be tough. Right up my street and it's a pleasure to share those skills with others.


This time last year we mourned Bruce Sandison and this year the world of Atlantic salmon conservation lost its greatest champion. Orri Vigfusson pioneered green capitalism into the world of preserving the fish which he loved so passionately. Born into an Icelandic herring fishing family and having acquired business skills which included selling vodka to the Russians he compensated commercial salmon fisherman often providing and encouraging the fishing families alternative non salmon fishing occupations. Successful deals were brokered in The Faroes, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, Greenland and England. The organisation he founded, The North Atlantic Salmon Fund flourishes but will miss his energy, passion, fund raising and dealmaking abilities.


All salmon fisherman worth their salt know that the relationship between air and water temperature is important to salmon taking a fly or not. Why that is however, is not fully understood but in Iceland this year I experienced at first hand the subtleties of those temperature differences.

The glacier and snow melt fed Midfjardara was low, crystal clear and cold ... about 4/5 degrees.

In early September we're used to wintry weather but it was unseasonably cold and dry with a chilly wind swinging from the Iceland icecap one minute and from Greenland the next. A few fish were caught in each morning session but it became obvious that as the air temperature crept from 2/3 degrees to 6/7 degrees overtaking the water temperature, by early afternoon the fish turned on dramatically. Even short periods when the wind dropped and the chill disappeared, fish became active. The next challenge was fishing at the right depth. Normally in cold water we need to get the fly down closer to the fish but in clear skinny water we need small flies ... like 16 trebles ... an interesting conundrum and one where the micro tungsten cone head fished upstream was very effective. Single handed rod, long leader and watching the tip of your flyline dip into a chalkstream is exciting so imagine the same on a stunning Icelandic river when it's a 15 pound salmon rather than 2 pound trout taking your dead drifted fly. Thrilling stuff. But just when you think you understand what's going on a salmon rises out of cold water and takes a micro hitch skating across the neck of the pool. As I said, technical and great to occasionally work it out.


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                                                                 An Iceland salmon on an upstream'nymph'.


While I wait for the pike fishing to really get underway, it's grayling in low weedy rivers ... I'm looking forward to working that out all over again.