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

Midsummer Pause

Tuesday 18th June 2019 - By Graham Waterton

At last, it's the June weedcut on the Test and it's tributaries. It signals the end of another frantic mayfly season and a few days to sort out tackle, particularly some very disorganised fly boxes.



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It was a strange mayfly. At best, average but for some it was very poor. It started predictably enough with sparse afternoon hatches on the lower beats at the beginning of the second May week. Normally these would develop in intensity and then spread up to the top of the system by the end of the third week as the water temperature creeps up. This season, the lower beats never seemed to get going and it was a rare day when the fish were feeding with abandon during a strong dun hatch. As the hatch went upstream they improved but sparse hatches were the norm with fish never really getting going. Now, those experienced mayfly aficionados among you will recognise sparse hatches particularly on grey drizzly days as near perfect conditions. Fish haven't got too many naturals to choose from and seem to feed calmly rather than frantically. Those days were more frequent this year but it is always part of the mayfly experience for clients to see the staggering sight of a blizzard of duns and the meadows and bushes alive with dancing spinners, even if they find the fishing frustrating. The sparse hatches did give rise to wonderful spinner falls every few days and as ever these for me are the cream of mayfly fishing. The Avon system which seems to have had a good season will continue for some time and I caught some lovely little wildies on the Wylye yesterday during a nice trickle hatch of mayfly.


Picture: /blog-files/blog/w288/wylye-wildie.jpg


The June weedcut is a tough one for river keepers and this year the difference in approach from beat to beat will be extreme. The upper beats having had low flows following little winter rain had little early growth and will only be trimming and creating 'bars' to hold what water they have. The lower and some middle beats which have better water and flow have an abundance of ranunculus to cut and those with less flow will have bank to bank forests of ribbon weed to scythe or more often to cut by boat.

Some keepers love the weedcut. No fisherman to distract and annoy them and a moment to be creative, to exercise their keepering skills for the betterment of the river and the fishing. It's a long time since I did it but well remember the satisfaction of standing on the bank and watching the silt clear and a neat chequer board of cut ranunculus appear. For some keepers it is nerve wracking and an anxious time. Cut too much and water levels and flow will be reduced for the rest of the season. Silt builds up, water temperature rises, unwanted blanket weed takes over and fisherman complain. Cut too little and soon parts of the river become unfishable ... so fisherman complain. 



Picture: /blog-files/blog/w288/flowering-ranunculous-2.jpgPicture: /blog-files/blog/w288/weedcutters-art.jpg



Since the start of the season in mid April I've been on the river, guiding, pretty much every day, When not guiding I've been helping clients with their casting before venturing to some exotic and some less than exotic locations. This year more than most has had an international feel about it. I really do enjoy guiding for foreign clients. Most are excellent fisherman on their local streams and it doesn't take long for their home honed skills to adapt to the demands of the chalkstreams. A common thread among the best is their understanding of the need for delicate presentation and so their love of hand built, long tapered leaders. All immaculately constructed with a variety of soft and stiff, of nylon and fluorocarbon and various formulae of lengths and diameters to give each fly the perfect turnover. Perhaps I've become lazy or perhaps when guiding novices, particularly on larger group days, it is just easier to open another packet of commercially produced leaders particularly when using standard 5wt rods on which you can't go too fine so heavier tippets are a more practical solution. I'm turning the clock back but I've been so impressed, for my own fishing I am going to experiment for the rest of the year with home tied leaders.


I've found another must have bit of kit for my vest ... binoculars; just small inexpensive ones. They're always good to have in the Landrover but I have for about three seasons had these little ones in a pocket. It's not about failing eyesight (although it is a bit) I find when chasing spooky wildies, or stockies for that matter, they enable you to stay back and get a much better feel for what they're taking, both by seeing the fly and also the way it's being taken. It's amazing how often they are not eating the fly that's around and easily visible. I've always been sceptical about a multitude of 'rise forms' but through binoculars you can easily see the difference between a nose or a fin when without it so often just looks like a 'rise'. I recommend them. 


Atlantic salmon fishing is suffering everywhere and Scotland seems to be particularly hard hit. We travel north to fish out of loyalty and a love of Scotland and its beautiful rivers but with little expectation. I haven't noticed less people having lessons before their Scottish trips but there are definitely more who are going abroad with double handed rods having given up on over priced and unproductive Scottish salmon beats. It's a tragedy but I have two trips to the Tweed this summer and I will enjoy every cast, more so this year with a bit of rain about.


I really look forward to the post mayfly season as I've seen some above average olive hatches already. Overcast days, watching, waiting, small flies, long leaders ... can't wait.