Burton Springs Beginners Day

Saturday saw the arrival of the Burton Springs Beginners day near Bridgwater which I had set up some two months previously thinking that a June date would give us some good weather. It was an early start loading the car with all the equipment ready for the off and when I opened the front door I was met with some really heavy rain……..not what I had wanted to see.

We arrived at the fishery around 8.15 am and proceeded to set up for the days events but still in the pouring rain. Everyone started arriving around 9.30am and was greeted with tea and coffee and the day got started at 9.45 am.

I had hoped to run some of the course outside in the morning but this was just not possible due to the now monsoon type rain we getting!! Luckily Burton Springs has a lodge so we all packed into this for sessions on fly tying, entomology and knots and leaders.

Burton Springs Lodge….a haven from the bad weather!!

The weather broke just before lunch and I took everyone out onto the lake for a talk and demonstration on basic casting mechanics, 5 minutes into the demonstration the heavens opened again and we all made a dash back to the lodge for cover, it was short lived and we were all soon on the bank again to finish this session.

Getting to grips with the casting.

After lunch we were lucky as the weather seemed to get better and we were all able to get out and get into some casting before finishing up with some fishing with a few fish landed on the bank to end a great day.

One of the casting sessions.

The day was made all the better with the great people that had turned up, all of us had a good laugh and a chuckle throughout the day which helped considering the conditions we had to endure. Everyone went home with a smile on their face so I guess it was mission accomplished!!

The smile says it all!!


For everything they done to make the day a success, I would like to say a big thank you to fellow instructors Sally and Tony Pizii, Gilly for laying on all the great food for the day, taking the photos and not forgetting the home made cakes which went down well!! And finally to Adam and Dave down at Burton Springs Fishery for hosting the day and helping us make the day run smoothly.

Father & Son enjoying the fishing.

For those of you that attended the day, I would be grateful for any feedback that you can give me by filling out the message box at the bottom of this page and please feel free to copy any of the photos I have posted here.

Keep an eye out here for similar future events and come and join us on the bank.

Here are some photos of the day, please click on a thumbnail to enlarge the photo.

Getting a grip.

When it comes to fly casting, probably one of the least thought about aspects is how we actually hold the rod itself. In this post I look at how “getting a grip” of the fly rod is an important factor when it comes to fly casting.

Fly anglers can spend hours on the bank fishing and then practicing their casting without even thinking about how they are gripping the rod and how this is affecting the cast they make. We all strive for that “perfect loop” and a nice presentation as our line floats to the water’s surface, so next time you pick up a fly rod please consider the following points.

When casting, try not to grip the rod handle too tightly. This can restrict the free flowing movement of the rest of the arm by tensing the muscles which can lead to a very painful arm ache at the end of a day’s fishing or even cause injury, remember using tense muscles is bad news.  Adopt a lose grip but one that’s firm enough so you can still control the rod throughout the casting arc. It’s easy to spot someone who is gripping too hard when I am teaching as their knuckles usually turn white after about 10 minutes!

Hand too far back, rod becomes unbalanced in the hand.


Hand position is another important factor. There are three main grips you can use. Firstly the thumb on top grip, my preferred grip and one I teach most of the time. As it says grip the rod with your thumb on top of the handle. The thumb then becomes a great training aid as it is in your eye line, so you just watch what your thumb is doing and the rod tip will be doing exactly the same, so in essence the rod becomes an extension of your thumb, far easier to see what your thumb is doing rather than the tip of your rod. With a fly cast the line will only travel in the direction of the rod so therefore the line will only travel in the direction your thumb is moving. Try it out, push your thumb towards the target on the forward cast and the line should simply follow your thumb.

Thumb on top.


The next grip is with the index finger on top of the handle. Most people find this grip uncomfortable if using it for any length of time, although it can be useful for short range casting when accuracy may be the key to fooling a fish, use the finger as an “aiming sight” in the same way you used your thumb in the previous grip. I use this grip occasionally when I am teaching people who suffer with excessive wrist break in the cast as this restricts the wrist break because of the position of the hand.

Finger on top.


Lastly there is the “screwdriver” or “golf grip”. This is where you hold the rod with your index finger down one side of the handle and your thumb down the other. Although this grip may feel natural and comfortable I wouldn’t recommend it as the rod can move excessively in the hand thus making it hard to control the cast.

The “screwdriver” grip.

Which Fly Rod? Part 2 – Rod Length and Line Rating.

I get asked a lot by newcomers to fly fishing when purchasing their first rod “which fly rod should I buy to start with?”

With an array of rods on offer in today’s market this is not such a simple question to answer, there are many specialist rods out there now for specific fly fishing situations. I remember in my early fly fishing days, around 35 years ago, I was bought a rod by my parents and made do with that one rod for many types of fly fishing from small West Country streams through to large reservoir fishing. The rod was around 9’ 6” for a 7 weight line and if I remember rightly and I had to make do with this! This rod was used in all sorts of situations, poking it through the bushes on a small stream and just hanging the fly off of the end of the rod, a method now called “short lining” and using it in tight situations with Roll casts and Spey casts when I didn’t even know what these casts were at the time, I just got on with it and improvised with the rod I had, looking back I now wonder how much more successful I would have been having a more suitable rod for each situation.

Choosing the right rod length and line rating makes things a bit easier.


For a beginner nowadays they need to identify what type of fishing they will be doing and for most this will be cutting their teeth on small commercial fisheries where the banks are maintained and there is no need for a long cast.

For this type of fly fishing in mind I would suggest a rod of around 9’ which casts a line of either a 5 or 6 weight. This rod would also be fairly versatile in respect that it could be used on a medium sized river or in calm conditions on a large open expanse of water such as a reservoir. The 5 weight version would be more suited to river work where lighter lines pay dividends.

Listed below are some recommendations for rod sizes:-

Small streams – 7’ to 8’ rod with a line rating of 2 to 4.

Medium sized rivers – 8’ to 9’ with a line rating of 4 to 6.

Large rivers and small stillwaters – 9’ to 9’6” with a line rating of 5 to 6.

Reservoirs – 9’6” to 10’ with a line rating of 6 to 8, 10’ rod for boat fishing.

Saltwater and Pike fishing – 9’ to 9’6” with a line rating of 8 to 9.

This is a very broad list bearing in mind there are some very specialist rods out there now, one example being a 10’ for a 3 or 4 weight line now used on rivers for a method called “Czech nymphing”where a long rod is used for greater line control.

Fly Fishing and the National

Last Saturday I had to make a trip to Burton Springs fishery to drop off some posters for the Beginners day I’m running in June.

I arrived about 2.00pm in blazing sunshine and was greeted by Adam who runs the fishery along with his father. These guys are really friendly and switched on when it comes to running a venue, always on hand with useful advice and a smile…………what a refreshing change compared to some of the places I have been to in the past. If you get a chance to visit, don’t hesitate, you’re sure to have a great day. They have even just added a pleasure lake where you can fly fish for carp, a great alternative in the summer when the days get too hot for the trout.

High Sun at Burton Springs

After putting up the posters in the ticket room and the lodge, I thought long and hard for all of thirty seconds before deciding I just had to wet a line!! Probably not the best conditions with a big sun high in the sky but I couldnt resist having a go anyway.

After wandering around the lake to my chosen spot and sat on a bench to tackle up whilst keeping one eye on the water. No sign of any fish for the ten minutes or so while I was sat there…….no surprise there given the conditions. I decided to fish a black buzzer deep under an indicator as there were a few midge coming off the water, not everyones cup of tea I know but needs must sometimes.

I fished this method for an hour or so varying the depth, fishing the buzzer static and with a retrieve without even a sniff off a fish. Time to change, so I then tied on a bead head Damsel, fished that through the depths and with different retrieves but still no joy. At this point I realised it was time for a different plan of attack so I decided to retire to the lodge for a cup of coffee until the sun had dropped in the sky a bit.

Who stole my seat!!

On arriving at the lodge I discoverd Adam and his father glued to the t.v. as the Grand National was on, I’d totally forgotton about this and usually have an unsucessful flutter on the race myself. Adam on the otherhand had a bet on. The race started and so did all the shouting and cheering with it, any anglers in earshot must have wondered what was going on!

Some rod bending action
…….followed by a Rainbow at the net

Race over I returned to the lake to find a few fish moving so I changed my set up to a black Harry Potter dry with a black buzzer suspended a couple of feet underneath it New Zealand style with the result being the first fish in the net after five minutes. The action really got going as the evening progressed with fish coming to both the dry and the buzzer, all in all a great session after a very slow start. Sometimes its just good to take a break if the fish aren’t playing ball, sit back and realx and enjoy the surroundings and wildlife………or go horse racing!!