Posts Tagged ‘lee cummings’


The 5th World Championships in Fly Casting has been organised to run as a three day event.

The official opening of the competition will be held on the evening of Thursday 16th August 2018 and the competition will start on Friday 17th until the final award ceremony on the evening of Sunday 19th August 2018.

The event will take place at Port Haverigg in Cumbria / North England with huge thanks to Mr Alfie Best from the host company Wyldecrest Parks.

An excellent value Thursday to Sunday four night stay package has been put together for all competitors looking to stay on the site.

The registration details along with “how to get here” will become available soon on the official World Championships website

We sincerely look forward to welcoming competitors from all over the globe to this beautiful region of West Cumbria and trust you will thoroughly enjoy your stay and competitive experience here.

Best Regards




During the 2014 Fly Casting World Championships held in Norway last year I stood and watched in awe as Mr Tor Gjersøe took the Gold medal in the 5# Trout distance final. To witness this multi talented 59 year old athlete “who has competed at Norwegian national level in various sports”, win this event from what was another world class field, helped cement some of the thoughts that have been in my mind for a very long time.


“Mr Tor Gjersøe, Current World Champion in 5# Trout Distance Casting”

Image used with kind permission from Mr Knut Kåsine Ekelund

There’s one thing I would like to point out to anyone who is interested in this game which all the serious competitors fully respect. “…Distance fly casting competitions outdoors can be a very cruel unforgiving sport…”

Over the years through participating in such competitions, we learn that atmospheric conditions for competitors can change within minutes and this can often lead to an outright advantage or disadvantage. We have all witnessed truly outstanding distances achieved by some of the worlds most renowned casters, who at the crucial time were operating in no wind, only to then get beat shortly after by relative huge margins to casters who had just a little wind behind them when it was their turn, this is a simple reality of this sport, we can only do the best we can in the conditions we face at the time…. Please bear that in mind if you ever decide to judge a persons performance based on result, without actually having been there at the time yourself.

I’m going back now to 2011, where I was fortunate enough to be patiently taught correct weight training techniques by my friend Dominic Connor. Upon reflection, the training he taught me was a hypertrophy style regime with a fair emphasis on the compound exercises, Squat, Bench Press and Dead lift, a good well rounded approach which was eventually making me stronger than I was. The primary purpose of this training for me was to help strengthen and protect a weakened lower back which stemmed from a culmination of work related injuries over the years.

2nd place Ragley Hall

In casting practice during stages of this new “and forever formative” weight training lifestyle, I noticed the casting results were getting better “as was my luck” compared to my previous efforts.

In one event “The CLA Open International Salt Water Competition” I had achieved an unbelievable second place position in the 2013 final, second to a £1000 winning 1st place prize by 6 inches.

In 2014 I was training at my hardest and now up to using a 10ft T44 Single hand rod which was custom made especially for me by my good friend Bass Stewart of .

We humorously named this rod the “Thors Hammer” and I was now able to single handedly propel a legal 44-46 grams of floating shooting head, backwards into hard hitting tailwind conditions.. launching forwards a very long way, all during extremely long training sessions without any pain…

Thors Hammer Competition Rod 1

As much training as it took to get to the level where I could use this rod to full effect, I did learn again in actual competition the hard way, that the still conditions encountered in the south of the country during the height of the summer, might not match what normally greets me when I step outside my front door up here in Cumbria,  as a result, my well rehearsed “heavy tailwind game” using this specialist equipment never got the chance to deliver its full potential in competition, although the technique gains learned from its operation thankfully still remain.

Thors Hammer Competition Rod 2

Sadly in 2014 this highly unique casting competition was cancelled, then reinstated, but downgraded to “no prize money”, which actually lessened the will to win for the first time in 5 years.

Now in 2015 I heard that ALL casting competitions at the CLA Game fair have actually been scrapped. The Thor’s Hammer will remain as my uniquely special “heavy training rod” for winter sessions and must wait until the day the CLA hierarchy hopefully change these shocking decisions.

World Fly Casting Championship specification events

Last winter whilst looking ahead to what I perceived as “the impending doom” of turning 40 years of age in April 2015, I realised that my weight training efforts need to be structured properly towards a casting competition. Over the last four years the difficulty for me stemmed from simply not learning how to back off weight training correctly so that I was not sore whilst recovering from gym work on casting competition days, without backing off completely, which makes returning to the gym harder.

During the research period which followed, I actually learned from how power lifters train and deemed this to be the most sensible approach. It was also during this time that I had researched up coming events and set my target on competing in Sweden in the 2015 Piteå Open.

Anyone who follows the sport of Power lifting will certainly be familiar with the names Andy Bolton and Eric Lilliebridge. I instantly learned in February by purchasing Eric’s training program that you do not train for plus 100% max every week, or month for that matter… 8-13 weeks out is seemingly where it really starts to get going for these guys, with maximum weights only ever attempted on the actual “meet” day.

These guys do not leave their best performances behind in the gym 

A birthday gift from my wife Angela was to attend a pre booked Dead Lift workshop with Mr Andy Bolton on the 30th May. You cannot fail to be inspired by meeting the man who was the first ever in history to dead lift a weight totaling over 1000lbs in official competition, more so when he proposed to discuss grip strength techniques which I believed would help the casting furthermore. Andy quickly set to work on my dead lift form and then encouraged me to attempt and successfully pull two dead lift pb’s in one session. My mind was blown ……………

Andy Bolton Lee Cummings“We will be attending to watch Andy at this years World Dead Lift Championships in Leeds in July 11th”


My actual casting event training has continued on pretty much unbroken from the time of the last world championships. I had spent time last October looking to try and be competitive in the 15ft Spey event of which I was not confident enough to enter at the last WC.

Towards the end of last year with the drought conditions we experienced up here, I remember there was little else to do but put my time into something productive, welding up new lines and hitting them hard with the excellent Vision Tool 15ft Rod

IMG_1173[1]Cumbrian skies in October 2014

During the training plans week of well earned “weights” rest, “whilst stuffing down more banquets upon banquets of food to put me right from it” the dead lifting achievements were still fresh in my mind, along with all what Andy taught us during that session, I was psychologically and physically fully charged up for the Swedish 2015 Piteå Open the following week. I went into absolutely finalizing event training in 15ft Spey, 18ft Spey, Sea Trout distance and 55g Salmon overhead distance. My 5# Trout distance casting really needs to undergo a rebuild, which was too late to start now and Trout accuracy is something I don’t really practice outside of fishing pursuits, although I have taken steps to correct that since.


The 55g Salmon overhead event was one I was getting the most enjoyment out of and I was feeling very confident about this. I thankfully had Angela with me placing marker stones along the lagoon edge, right next to where the fly was landing in the water. This was to be measured later on with a little treat I purchased for myself.. a 100m measuring Laser which was used to fire back to a datum plate located at where I was casting from… “boys and their toys!”…;)


Panoramic of one area of Hodbarrow Lagoon, a perfect location to host a WC spec casting event.

The Swedish team “of whom I have an enormous amount of respect for” is led by a very good friend of mine, Mr Stefan Siikavaara. In the absence of CLA Gamefair competitions to attend, the Piteå Open was to be the casting competition highlight of 2015, “you may be guessing by now how much this is all meaning to me”. Stefan assured me of a great competition and that is exactly what I got..!

Having an evening with some of the Swedish team at the location where the event was to be held in the morning was a great experience, we could have cast here all night at 65.2 degrees north this time of year!

As the event opened on Saturday morning I was welcomed by all the members there and sportingly wished by everyone that we all get the same conditions to cast in. During the official opening it was announced that this year the event was officially classified as the first Piteå Open “International” event. I thought this was top form on their part… Thank you all once again.!

In qualifying it went as follows


I was knocked out of qualifying for this final by 10cm “the measurement margin of which they round up or down to” by Henrick Utterstrom.

It is also worth noting that my friend Ulrik’s 43.9 metre cast was actually the very first cast delivered and measured of the competition… I will never forget Stefan turning to me with a huge smile as this happened and saying ” looks like this is gonna be tough one mate”…… “No f’n shit!!!” I replied..


I qualified in third place for the final in this event, only to then come last, a touchy shooting head event is the 27g Sea trout and it simply wasn’t my time against these guys. Respect!


Salmon distance, the one I was hoping to do well in, I missed qualifying for the final again by the 10 cm margin, albeit to my friend Ulrik this time. Well Done Ulrik lad!

We chip away at a small whiskey that night back at Stefan and Anna-Karin’s house and I’m fairly pleased that I made at least one final, whilst narrowly missing two others.

The following day we were to go to another location where we could carry out the Spey and accuracy events. Upon arrival the support team had already set up the courses that morning and we could pretty much get on with the competition right away, slick professionalism on their part, very impressive..!


The essential tackle control template.

The Spey qualification rounds were fought out in stable wind conditions and with a perfect site for the trout accuracy event.

IMG_2056[1]The Hi Viz Trout accuracy court

IMG_2055[1]The 15ft Spey Casting arena

I was fortunate enough on this day to make it into all three finals which came as a huge surprise to me!

Flugfisketävling Långnäs fiske spöm  Svensbyfjärden Lillpiteälven

Flugfisketävling Långnäs fiske spöm Svensbyfjärden Lillpiteälven

The 18ft rod Spey Casting Final

“Image taken by and used with kind permission from Gunnar Westergren of the Piteå Tidningen”

The qualification and finals results were as follows.

Screenshot (27)

15ft Spey Event

Screenshot (25)

18ft Spey Event.

Screenshot (26)

Flugfisketävling Långnäs fiske spöm  Svensbyfjärden Lillpiteälven

Flugfisketävling Långnäs fiske spöm Svensbyfjärden Lillpiteälven

Ulrik & Roger, great talented guys who did not make the Spey casting day easy by any means.

“Image taken by and used with kind permission from Gunnar Westergren of the Piteå Tidningen”

I thought it fitting to wear our local Millom rugby teams shirts for this day, owed simply for that great little gym you have, It feels lucky… this year there’s been an intriguing level of success to Millom lads who train down there. The currently undefeated run by Millom RLFC this season, Midge Dixon and other players have been on tour, my friend Dean Myers’s son “Owen” is currently out on tour with the English Lionhearts, my friend Dominic and his second consecutive win in two body building shows. Joe who not only won Mr Britain but also along with Gary, made it “most enormously!” to the NABBA Body Building World Championships in Malta! Hard working lads from just a little coastal town in West Cumbria, a town which hopefully can one day host a World Championship Fly Casting event.

IMG_1642[1]Hodbarrow Lagoon, Millom. A place where current official competition casting records could fall.

Going back full circle now to Mr Tor Gjersøe. Distance fly casting at world championship level is an athletic event, A full on sport, even if an unfair one at times. To undertake competition seriously you would not go far wrong in believing that having good technique alone will only get you so far. You are entering into an athletic arena and can treat it with the same level of commitment that other sports athletes do. Distance fly casting has put me into an environment which sees me work to forever improve, the assistance work is keeping me healthy and those dormant injuries well at bay.

When it’s utterly pointless to go fishing during any season, I simply go casting & in between casting, I’m training weights… This feels like I am always working towards it. I was lucky enough to catch sight of conditions in Sweden that I am familiar with from home, I took the chance, one which may never happen for me again until I reach Tors age, who knows. One thing for sure is that if the opportunity ever arises again, I know I will have done all I can to try stay on top of my game and should hopefully be ready for it.

Taking a World Championship Gold medal from a field of talented youth, no wonder Tor was smiling…!

Thank you to ALL the members of Piteå sportfiskeklubb and the rest of the Swedish team for welcoming me and putting on a great competition!

I extend huge gratitude to Anna-Karin Wiklund and Stefan Siikavaara for your very kind hospitality during my stay in Sweden.

Thank you for reading.


I was recently asked if I would write some words on what are the top five common mistakes that beginners make when fly casting, but what I am going to attempt to do here is to summarise two issues, basic bug bears of mine which I personally believe were the root cause of many casting problems for beginners and also seasoned anglers alike, for the later it usually shows when they wish to progress into advanced levels of technical ability.

Lets set a basic scenario where the people who arrange to meet me are coming because they “wish to improve their overhead casting and want to learn how to double haul”.

OK, this is easy, a potential loop shaping day where we are going to get the best out of this session by simply casting line back and forth above our heads, making adjustments whilst watching out the for outcome of our actions, reading back the truthful story that the loop in the line tells us.

One of the questions I normally ask a client whilst setting up his/her own equipment is “may I ask what line you are currently using there?” and secondly “what is the head length ?”

These are not trick questions, I just simply wish to learn about the clients mindset as to why they chose that line, or why it was recommended to them. Quite often the client remembers the name of the line manufacturer and even the model name and its AFFTA classification number, but there the knowledge of it often ceases.

Lets look at this from another angle, when aspiring to catching a fish with a fly, the first thing I personally think of is the fishes current environment, where do you intend to encounter it? “Still water?, River? “large, small” Estuary?, Open beach?. etc…

From there I move onto what flies are potentially needed to present to attract these fish. They may or may not represent exactly something which the fish actually eats, “but that is not important for now”. The make up of flies however is, and whatever format they are going to come in, they need to be tied on an appropriate diameter/strength and length of leader which needs to be able to present them correctly, in the manner to continue to attract the fish.

This leader needs to be coupled to a fly line which needs to have the capability to be cast effectively to all the potential ranges of the fish, and carry the leader and flies we are attempting to present without fuss.

Finally we need to select an appropriate rod which satisfactorily amplifies our efforts in casting to all ranges with ease this line/leader and flies combination to the fish we are looking to attract, in the environment we are fishing for it in. For me the line sits right in the middle of this logic and its here where most casting improvements can come to clients in an instant. if only they were to understand more about what they have set themselves up to having to deal with.

A good instructor knows handy ways to establish the head length of the line if the head length is not known, this information is vital to understand. He/She can impart this information to you too within a tolerance of a few feet, within minutes, then be able to make a judgement as to its actual suitability for purpose, if your instructor cannot provide you with the above, I would be very tempted to walk away from the session “casting instructors should really be nerds when it comes to fly line tapers, weights lengths etc”

The problem for the operator of establishing head length may be compounded by the fact that the line is one single colour all the way from the tip to the backing knot and you cannot tell where that thick bit ends and the thin bit starts. This is no surprise, it can often be difficult to detect, the most extreme examples have come where I have had to reverse weight forward fly lines that were loaded incorrectly on the reel, with the thin running line at the front end, and the essential casting weight of the head buried deep underneath within the spool .

Without clarification or knowledge of what you are looking or feeling for, you might have good fishing days where “that feels good and right” as you make casts, then on other days you can’t get it to work at all. A single colour line in inexperienced hands generally makes the requirement for guess work during false casting become even larger and generally makes the experience of casting and fishing quite hit and miss.

In these instances of single colour lines of which clients are struggling with, I offer to establish the actual head length for them, and offer with their permission to make a small mark on the running line with a marker pen so that when they hold this mark in their line hand, the pre designed head configuration and an appropriate amount of running line for effective casting “and hauling” will be positioned beyond the rod tip. The very least this will do is offer a visual reference point for the beginnings of replicative actions to be performed, think, they will be picking up the same length and weight of line each time once this reference point is reached. This can quickly take away the constant inconsistent battle of the tension searching guessing game and can really speed up the learning process.
Ultimately dual colour lines which indicate exactly where the head meets the running line are my favourite, they are just fantastic.

If a line of inappropriate and excessive head length has been purchased, the angler “after some frustrations” does the sensible thing and only false casts out to a length which they can manage, sadly the outer most reach of their fishing is regulated by a head length issue right there.

I have in the past used an infantile “and obviously false” but effective analogy that we can try to imagine that a fly line head was made by manufacturer A from a lump of plasticine, a blob which, lets just say weighed 13 grams, the manufacturer starts by rolling out this blob on a table into a 30ft pointed medieval arrow head shape, this arrow shape will become the head of the line which is then fused onto the thinner level diameter running line. “The fly rods we are currently using on this particular day funnily enough feel nice when we are cast 13 grams of weight, just like how a 6oz beach caster can feel nice as it casts a 6oz lead”

Manufacturer B takes the same 13 grams of plasticine and rolls out their arrow shape design to 30 ft in length but instead of stopping there, they carry on rolling until the arrow shape is 40-50ft long. it still weighs the same as A’s , however its weight is further distributed over another 10-20 ft and will be generally thinner overall.

The angler who has bought manufacturer B’s line takes it out fishing and discovers he cannot cast back and forth without error the full 40-50ft “or 13 grams”, so as wrote above, does the sensible thing which is to false cast to a length at which he can manage, however the negative effects on progression with their casting due to subscribing to this action are many.

Firstly the 13 grams of weight that should be out beyond the tip is no longer, as now some of the designed casting weight is now inside the rod rings, “this situation can be followed by complaints that the line is light for the rod. “Nope, we are simply not utilising the full weight of the head design at this present range…”

Having some of the thicker diameter head inside the rod can have the effect of slowing down the feel of the rod and making it feel sluggish/less crisp than it actually could be.

When larger diameter line of the head is sliding through the rings, and as above, less weight is out beyond the tip this can make Double Hauling difficult to learn for those new to the technique. Any sense of feel for line tension in the line hand is not as prevalent. This feel of tension in the line held in the hand for me is THE key indicator to help me return the hand back to to the rod smoothly at the correct time and rate after each haul.

The resistance due to friction caused by the larger diameter line of the head inside the rod will also without a doubt impede the final shoot of the line when a larger casting distance is required.

Finally when starting from short ranges it gets harder to get longer headed lines tensioned up to the point where you feel confidently connected and in control of the fly at all times as the rod may not be loading correctly. It can feel like waving cotton around for the first few casts and it takes more time to slip more and more line to get things moving to the point where the feel of connection to the casting weight becomes obvious.

The weight of the head of the line beyond the tip assists in the bending the rod, converting our rotational movements of the shoulder, arm and hand into a somewhat linear movement of the rod tip, if the tip is not travelling straight, this can result in many undesired outcomes, such as open loops, reduced distance, problems with casting in winds, over exertion by the operator…….. casting unhappiness!

Millions of people for decades have learned to cast their own way with their own equipment and collectively caught billions of fish, without ever the assistance from instructors, that is for sure, but If some of what I have wrote rings a bell and you definitely want to step up your abilities without seeing an instructor, my advise would be to consider getting nerdy by spending more time looking at the casting weight over length distribution specifications of the heads on the lines you may be interested in buying and try to envisage if they are the right ones for you, for the fish you seek where you do…


Last night on Twitter I ran a quick online competition during #Cumbriahour. The rules were very simple in that I asked the people who follow me to re tweet a particular tweet, where I was offering a days Fly Casting tuition / Guided fishing day in 2013.

In total there were 8 people who followed the instructions correctly and from these people I was to select one random chosen winner at 9pm, however I changed my mind and thought “bugger it, they can all have a day if they wish ” 😉

Upon contacting the 8 winners, one very thoughtful gentleman called Dan Colloby wrote the following

Dan Colloby ‏@DanColloby
@stsflyfishing though I could do with the tuition, please give it to a more deserving cause or give a small donation to @DiabetesUK thanks

21h Lee Cummings Lee Cummings ‏@stsflyfishing
@DanColloby My 7year old daughter has had type1 since she was 18 month*, if that’s your wish then I will honour that by auctioning your day;)

21h Dan Colloby Dan Colloby ‏@DanColloby
@stsflyfishing thank you Lee ,that means a lot to me & best wishes to your daughter.

So in light of Dan’s wishes above I would like to offer the readers here one full day of Fly Casting Tuition with the option of Guided fishing for either Mullet, Bass, Sea Trout, Brown Trout or Salmon, up here in Cumbria, to be taken at the winning bidders convenience “during the chosen species probable time” in 2013, with all proceeds from the winning bid going directly to

Ideally I would like people to bid online using Twitter in direct contact with myself @stsflyfishing using the following hashtag #leecummingsflyfishingauction . I understand that people do not use Twitter, so I will also accept bids via E mail to if the E mail title is the before mentioned hashtag #leecummingsflyfishingauction

To clarify an Email bid I will take a direct snapshot of the mail off my phone and post that to Twitter as confirmation of the bid.

Currently my wife and I must administer four insulin injections, carry out regular blood sugar monitoring and provide a careful dietary regime everyday for our 7 year old daughter Eryn. As things stand this will never change for her until a cure for Diabetes is found.

There are millions of people worldwide who also share Eryns condition who must also undergo the same regime, simply to prevent the onset of life threatening conditions. These circumstances have been central to all my young family’s daily life, ever since the day little Eryn fell extremely sick…….therefore following Dans thoughtful suggestion there would no better charity to donate the proceeds!

I can advise that this auction will close at 12am on January 1st 2013


Thank you in advance


I would like to present you with an enhanced re write of an old article from the first version of Source to Sea fly fishing. After stumbling onto the old website tonight, I can’t let this one go….

At Hodbarrow lake 27 Years ago when I was around the age of 10 my introduction into the world of fresh water fishing began, I can assure you that Hodbarrow has continued to intrigue me for years. If I ever left Millom, I would miss Hodbarrow more than anything else about this region.
Historically Hodbarrow was a mining area, and up until well after the 2nd world war haematite ore was heavily extracted from this area, and it was thanks mainly to the mining industry that today’s town of Millom as we know it was born.
One major problem which the industry faced, was holding back the tides as they rolled in twice daily, I’m told initially a sea defence was built, constructed predominantly of wooden stakes and mud, but it became apparent very soon that this defence was inadequate and a new and more sturdy “Sea Wall” was needed, so work began on the second outer defence which was to be constructed with locally sourced stone.

Although very formidable compared to the first defence system, the second sea wall began to show cracks and points of failure due to the mine expansion and undermining the area under the wall to reach more ore rich ground, the shifting sands and clay like base on which the wall was built didn’t help either, as the second wall began to fail,  a 3rd Sea wall was constructed to surround the entire mining area to make the mines watertight once and for all…..

Looking South West over the old submerged pump house towards the collapsed 2nd Sea Wall

Ariel image taken from above the 3rd outer defence, the land fault clearly visible between the 2nd wall ends, along with the old pump house at the top right.

The 3rd outer sea defence still stands to this day and is holding quite well given its age. This whole area makes for fantastic fishing opportunities, simply because on one side of the wall you can be salt water fishing in the Irish Sea and on the other you can be fresh water fishing in Hodbarrow. I would like to continue with the story of how Hodbarrow as a Trout fishery was born…

Looking towards the Westward end 2nd sea wall section “middle right”, with the Lake district fells in the back ground..

In the 70’s, development was underway on the banks of Hodbarrow lake and it became a popular tourist attraction in the form of a caravan site, and the land was renowned as a valuable nature reserve, with Arctic terns nesting here year after year, among many other bird species. The lake was drained to some degree in the 1980’s so that a long straight and thin spit of land could be constructed “shown protruding from the left on the image above”, and this was the beginnings of making Hodbarrow a prime water skiing venue. The water that was drained from the lake to allow this spit to be built was replaced with water from the sea until the lake rose above the level left behind from natural springs of the mines, and the use of sea water is where a un foreseen problem would arise in the near future..

The owner of the developing holiday making site was receiving numerous complaints from caravan owners and holiday makers regarding the sheer amount of predominantly two-winged insects which were hatching from the water and “terrorising” people in the evenings. An idea was put forward to introduce fish into the lake which could help alleviate this problem, as they would hover up the insects whilst they were still developing in the aquatic stage of their life, and would consume a percentage of the hatching and mature egg laying adults at the surface.

Baby Food

The adult menu of bigger fish consists of Snail and Stickleback                                                                                                  

Some small coarse fish were purchased and transported to Hodbarrow to be kept in a segregated area of the Lake. The owner went down daily to hand feed these fish, but one day to his dismay he found that the fish had died. Over a period of time, of which I cannot confirm, the EA were called to come and sample the water. They went on to suggest introducing Rainbow trout which are more tolerant of slight deviations from ideal conditions.

Subsequently rainbows were purchased and placed again in a segregated area, hand fed by the owner, and to his delight the fish were seemingly quite happy for a full fortnight, most importantly they did not die…These lucky fish were released and allowed to venture off into the gloomy depths of the main body of water and further stocks were purchased and introduced, it was shortly after that did Hodbarrow opened up as a fishery.

The lake produces good hatches of Two winged flies, Damsels, Up-wings, Sedges, and its very abundant in Lesser Water Boatmen, Water Hog louse, topped off with huge shoals of sticklebacks. The fish that are introduced into Hodbarrow are very lucky fish indeed, they have over 190 acres to roam, spread out over 4 miles of shoreline, with a maximum depth of 110ft where the 2nd sea wall went down the furthest…………… plus all that food to go at!!

Where can you get “Im with this Idiot”  T shirts these days…………? 🙂

Forgive me as I reminisce now but as kids we were once kitted out with basic sea fishing equipment one Christmas, we then spent many hours of our life’s digging up lug worm on Millom shore, prior to the tide rolling in. When fishing, in between waiting for bites we would pass time hand lining for crabs down the gaps in the blocks of the 3rd sea wall we were stood on. Winching in occasional flatfish on 25lb line was one thing and great non the less, but nothing prepared me for the first fight with a Hodbarrow Rainbow. I will remember the following till the day I die, as clearly as if it was yesterday.

One afternoon I had set up the family tent in our side garden on Huddlestone Road with a view to camping out that night, my mate Dominic was allowed to camp out with me too, we had no idea that his uncle Mark was going to appear and wake us up at around 3am to see if we wanted to go fish Hodbarrow….! I remember quietly getting on my bike and sneaking out of the garden, crapping myself in case my dad woke up. Blurry eyed in the steely grey/blue of night to-day break, we pedaled to the sea wall in record time. We only had Marks rod to fish with and we took it in turns to bait up with bread and cast out, retiring each time into the cover and safety of the bramble. Casting this lightweight outfit was new to me, the set up was 10lb line and a medium-sized stick float coupled with a starlight indicator, held on to the top by an oversize float rubber, underneath was some shot onto the drop and the hook. The conditions were calm and quiet until the luminous starlight disappeared down at an angle into the gloomy depths of Hodbarrow as I was holding the rod. The line pulling really tight and the drag making a racket was something I never experienced from fishing off the other side in the sea.

Eventually the fish came ashore and I couldn’t believe what had just happened……….

Explaining to my parents where this fish came from that following morning was another story…………….and just that 😉

My grandfather George Cummings was an avid angler and hunter, with myself being the eldest grandchild who now also had some Hodbarrow experience “trust me he got to hear about my fish once I was in the clear”, most summer evenings I would religiously stand by the lamppost outside my home at 7pm, waiting to see his car come around the corner for him to take me to fish the evening rise,  not once did he let me down, he was very happy at having such a place to go in his home town. As a child i remember quite clearly in the years that followed seeing fish rising everywhere once things got going, giving me something to throw my bubble and fly at. Being out well past 10pm with my grandfather and fellow anglers was always a buzz, especially safe in the knowledge that I wasnt going to get into trouble with my parents.


Typical overwintered Hodbarrow Rainbow Trout

Before long, stories were going around town of  big fish being caught down at Hodbarrow, and these were not angling tall stories neither, as they were often witnessed by many, Local sea anglers who had just started to fish for trout for the very first time were amazed at how hard these fish could fight, just like I did that first night. There were instances of carelessly unattended float rods going into the water, the fish in there quickly started to become legendary amongst those who sought after them. One name in particular which I remember quite fondly from my childhood was “Big John” a name aptly given to any Hodbarrow fish which smashed an angler…..

“It was Big John, im telling ya!!!!!” 🙂

Sadly over the late 80’s – 90’s years and largely through under stocking “not poaching”, Hodbarrow was always a kind of hit and miss place. You would fish there all year and take a few fish, or someone with no experience who never fished it before could be there and within 10 min catch a fish of a lifetime to someone! You paid your money and you took your chance….

One final twist to Hodbarrows history is that in 2004 during a moment of genius by the fish supplier, the very first addition of brown trout “approximately 3-5 inches in length” were introduced into the lake, and what a monumental day that was!. In the 2007 season aggressive feeding brown trout began to turn up in anglers catches, displaying a growth rate that has been truly phenomenal, from a tiny trout that represents something from the upper reaches of a Cumbrian spate river, to fish like the one above in just over three years!!

What is also fantastic news is that of course unlike diploid rainbows, the mixed sex brown trout that were introduced were able to reproduce to a degree under certain conditions in the shallow wind-swept bays over winter. This can be viewed as quite a rare occurrence, given that successful spawning cycles usually required clean feeder streams, of which there are none into Hodbarrow, but this proves that nature works in fantastic ways to ensure species survival.

A Hodbarrow born Brown Trout 30,3,2008. This fish had been reared from the initial stock of Browns of 2004

In June 2008, Millom and District Angling Association and myself recognised the excellent angling potential from continuing stocking Hodbarrow with tiny Brown Trout and we paid for a second supplement of Brown Trout to be delivered ourselves, ” check out this old website news page “. Given how crap this year has been for me on the shores thanks to excess water in the estuaries and relentless North West winds to flatten most Mullet fishing days, I have decided to return to my old haunt for the rest of this season. When those few thousand little fish went in, I did bid them a fond farewell, promising to return them safely if they gave me some sport in about four years time……



This site is to serve simply as my on-line fishing and casting development diary, which will remember the things I forget and hopefully help teach me a lesson or two in the future.

It didn’t take long…..!

An avid fisherman who has rivers or sea shores on his doorstep can naturally be drawn to them in times of extreme weather, at least that’s how I feel at such times..

I remember the afternoon of November 19th 2009 when I was working a back shift, the whole of Sellafield sites day and staff workers got sent home early due to a months worth of rainfall in less than 24 hours, traffic chaos followed all over Cumbria due to flood water hazards with rivers bursting their banks and bridges collapsing. That afternoon after working three hours into a nine-hour shift, although we are classed as essential workers and were told to remain on site, we were also given a green light to make our way home whilst we still could, as things had gotten that bad.

River Irt at Holmrook around 4 pm Nov 19th 2009

River Irt at Santon Bridge at 4.30pm Nov 19th 2009

I managed to get home safely and whilst eating a bonus meal in the comfort of my own home, I couldn’t get the thoughts out of my head as to just how much fresh water I witnessed as I passed by “and through” the Rivers Irt, Mite and Esk to get home. The River Irt at Holmrook was already seeping through areas of the stone wall and spilling onto the A595, that was at 4pm.

How full would Ravenglass estuary be at low water “predicted for 18.55pm” was something that was fascinating me as this amount of rainfall is a very rare event, however taking a decision to go and see for myself how full the estuary was would be was one which carried with it a commitment then to stay out all night. To get back up to Ravenglass from Millom meant crossing the already flooded road which neighboured the River Esk before the climb up to Muncaster. This river, like the others was rising through the afternoon, and once I would be north of it and the tide started to run I knew there would be no way back until it receded. A second purpose/justification for going back up the coast would also be to ensure that my friends who lived in Holmrook on the banks of the Irt would have some small assistance in defending their home if needed. The river outside their house was already coming through the defensive wall and I know that a typical spring tide will reach up river to a point 200 metres downstream of their house when there is very little water on. It was a kind coincidence that the Irt rose that afternoon at a similar rate that the previous tide emptied but when the next tide comes in and meets this monumental amount of water coming down, those houses, one of which is my mates, could be in serious trouble, worse still this was going to happen during the night around 2-3am.

Upon safely getting my car through the flooded road adjoining the River Esk south of Muncaster and then heading on over into Ravenglass, I turned on my video camera and as I emerged onto the shoreline, what I saw almost made me drop the camera. Ravenglass estuary should have shrunken back to the thin channels that it typically becomes during spring tide week at low water, however in these current conditions by my approximation, it looked like it does when there is still two hours of water left to run off before low water! and this was actually at low water!! It wouldn’t be long before the tide reversed and came in, impeding the flow from upstream, causing it to find somewhere else to go.

After making my way north to Holmrook village and parking my car in a safe high place, a meager amount of sandbags were eventually dropped off by the council for the houses alongside the river. I worked with my mate and a few other residents present as we attempted to shore up the leaking wall banking the river. In the back of my mind was the image of an already swollen Ravenglass and the tide that was to come within the next few hours. At approximately 2am and the inevitable happened, the torrent of water which was deafening at the time went silent as the tide finally reached the back of the garage below the bridge, the wall was no match for the weight of water behind it and I retreated as the wall collapsed.  My job now as I stood alone in my waders was working to replace the wall with the bags that were scattered and submerged. On the northern side of the village there was a fire engine present which had a team of firemen trying to pump water out of the reading room and surrounding houses, every now and then two firemen would make their way round to assist me in rebuilding the dam that I struggled to maintain.

 At 5am I returned cold and exhausted to my car and made my way home.

The following day was a trip back to Holmrook to see the flood again in the cold light of day and then onto Wastwater to see a lake that had risen by at least 5 ft, approximated by the island at the south-western end being completely submerged and a lake outflow that was once 10ft wide, looking more like the River Thames…!

This week on Friday 22nd June a similar situation arose.  Rain fall totalling 3.5″ in a 24 hour period happened, again during the tail end of spring tides week. I was due to travel to Stafford this weekend to attend the British Fly Fair but my wife was hearing of problems around the Duddon Bridge area from her friends that had written on Facebook upon returning home from their visits to Barrow-in-Furness. The waders are always in the car, so it was time to go pay the River Duddon a visit to check that I could get through in the morning. As I drove eastward I was reminded of the adrenaline that flowed during that november night three years ago.

Upon reaching the River Duddon it was very clear to see that people do not take enough care in times of flood conditions, some cars had tried to speed through the flood water and as a result, some made it, however some had water sucked into the air intake, not good for fine tolerance engines. A polish lad who came down the bottom of Corney fell whilst driving too fast had hit the river flowing across the road and then found his car rendered useless. He was speaking in broken english as he tried in vain to restart his car. After great difficulty in convincing him that his car would end up in the field by the morning if the river continues to rise and he doesn’t get it out of the way, the two of us pushed the Ford Mondeo up the road to higher ground and left it at the side of the road.

After taking some photos on my phone of the current height of the river, I quickly crossed the bridge over to the southernmost bank and waded into the cold water which was flowing down the Ulpha road to take an image of two stranded vehicles, one of which was nearly completely submerged. These vehicles were in water which I would never have guessed would have taken this pathway down the valley. I was reminded of what I saw in 2009 and that the power of flood water is to run the pathway of least resistance and to mow down anything in its way..

One final note to finish off, the image I took of the stranded vehicles whilst wading chest deep in cold water was foolishly uploaded to Twitter when I got home and has to my surprise made its way into a Sunday newspaper! probably selected at ease at the time by some skinny, winkle picker shoe wearing office dweller who sports a complicated waxed haircut whilst he was using his internet access device in a trendy southern wine bar, a million miles away from the extreme conditions which was lashing our county at the time…!


Hey, Ok it was only a picture!

and with nature behaving like it is, maybe life is too short…………..

A proficient fly caster can consciously manipulate and manoeuvre varying lengths of flexible fly line by exerting appropriate forces correctly with a fly rod. When areas of fly line beyond the rod tip experience elevated levels of tensile forces above that of its present state during casting, that section of line moves according to those forces into a new state.

With a beginner, one way I like to describe fly casting is to get them to imagine that the head of the fly line out beyond the rod tip is like a piece of bath plug chain of the same length and the typical objective of a normal overhead cast is to get every ball and link of this chain moving in the direction toward intended target area prior to ceasing to apply force with the rod. If we don’t do this then there is the risk that the last few links/ balls at the very far end of the chain were not fully utilised as available weight during the casting process and as one result, the leader and fly of which is attached may not be directed accuratley at the target.

I often spend time colouring in heads of fly lines every other foot with black magic marker so that it visually breaks the head of the line down into individual sections and from this I can quickly see how much of the line “or how many links”  are being moved correctly. When casting with a mono colour head, the appropriate velocities involved for good casting on any given day can sometimes be difficult to gauge for a beginner, where as I have seen the same caster pick up casting techniques very quickly once they switch to the striped line and were briefly advised on what to look out for.

Bath plug chain is entirely possible to cast in shooting head form, however there is one drawback, born as a result of its construction from solid material, and that is the difficulty on maintaining control of the ball/link nearest the tip, keeping the tension as right as it can be and getting the last ball/link furthest away to behave in the same way. Flexible fly line is easier to move around,  it has a small percentage of stretch and is much longer for the same mass, this sees the timing window for good casting increased and is much more pleasurable to control.

I have for a long time now yearned for any company to somehow develop the technology incorporated into a pair of smart looking shades which would allow us to actually See Line Tension in the form of colour changes occurring in the fly line right throughout the casting process. with the highest typical tensile forces encountered when casting changing the line to bright red and areas of lesser tension “cooling off” through shades of oranges and yellows

With thanks to my friend Paul Arden and his website “Sexyloops” I was alerted to what is known amongst engineers as Transverse Waves which can occur in flexible bodies when in motion. At that very time I come to read and learn of this topic, it was actually these transverse waves that were present and causing me huge problems in my distance casting

As an example the pictures below show what transverse waves look like, and I would like to add a twist in that we will look at them through theoretical tension glasses.

Bear with me, I am no expert at photoshop…!!


In the above image the line which is visible of which I am starting forward against is a 44 gram floating shooting head, which is seemingly tight….. thus through the tension glasses would indicate a bright red glow in the line.


As increased force is applied through rotation of the rod, more area of the line experiences change in tensile forces and acts accordingly,  at this point we have installed a Transverse wave into the line when the tip path deviated from its original course, causing the line to do the same and giving us this buckled appearance. Through the glasses the ideal colour change of optimum red is still extending further back towards the end as we increase the tension in more of the line.

Unfortunately now at this point above the rod has now already straightened once, continued on to Maximum Counter Flex and has returned to straight for the second time, without any further input from me the rod will have ceased applying force to the line at the point in time of Maximum Counter Flex.

As you can see there is still a small percentage of line which did not experience the same tensile forces as that of the line ahead of it, and so because of this the transverse wave that was set into the head did not fully probagate out toward the far end of the line. I  did not apply sufficient force at the right time “or over an appropriate distance” so this small section of line and the leader comes through on its original pathway and hits me on the leg before carrying on to an unsatisfactory distance.

“How do you get all of this shooting head to glow red before the rod achieves MCF on the delivery?” Is just one of many puzzles that wizz through the brain during casting practice, and yet sometimes when I am fishing and using controlled slack line casts I don’t want to tension the whole head as I make a cast, I need those oranges and yellows to be present in my minds eye too…

I think if I ever get these glasses it would open up a whole new dimension to fly casting pleasure, actually seeing tension change with the eye would probably stand right by what we have actually come to learn what it is that we feel when we cast.

Here’s too searing red hot razor loop faces..