Adam Parsonage equips himself for early outings on the chalkstreams by tying his CdC Danica, Gold-head Pheasant Tail and Peeping Caddis
Fishing the Test during the early season I’m hoping for clear, dry and calm. Last year during March, the weather was relatively balmy which was pretty much ideal. When the weather is calm my first choice is an 8ft 6in full-flex rod, #5 floating line, 9ft tapered leader with a 4lb tippet – mostly fluorocarbon.) To be fully kitted out with good polarised sunglasses almost goes without saying.
If the wind gets up, I reach for more gutsy mid-flex rod. During the earliest months chalkstreams are at maximum water height, weed has barely started to grow and insect life is mostly sub-surface. Water clarity is not very good, but trout may still come to a dry. I don’t expect too many rising fish, those that do are probably small grayling.
I tend to start with a dry fly, prospecting over fish-holding spots and likely lies, under trees, deeper holes – trying to draw fish up. The CdC Danica is ideal for this type of fishing; a Klinkhamer Special may seem like a more obvious choice, and it does take its share, but I’ve fished both on the Test and a CdC Danica simply raised more fish.
If nothing comes to a dry, it’s time for a nymph; cast a single Gold-head Pheasant Tail upstream at about 45 degrees and let it tumble down. Again, I’m working likely lies, but I’ll explore the river by working from the near bank across stream.
Then comes the Peeping Caddis, my ‘get out of jail’ fly. Fish it dead drift or Czech style or hang it or even static – which means it can fish any type of water, fast or slow. One of those flies that may cause traditional chalkstream anglers to shake their heads, but river keepers often have a few tucked away.