Fishing The French Leader – Alex’s First Fish

Bright hot sun is only good for solar powered wives, or so I thought, but our brand new recruit angler Alex and a world championship guide proved me wrong!

Last weekend I found myself fishing the beautiful River Wye in Mid/South Wales. Now if you have not fished this river you need to – it is STUNNING.

Unexpected Beach Weather

Having spent many years travelling to Wales to race downhill mountain bikes, I was expecting the weather to be wet, typically VERY wet. Tough for riding, but great for fishing. So I was a bit surprised and annoyed to find that the days booked for fishing with Alex and myself had all the hallmarks of a beach holiday, blistering sun, and clear skies. Summary: expect no fish, but this turned out to be a very wrong assumption.

Our World-Record Holding Guide

Arriving at the river mid-morning, I headed off to the tail of an enormous pool as I could see the odd bit of activity, meanwhile Alex targeted the thick squirley water at the head under Hywel Morgan’s watchful gaze. Hywel was our guide for the day and is also one of the Finygo pro anglers, so someone you will be seeing much more of in the coming months. He’s a world record-holding fly fisherman, having cast successfully 64 rods at the same time (he has spades for hands).

A Ridiculous Grin

As I worked myself upstream, Alex hooked into a fish. Alex started fishing in January and had yet to catch a fish, so this was a pretty momentous occasion. Here we were, in terrible conditions, fishing for wild Grayling and she has a fish. What’s more, she has a fish BEFORE ME!!! I waded upstream as fast as I could to see the fish, secretly hoping it was something small. What I found was a pristine ¾ lbs Grayling and Alex with a ridiculous grin. What a result! Not many people get something of this quality for their first fish!

French Leader Fishing

With the fish returned, I continued to fish below Alex in the deeper water for about 1.5 hours with an attractor and nymph rig, with little to excite me at all. At this point Hywel suggested I learn a new technique and passed me along 10ft 3wt rod with a ‘French Leader’ setup, the same setup that Alex was using. It was like somebody flicked a switch, the transformation was immediate and I had a take within 5 minutes, effectively on the first cast I got right with the new rig. 5 minutes after that, another fish, by the end of the day I ended up banking 5 fish in total, and lost 3 or 4 besides!

Who’s Buying

This hot blistering day turned out to be almost perfect for two reasons. Firstly, I learned a killer new tactic which I will reuse aggressively. Secondly and most importantly, Alex is no longer a learner, having caught her first fish, and thus I was able to claim my winnings at the bar later for having caught the most fish! However, given Alex’s amazing start, in the future I may end up buying the drinks a little more often than I would like!

Tight lines, Chris

Harold

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