The weather has cooled and the trout fishing slowed, so it's the time of year to reflect a little and look forward to the next season. Slot in the diary what weekends and holidays will be set aside for some fishing, it's great to do it early so one has these times to look forward to.
There are many things to catch up on through the winter months. Check those fly boxes for old fallen apart flies that have caught too many fish and toss them out. Flies with rusty hooks should be discarded as these will surely loose you that trophy fish. Replace the favourite flies with new ones, it's never good to go for your favourite fly and the compartment is empty.
Fly lines should be checked carefully for damage and if like mine, they need some tender loving care with a good clean.
Check the connection knot between the fly line and backing in case you connect with that monster trout and it takes off for a long run. Put a new leader on for a quick start next season. Reels also need to be cleaned and oiled. Check rods for any damage, eyes and bindings are all worth a look. Give the cork handle a clean. It's nice to start the new season with clean gear.
Waders seem to get neglected, so check for holes and mend. The best way to find any leakages is to fill them with water, mark the area where the leak is found, dry waders out and mend with appropriate glue for the type of waders you have.
In the off season it's important for me to have the time to tie some flies and have a look at anything new that might have become available. I was excited the other day when visiting my local fly fishing shop to be shown some new capes from Whiting Farms.
Firstly there is the Herbert Miner Hen Hackle, these hen capes have rarely been seen before. They have exceptional feathers for tying wet flies. The feathers are wide, long, very dense and unequalled in softness, so any fly tied with these feathers will have movement. The range comes in many natural colours of ginger, brown, cream and dun shades to name a few. The feathers could be used for matuka's, nymph legs, wing cases, hackle collars on trout and saltwater flies.
The Brahma Hen cape if I hadn't known differently it could have been mistaken for a grey partridge cape; the feather markings are very similar. The feathers can be used for many wet flies or if required, a turn or two of a mottled hackle in front of a main hackle as in a dry march brown, just to give that lovely leggy look. The cape comes in mottled grey but could be dyed in many shades.
The cape that really took my eye was the Whiting Genetic Spey Hackle; these feathers are nothing short of amazing. Spey and Dee flies need a unique feather to create their very swept back style. The Spey Cock from the Spey River Valley in Scotland provided the feathers required for these unique flies, but by the early 20th century the number of birds dwindled so fly tyers had to look further afield. The Heron species of bird was used but they became highly protected so many substitutes were used. By the mid 1990's the ever creative Tom Whiting of Whiting Farms decided it was time to try and breed a line of fowl good enough to replace the Spey Cock and Heron feathers. The development of this special hackle took some years. The feathers on these birds had to have extra long barbs, no webbing between the barbs, very good density and no brittleness for easy tying. I really must say in all my years of fly tying I have not seen feathers like these.
The capes will come in white which are ideal for dying, there will also be unusual feather colours and patterns for the creative tyer.
Beside the rooster capes which have the largest and longest feathers, there will be rooster saddles, hen capes, hen saddles and rooster breast pelt with chickabou. All the above mentioned capes have various size feathers to assist in tying carious size flies.