“if I only had one fly” – Steffan Jones

Steffan and I both hail from West Wales. In Steffan’s case he is based in the town of Llandysul, around which flows the wonderful River Teifi. His interests are many and varied and interestingly have evolved from his inability to draw or paint and failure to play a musical instrument. This has led him to Photography and DJ’ing as outlets for his obvious creative streak.

“I can capture something with a lens that I would not be able to with a
canvas and brush – well, I probably could, but it would bear no resemblance
to the subject!”

And his DJ’ing has taken him as far afield as Hong Kong and Argentina.

He fly fishes extensively both locally and various Worldwide destinations for trout, grayling and salmon. However, his first love, like many Welshman is fishing for (sewin) sea run brown trout – particularly at night.

On many winter days you can find him, shotgun in hand, working his Cocker Spaniels. Which provides a fine selection of fly tying materials as well as food for the pot. Which is not a bad thing as nothing goes to waste.

His first introduction to our sport was via a long established youth scheme arranged by the Llandysul Angling Association (www.fishing-in-wales.co.uk) that gives free tuition to kids each year as an introduction to fly fishing and fly tying. Indeed his tutor, a local man called Peter Jones is still giving lessons to this day – some 25 years after the young Steffan passed through his class.

” I owe him a lot and he is also the gent that started me off sea trout fishing many moons ago” says Steffan.

Steffan is unusual in that although highly educated to MSc level, he chose to try his hand at earning a living from fly fishing knowing he had his qualifications to fall back on. And many years later has still no need to blow the dust off his degrees.

He now guides professionally throughout West Wales http://www.anglingworldwide.com and also arranges fishing holidays worldwide for http://www.aardvarkmcleod.com.

“The industry has given me some magical experiences and taken me to locations that I could not dream of affording to travel to, for that I am eternally grateful and long may it continue…”

Steffan has lot of ‘go-to’ patterns, but they tend to have one thing in common; they utilise a minimum amount of ingredients and can be tied quickly. A man after my own heart.

“Fly casting and fly tying to me are both enjoyable aspects of the sport, but
they are very much a means to end and that end being fishing. I’d rather
spend time on the water than at the tying desk, so the flies need to be
quick, but ultimately practical and fit for purpose”

His favourite sea trout fly is a pattern he devised some 15 years or so ago named the Daioni (Dye-ow-nee) It is specifically designed as a dropper pattern and is very effective, especially in the latter half of the season.

“daioni” is a Welsh word that translates to mean ‘to do you good’ or ‘goodness’.

The Daioni

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Hook: Partridge streamer (D4AF) size 6 or 8
Thread: Veevus 8/0 black
Body: medium silver holographic tinsel
Rib: silver wire
Body hackle: white cock hackle, palmered
Wing: black squirrel
Head hackle: Nature’s spirit grizzly collaring hackle in flu.blue

“One of the key aspects of night fishing in my eyes is silhouette and profile. Whereas the majority of patterns give a pretty streamlined presentation, this patterns keeps it ‘bulk’ and, therefore, presents a thicker and stronger silhouette. It is also fantastic fun to fish this on a full floater in the height of the summer, when it fishes just subsurface and the takes can be pretty explosive on it. Anyway, most certainly a pattern that I would never be without.”

I asked Steffan if he had any advise for novice tiers……….

“Thread control! Why do five wraps when two or three will suffice? It is also
a bit like juggling (not that I can juggle, I hasten to add) but you need to
be able to keep two balls in the air before you add the third. Don’t run
before you can walk and really concentrate on the basics. If you can master
some simple flies first (i.e. the analogy of keeping two balls in the air)
then that is key, then move on (add the third ball), develop and master new
patterns and techniques. Do not be afraid of asking for criticism, but then
take it well when it is received – the last thing you want and need is false
praise as you will not advance from that”

Steffan with a near 20b Sea Trout that took a Bunny pattern in Argentina.

Steffan Jones
Steffan Jones

Many thanks Steffan, It was a pleasure talking with you.

Paul Slaney

I should give this up, wrapping bits of fluff around a hook for fun just can’t be normal.

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No Jungle Cock were harmed making this fly

For sea trout or sewin as we call them around here (sea run browns) you cant really get better than a fly that’s black and silver. I’m prepared to bet that most Sewin fishers have something similar in their box.

Tie this simple fly in a range of sizes from 2-12 on single hooks, double hooks, metal tubes, plastic tubes, waddington shanks, whatever.. And you’ll have a great box of fishing flies season round.

The wing can be squirrel, bear, bucktail. fox or as in this case, possum. Or indeed a mix. The flash is optional, best tie it in as you can always take it off if its too bright on the night. I’ve seen guys cut Jungle cock off Sewin flies because they think its too much.

While we are on that subject, you can see that no Jungle Cock were harmed in the making of this fly. Its not that I don’t like it – but so many of these flies end up in trees whilst fly fishing at night. its just too damn expensive!

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A trio of black and silver sea trout lures, all size 6, tied on Partridge Bomber hooks.

Blacker than a witches heart

It only took an afternoon find the big fish! I’d searched the beat and run a Copper Mepps through its hidey hole. From my position on a high bank, I’d observed a fish lazily following my offering only to turn away at the last second. I logged it away, Salmon or Sea Trout I couldn’t tell, but it was was a good one and I knew exactly where it lay.

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Where the big ones live

There were 3 other big fish I’d marked in the area. In another pool downstream, an almighty splash in the middle of the night before had given one away. The other two however, were in a magnificent pool that marked the no mans land between ours and another beat downstream. Saved for desperation stakes, but it’s just not “cricket” to venture onto someone else’s water, even if there is a fine dividing line.

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No mans land

We’d enjoyed a late dinner and a few glasses of wine but the evening was passing slowly. Late night TV was blearing from the other room. The guys had got addicted to “Bitchin Kitchen”. I don’t think they were interested in the recipes, but they had been away for a few days and she was very easy on the eye.

I got my head down and stole an hours shut eye.

It must have been around midnight when we finally got going. The full moon that had been threatening us for the last few nights was finally with us. I’d been preying for cloud cover but as we walked down through the fields our shadows followed us as if it was broad daylight.

imageShadows in the moonlight

I’ve been out on better nights, but the boys had traveled a long way for this chance.

The river was quiet, nothing moving, dew already fully formed in the long grass! The chance of a river mist increasing by the second, something else to add to the list of no-no’s that plague your chances of a Sewin.

No need for lights, we found our way upstream to the pool with the big fish and the tree lined north bank. There would be a shadow there. Indian file, the loudest noise an owl screeching somewhere in the distance and the only visible light at the porch of our cottage.

You see? these fish like it blacker than a witches heart. It’s a fine time to fish and an intense experience. You have to experience it to understand how guys can get addicted to this.
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Blacker than a witches heart

And this was a private beat in the Tiefi valley in high season, a Mecca for us kind of guys.

The night was getting cold but the mist hadn’t quite formed as Josh threw his first cast with a black and silver fly. He let it swing over pool whilst I found a comfortable spot in the bushes. I sat back to watch, pulled up my hood, smoked a cigarette and promptly drifted off into a deep sleep.

I don’t know how long I was there before a loud shout of “Fish On!” had the same effect as a bucket of water thrown in my face. First instinct was to light the scene and I saw Josh’ rod bend deep into the butt, the fish splashing heavily in the surface. The sound, hugely magnified by the still night and the depth of the pool.

This was the fish of a lifetime! Please! Please! Don’t let it get away!

Jesus Christ! I left the net in the cottage! Luckily the fish swam towards Josh and as much as I wish I could regale you with a tale of a long and heroic fight. My first instinct was to jump in the water and make a grab for it. My hands cradled around her belly and the wrist of the big square tail and we had her.

It was only then, I realised the other two guys had walked upstream in time to witness the whole event and luckily, between us, we found a camera and tape measure. As our lamps lit the scene with an artificial glow, I had to look twice, between the camera flashes, to confirm that it actually read 82cms, a touch over 32 inches.

IMGP2706Enough said

It took Josh a few moments for it to sink in. He was on his knees cradling the fish but I had to ask him the question. Around here, there are no rules other than the fish was his to with what he wished.

“Take her or let her go mate”? I asked gently.

The struggle was obvious in his eyes, a moment of darkness, quickly suppressed as he stepped into the water and sent her on her way. A powerful flick of that big tail and our lights lost her in the depths. Good man!

As Josh quite aptly summed up the whole event. “Mission accomplished!”

imageThe way back home