Straight from the Pros - David Hemphill's Three Hot Tips
David started fly fishing as a young boy with his late father on the waters of the Snowy Mountains and developed a deep love for the sport which has become an addiction. This addiction has led him to competitive fly fishing firstly in NSW and later to most other states in Australia. His achievements include proudly representing Australia at International level at World team and Commonwealth team level and is keenly looking forward to the next world championships being held in Tasmania. Individually David has been NSW state champion and runner up, has placed 3rd and 4th respectively in the last two Nationals in Tasmania. David is honoured to be part of the 2019 Australian fly fishing team.
David’s hot tips on becoming a better fly angler are:
1. Sinking lines can be a real problem for some anglers due to their tendency to knot up and tangle into the best knots you can imagine. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a line in the heat of competition that keeps tangling and fouling up on the stripping guide. It's costly in fish numbers to be always unknotting and detangling a fly line when you should be concentrating on catching fish. A few simple tips can all but eliminate those frustrating tangles.
Always keep the line wet. Sure, it gets wet when it’s in the water but after it retrieved it starts to dry, and dry fly lines tangle a lot. The line has a tendency to stick to itself when it's dry and when lines are wet, they are a lot slicker and don’t tend to stick or grab on itself. There are a few simple ways to keep the line wet. Stripping your line onto a wet towel in the bottom of the boat greatly reduces line tangling. To keep the towel wet soak it over the side before the session starts and keep it wet the whole session by pouring water onto the towel.
You can also keep the line wet by using a sports drink bottle and squirting it onto the line when it’s on the floor of the boat on a towel or even if it’s just lying on the deck. Keeping it wet is so important to reduce tangles. Or my favourite is to strip into a stripping basket that can hold water in the bottom, either a simple dish or bucket or one made specifically for the job with fingers or cones in it, really makes a huge difference. A good stripping basket can make your session a whole lot more pleasurable and most importantly productive.
2. Competition Fly Fishing like most sports preparation is so important. The old saying “Poor Preparation equals P*ss Poor Performance“ rings true in every sense and aspect in competition fly fishing. Not just research and preparation of the location and venue of the comp, but preparation of your equipment, flies, leaders, clothing and anything else that you may need or use in your session must be as good as you can possibly make it before the beginning of each and every session. Over the years I’ve seen to many anglers of all ability’s trying to make running repairs to their equipment during a session, and in doing so wasting valuable fishing time! Poorly maintained tackle i.e. reels that don’t work properly, rods with faulty components, nets that aren’t up to the job, knotted up and patched up leaders, fly lines that are well past there used by date with coating missing in spots and shoddy line to leader connections are a few things that cost people fish and placings in the end of the day.
Doing all you can to prepare well before a competition is time well spent. Making leaders and freeing up stuck reels isn’t a job to be done during steaming time in a boat that’s rocking around. Getting all this preparation work done at home days or weeks before a comp leaves comps for putting in your best fishing performance and results.
3. Sinking lines are essential in competition fly fishing, you have to be ready for whatever situation is presented to you in your session, so most anglers carry sinking lines to be prepared for when the fish are not on the surface. Casting a sinking line out and just retrieving as soon as the line lands is what most anglers do and that works but there are more effective ways to use sinking lines. People that count their lines down to a specific depth are generally the ones getting the most fish, because they are fishing at a known depth. For instance if you are getting takes on a di 3 sinking line on a count of 15, you can reproduce that same depth each cast by using the same sink rate line and the same count down of 15 . Same for any other sub surface line from the slowest of intermediates to the fastest sinking lines you can get.
A countdown of 10 with a di 3 will fish shallower than the same countdown with a di 7. If you find fish higher in the water column just count your line down to the depth required and retrieve, your flies should be at the required depth to get some attention. It takes a bit of discipline to always count your lines down but after a little while it becomes second nature. It’s well worth the effort and should result in more consistent results.