Skues, What flies would you recommend for the Devonshire Avon?"
George Edward MacKenzie Skues is famous for developing nymph fishing on chalk streams. A gentle man who gave the self-effacing title "Minor Tactics of the Chalk Stream" to his ground breaking book published in 1910 that challenged the prevailing view that the angler should only cast to rising trout and only use a dry fly floating on the surface of the water to represent an emerged dun.
Skues pointed out that trout do not feed exclusively on duns floating on the surface. Nowhere is this more true than on freestone rivers like the Devonshire Avon where days can pass without seeing a floating dun. Our trout probably do most of their feeding on the bottom, or mid-water where they capture ascending nymphs. Our 'rising' fish may in fact be taking nymphs that are in the process of breaking through the barrier between air and water and shedding their exoskeleton to emerge as a dun.
Therefore Skues' tactics are ideal for the conditions we face.
In 1945 Skues wrote to a Mr. S. Roberts of Exeter describing four flies he had recommended for use on the Devonshire Avon
7th February, 1945."The flies I tied for my friend Col. Jesse to use on the little Devonshire Avon were all rather large, being on No. 2 Carlisle round bend down-eyed pattern [hook] and comprised the following:
I. Lightish dun cock's hackle and whisks.
Body hare's poll.
2. Rusty blue cock's hackle and whisks.
Body crimson seal's fur.
Rib gold wire.
3. Rusty blue cock's hackle and whisks.
Body 3 strands of pheasant tail.
Rib gold wire.
4. Tup's Indispensable.
For that water he never seemed to want any others. I tied them as a guess as likely to suit that tumbling water and he did well with them all, particularly No. I. "
( Extract from "Angling Letters of GEM Skues", Editd by CF Walker, published by Adam and Charles Black, London, 1975
A scholarly discussion of the complexities of hook sizes can be found here )
Skues' recommendations are just as successful today. The Tups Indispensable is truly indispensable for catching trout and sea trout during the day.