ONE FLY FESTIVAL
The One Fly Festival is a celebration of everything that is great about fly fishing with two days that mark the opening of a new season on the chalkstreams in late April. Do join us for the Iron Man Fly Tying Challenge, a film and the River Test One Fly. Here is my report of how we all fared in 2018:
“There are not many things that keep me awake at night but the draw for the One Fly does. There was a time when it was all very relaxed. On the Saturday prior to the competition we gather for the Guides briefing and way back when we started on 2008 we used to draw both the beats for the guides and the contestants. How we would laugh and josh as the names came out of the hat, safe in the knowledge that any snafu could be rectified away from public gaze.
Now in this age of transparency (dreadful word) and in a bid to notch up the drama, it was decided that we would hold the contestant draw on the morning of the One Fly itself. Oh, how I live in fear of it going wrong. In 2016 I peered into the hat to pull out the 36th and last name to see nothing. Looking up I saw 72 expectant faces eager for the starting gun. Piers Morgan's Stockbridge Christmas lights disaster had nothing on this, though I am probably one of the few to feel his pain. Back in the hat I ran my finger under the sweatband that dislodged the final bit of paper. Crisis averted. This year, I am happy to say, no such heart-stopping moments as the draw dodged the first of many heavy showers that were to typify the day.
This wasn't going to be an easy year. We have had a wet, wet winter and I haven't seen the chalkstream aquifers pumping water this high and fast since the floods of 2013/14. In some respects it is actually more pronounced. Back in 2014 the volumes were receding by April; this year they were still on an upward curve though the peak is now past. So anyone on the lower beats would have to cope with lots of water, fish still hiding out and in some cases poor clarity. But that is the challenge of the One Fly; you draw your beat and you adapt accordingly. And plenty adapted very well.
Top billing is really shared by Jason Askey-Wood and Grant Harrower, though Jason shaded Grant to the overall title by just 10 points, which is simply the difference of one fish being one inch longer. Or in Grant's case hanging onto his fly (worth 75 points) which he lost with still ninety minutes to go. But hey, that's why we call it the One Fly. Regardless it was a pretty amazing fishing day by both of them with 41 fish between them, Jason with 18 on the River Kennet at Benham Estate and Grant on The Greyhound beat catching 23. In all the three dozen anglers caught 217 fish between them, all of which were released, with everyone bar three catching at least one fish. The biggest fish of the day was by the guide/fisher combo of Michael Jacobsen and Kris Kent who landed a monster 24" brown on the Orvis Ginger Beer beat at Kimbridge.
It was a great day. We came. We fished. We got wet. And we marked the start of a new chalkstream season, in the course of which we raised over £2,500 for the Alex Lewis Trust. In ending I have to give special mention to the winning Guide Gary Allen to accompanied Jason Askey- Wood, donating his £500 winning cheque to be split equally between the Alex Lewis Trust and another cause close to the heart of his family. Thank you Gary.”
IRON MAN FLY TYING CHALLENGE – 6pm April 23rd 2020
In association with Orvis this competition challenges all-comers to create the perfect fly within 15 minutes, but with a twist. The contestants are given no prior knowledge of the fly-tying materials. At the sound of the bell each is given an identical bag of fur, feathers, dubbing, flashy materials and hooks. What and how they tie is up to them, the outcome only limited by their skill, imagination and the ticking down of the clock. Just to spice up the challenge even more, a mystery material is given to each contestant half way through the first round. This must be included somewhere in the finished fly! When time is up luminaries from the fly tying industry will judge the flies, eliminating all but three of the contestants who go forward to compete in a winner-takes-all tie-off the same evening.
Come along and enjoy the spectacle - entry is free. Orvis Store, High Street, Stockbridge, Hampshire, S020 6HB from 6-7pm. To enter or for more details email Simon Cooper.
2018 Big Fish winners
RIVER TEST ONE FLY – April 24th 2020
The River Test One Fly is hosted by kind invitation of Lucy Townsend and all the team at The Greyhound on the Test in Stockbridge. The One Fly is open to all-comers as teams of three or individuals. The fishing day runs from 10am-4pm, with a welcome breakfast and beat draw taking place at The Greyhound at 8.15am with the prizes handed out over tea at 5.30pm. All fish are released and all competitors are accompanied by a Fishing Guide who acts as guide, scorer and confidante.
for the entry form.
The idea for the River Test One Fly was conceived by Fishing Breaks founder Simon Cooper having competed in the American equivalent since 2005. Though he has never come close to winning, every year Simon makes the 5,000 mile trek to Wyoming with ever increasing excitement. For this is a contest that pits man against man and fish against fly – it is an unequal contest as the trout always win, but you can share the passion of one of the world’s truly great fly fishing events which is now held in England, the home of fly fishing.
But the clue to the difference to other fly fishing tournaments is in the name - the One Fly is exactly that – at 10am every competitor selects and ties on the fly that must last all day – lose it and you’re out! Points are awarded on a sliding scale according to the number and length of fish caught. There are no cash prizes – just the glory and kudos of winning.
Watch the videos from 2015, 2014, 2013.
Date of competition: April 24th 2020
Entries close: December 31st 2019
Individual entries will be allocated a team by the organiser. Any special requests will be fulfilled if possible. For team entries names may be changed/left open until 28 days prior to the competition. The cost of entry is £350/person. The organiser will contact you for payment.
The River Test One Fly could not happen without the help of a great many people - apologies to anyone accidentally omitted.
Avon Springs – Barrie Bawden
Click here to open PDF of the rules and scoring
River Test One Fly HQ