My first fish...
...and still enjoying it.
About Lee Watts
At the age of around 5, my father first took me fishing on the river Usk near Sennybridge. I caught my first trout which happened to be no bigger than 7” on a ledgered worm. I have fished ever since that day, firstly for trout on the river Dulais and then on the river Neath during my early teens using fly, worm and spinner..
It is from these early years of learning to fly fish, being taught by my father in the field behind my house that is at the root of my aspirations as a fly fishing and casting instructor. I can remember asking my dad why there was so much fly line left wound on the reel after a long cast! I think I fished well into my 20s before I ever saw someone cast a full 90ft line out of the tip.
With the popularity of the Internet, I was able to see people casting vast distances with a fly rod through sites such as Sexyloops. Whilst floundering for a while trying to view large casting video clips through a basic dial up connection, and trying to match what was happening on the screen with the written instruction I decided to take formal lessons with an AAPGAI instructor. This was the catalyst for letting me understand what was happening on the computer screen and relating the virtual rod movements to the movements I was making under the supervision of my casting instructor.
Whilst it took me a long time to make small improvements from books and the Internet, once I started to receive formal casting instruction, progress was quick and the learning curve steep.
For me, trying to learn to cast long distances and efficiently from a book, internet site or video simply didn't work on its own. Being shown first had from an instructor what I was doing wrong and how to correct my mistakes was my personal eureka moment.
Once I was comfortable in the knowledge that what I was practicing was correct I continued to cast regularly giving me the confidence to compete at national level at the BFCC distance championships. Currently my passion is trying to winkle out more fishable water from my overgrown and high-banked trout beats by using single-handed rod spey casting techniques. If I am honest, these are far more useful in my day-to-day fishing than being able to cast 100ft.
Over the last 10 years I have predominately fished for trout and grayling. My favorite fishing would have to be for wild trout in the early spring and early summer evenings along with grayling in the late summer and autumn months.
As my interest in fly-casting has evolved, I have become increasingly aware that if my casting is poor, then so is my experience of my days fishing. Although I still love to Czech nymph in certain situations, I would rather drift a fly through a lie whenever possible. Sometimes the challenge is just as much to present a fly under adverse conditions (wind, trees, strange currents, unwieldy flies, sunken lines etc) as it is to hook the fish.
I live within 15mins of the river Neath and regularly fish it along with the rivers Usk, Wye and Tywi. I also fish the Llyns and reservoirs of Brecon Beacons National Park.
In the last couple of seasons I have enjoyed the challenge of fishing the estuaries and shoreline for saltwater species with the fly. My trips abroad have seen me fly fish in various countries and places including Lapland, Iceland, New Zealand and Scotland.