British Shooting Show Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire 13 -15 Feb 2015

Not long now! The British Shooting Show is now firmly established as the UK’s premier public showcase and launch pad for major International gun manufacturers, gun retailers and shooting accessory suppliers. So, with thousands of guns for sale, fantastic “Show only” offers and the unique opportunity to be the first to see and evaluate all that’s new, the British Shooting Show is the place to be.

And we (Sporting Gun, Shooting Times and Shooting Gazette) will or course be there. Come and see us in the new Hall 5 (between Halls 1 and 3) – meet the editors and if you are not yet a subscriber then take advantage of our fantastic subscription offer … and we might even have a little suprise waiting for you!

For information and to buy your tickets, click on the image below or call the Ticket Hotline on 01258 858448.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Fly Fishing Casting Clinic

Neil Keep Fly Fishing

Neil Keep Fly Fishing

Burton Springs Casting Clinic Day

Sunday 9th March 2014 from 10.00 a.m. To 4.00 p.m.

Burton Springs Fishery, Burton, Bridgwater, Somerset.TA5 1QB. Tel: 01278 732135

Get an early season fly casting tune up to set you on your way for the season ahead.

Also there will be a range of tackle to browse and try on the day from Marryat rods, Vosseler reels, Varivas fly lines and leaders and if fly tying is your thing the latest Partridge hooks.

This event is open to all and is FREE to anglers buying a fishing permit on the day or to anyone who is not fishing there will be a £5 charge payable to the fishery.

Each one to one casting session will last for 25 minutes and can be tailored for any aspect of casting you wish, whether it be ironing out any faults you have, coping with casting in different winds or maybe learning the basics of a new cast.

Places are strictly limited so please contact the fishery to register your interest and book a time slot.

Time slots will run every half hour starting at 10.00 a.m. and finishing at 4.00 p.m.

Hope to see you there!

Neil Keep

Fishing Matters Pro Guide.

Exmoor Wilderness Fly Fishing Weekend 16th – 18th May 2014

River Fly Fishing

A weekend of camping and fly fishing on some of Exmoor’s wild rivers surrounded by stunning scenery.

Join Neil Keep and rivers expert Lewis Hendrie, a member the England European Rivers fly fishing team and local guide, for a weekend of guided fly fishing on some truly wild rivers and streams.

This course is suitable for a river novice or a more experienced fly angler wishing to learn some more skills and techniques. There will be an element of walking over the weekend (around 30 minutes to one of the beats) so you will need to be reasonably fit, although the walking is usually overshadowed by the stunning surrounding scenery!

The weekend will start by meeting up at the camp site around 3.00pm on the Friday, set up camp and then a meal around the camp fire with plenty of fishy banter!

After breakfast on the second day we depart for the water where you will spend the day catching some truly beautiful wild brown trout whilst learning some new river skills. At the end of day it’s back to camp for some food and an evening around the camp fire.

Breakfast on Sunday will be followed by packing up camp before making our way to a different river and fishing until 3.00 pm. We will all meet up after the fishing for a quick debrief and to say our goodbyes.

Cost for the weekend will be £225.00 per person.

All camping fees, fishing permits, food and guiding fees are included in the cost. All you need to do is to bring a tent, sleeping bag and a chair to sit around the fire on! Any tackle you need can be supplied along with waders although please feel free to bring your own if you have any.

To reserve a place a deposit of £75 is required, or you may pay the full amount if you wish at the time of booking. Any balance must be paid by 14 days before the course date.

As this is a river course, it will be subject to cancellation due to weather conditions, so please bear this in mind, although a full refund will be given in this event.

Contact: 01761 472656 or 07821647055

Pike Leaders – Courtesy of Neil Keep


Respected UK fly fishing expert, Neil Keep has kindly agreed to BCS sharing his blog comments and website information. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

As the waters are up and coloured at the moment, tying up some new pike leaders is the order of the day.

Pike leaders

I have been using the Partridge Pike Tech leader wire which is manufactured from nylon coated 19 strand stainless steel wire. The wire is very flexible, kink resistant and easy to knot which makes things easy when it comes to attaching it to the end of a tapered leader at one end and to a snap link  it at the other.

pike leaders

For those of you that don’t fancy making your own leaders, Partridge produce Pike Tech ready tied leaders with a loop for a simple connection to the loop on the end of your fly line, perfect for a bit of winter piking!

An assortment of some of our favourite photos from 2014

Polo In The UK Explained – Courtesy of the Guards Polo Club Website

Polo at the Guards Polo Club

Polo at the Guards Polo Club

Polo is an exciting game to play and to spectate yet it has a relatively small following worldwide compared to other equestrian sports.

Polo has its roots in the UK and was spread to the far four corners of the world as the British Empire grew.

The following link will take you to the excellent homepage of the Guards Polo Club where the sport as it is played in the UK is explained in fabulous detail.

Fly Fishing the Rutland Water over Easter – Courtesy of Dave Martin at Go Fly Fishing UK

A report from last year which may give you some hints of where to head this Easter for a few days fine fishing in the North.

Although I’m mainly a river fly fisher I do like to try for stillwater Trout from time to time.  A family holiday over Easter took me to Rutland and I couldn’t let the opportunity pass without fishing Rutland Water.  I was so impressed with it on my first session (on Easter Saturday) that I decided to go again yesterday (Tuesday).

I had fished it from a boat one afternoon a few years back and I remembered it as being a very scenic lake with very hard fighting Rainbows.  Well my visit over Easter reinforced my previous impressions but I also found out that there are plenty of Browns in there too.  This one is about 3lbs and caught at 10.30 on Tuesday.Rutland Brownie

Although it is a very large lake Rutland Water has so many bankside features that I had no problem finding interesting places to fish….and to catch fish!  Rutland Water Map

I fished both sessions from the bank and yesterday I had half a mile of bank (at Normanton) to myself and there were obviously plenty of fish present.  I had been recommended to fish large Buzzers, which I did most of the time.  But my best fish – a grown on Brown of 4lb 3oz – came to a small Diawl Bach.Rutland Brown Trout

Although Rutland Water attracts many visitors to walk, cycle, sail, bird watch (I saw Ospreys), etc. it is very fisherman friendly.  The staff in the Normanton Fishing Lodge were very friendly and helpful and car access is allowed to large amounts of the lakeside.  Over Easter the wind switched round from a stiff north easterly to a lighter south westerly but there was always plenty of good places to fish out of the wind and I never had to walk far from the car.  You are allowed to wade and I had my waders in the car but I never put them on as I was always able to find places where I could cast into a fish holding depth without getting my feet wet.

I like to fish dry fly but although there were large numbers of buzzers hatching very little showed at the surface.  Just the odd one so you knew that there were fish there but not enough to make me think I should try a dry.  On Easter Monday I was walking with the family rather than fishing and I saw my first Hawthorn flies of the year.  An alternative recommended technique is to fish a Black (and green) Taddy on a long (15’) leader with a slow figure of eight retrieve.  I was enjoying my buzzer fishing so I didn’t try this.

Rutland Rainbow On

Rutland Rainbow Trout

Just under half of the fish I caught were Browns, some bright silver like Sea Trout.  One chap I spoke to at Green Bank on the Hambleton peninsular had caught five Browns to just one Rainbow.  Another caught a 4lb 4oz grown on Rainbow.  Last year the fishery Rainbow record was beaten with a massive fish of 17lb 3oz.

So give it a try.  Maybe take your partner or family to the area for a weekend or short break.  There is certainly no shortage of things for them to do while you have some great fishing in great scenery.  I particularly like large wild lakes.  Loch Lomond is my favourite and I love Ullswater but I have been very impressed by my two visits to Rutland Water.    

Sporting Clays Highest Shots – Courtesy of Gun Digest

Of all the shots in sporting clays, the tower station might be the most maddening.

Like a smug Canada goose on a pass shot, the clay nearly scraps the stratosphere and leaves shooters busting nothing but the wide blue yonder. There is hope, however, at grasping the tricky mechanics it takes to make this a smooth shot.

Gil Ash gives some solid tips on just this subject in the above video produced by the National Shooting Sports Association. The central thrust the owner of OSP Shooting School gets at is adjusting grip and stance to get a fast and solid lead on the clays.

Ash basically advocates narrowing each to facilitate faster shouldering and better balance when in the shadow of the tower. It appears to be fairly logical advice, giving more flexibility to the shooter to quickly and accurately get a lead on the clay.

Of course, and as always, you’ll have to watch the video to learn the finer points of his lesson.

UK Fly Fishing – Stealth & Presentation – Courtesy of Colin Alexander of Go Fly Fishing UK

Our excellent chalk streams guide Colin Alexander reports:

Recently I guided a valued repeat client, Gordon, on the River Itchen below Winchester. The river was fresh from a weed-cut and had the wonderful clarity expected of a chalk stream. The fish were evident in a few key runs but with very little hatching early in the day they were not giving their position away lightly. On a wading beat it is all too easy to suddenly spook fish from near your feet which could have been your target if you had seen them that fraction earlier.

The first tactic is to seek your fish in these conditions from the bankside cover initially and spend time watching the fish. If they are not rising to hatched or hatching insects it doesn’t mean they are  not feeding. Often the level of activity with the tail will show you whether a fish is feeding or likely to feed on your fly and if you wait long enough you will likely see the trout move to intercept an emerging insect which is seeking to swim to the surface and fly off. Sometimes it is absolutely obvious as the trout will repeat a movement to one side or other and rise a degree in the water as it feeds. Sometimes the feeding is more subtle and spaced between periods of activity. In other words it will feed, have a rest, and then choose it’s next meal at leisure.

In a pool of about four feet deep, in the clear water, Gordon and I could see a trout laying deep and clearly feeding. We targeted the fish initially with the dry fly, hoping for a spectacular rise from the depths, but the fish was not interested. We switched to a Pheasant Tail Nymph, and the tippet was 0.15 diameter fluorocarbon. We covered the fish but no response at all. I then changed the leader to 0.115 fluorocarbon and first cast the trout took the fly and Gordon landed a fine fish of just under  2 lb. To prove the point that the diameter was key, the next cast secured a lovely Grayling (in season), of over a pound and we both agreed that this was no coincidence.

Later in the day, we waded carefully over some shallow water where Gordon spotted a trout laying in a very small run between weed and again we covered the fish with the dry fly but no takes came.  By watching the fish and considering the next change of tactic we rested the trout who was within fifteen feet of where we stood in the water. Generally, if you approach fish from below and downstream, and treat each step in the water as a slow motion affair as you work upstream, it is very likely you will get far closer to fish than you ever imagined.

We made the final cast to our trout with a PTN again and the take was instant. Gordon can be seen holding his prize before the trout was safely returned.

Gordon with a stalked River Itchen Brownie

We all love to fish the dry fly but sometimes a nymph is the order of the day. Gordon also caught some lovely fish on the dry fly as the rises increased. One tip with the dry fly is to make sure the leader is turning over and fully extending on each cast. A longer leader will catch you more fish as a rule but not if it lands with too many coils in the area of the fly. We want the trout to see minimal leader and ideally that last six inches of tippet will be well degreased and under the surface so just the fly is profiled on the surface for the fish. In chalk streams the presentation is particularly important.

So, in summary, combine stealth, good presentation and plenty of watching time to achieve the best results.

Carlton Towers, South Yorkshire Shoot Review – Courtesy of Edd Morrison & GunsOnPegs

I was lucky enough to have shot at Carlton Towers, South Yorkshire earlier this season and although the weather had nearly drowned the poor partridges during the week leading up to the shoot we had a fantastic day’s sport.

What I find so interesting about Carlton Towers is its progression as a business since Simon Kershaw has become the Estate Manager there. The house itself is one of the oldest stately homes in the country and is quite a sight when driving up the drive towards its gates. Carlton Towers is one of the ancestral homes belonging to the Duke of Norfolk’s family and home to the Duke’s brother and sister-in-law, Lord and Lady Gerald Fitzalan Howard.

They arrange an astonishing amount of weddings in the house during the summer, they have created a fantastic cookery school within the house, and the main part of the house is available for shooting parties to stay in before, after shooting or both with exclusive use of the house and in house professional chefs offering stunning food, wine and cigars for guests.

We met at Carlton Towers at 8:30am for a sandwich and a cup of tea before we met the keeper and drew our pegs for the day. After a quick safety brief we were in the cars and on the way to the first drive.

Being a traditional partridge shoot the guns are placed behind high hedges or belts of trees and the partridges are driven over the hedges providing very exciting shooting for the guns. Having never shot traditional partridges before I was excited to see how and where people shot them. I could tell from how far away the picker-up was standing that it was ok to have a crack at them out of “the back door” which I like the idea of and proves an effective way of shooting them.

After watching what was going on down the line I managed to get an idea of when and how to shoot the partridges and I finished the first drive with a couple of lovely birds crossing a way in front of me and enjoyed watching the others shooting further down the line.

We then headed to the new drinks lodge within the parkland grounds of the house. There, we were greeted by a roaring fire outside, hot soup with chilli sherry, black pudding sausage rolls and homemade sloe gin. The shoot room was decorated with antlers and fur rugs, allowing guns to stand in side if they wanted to, but as it was so mild we stood and chatted outside by the fire. It was a great location and Simon told us that during the summer they do outdoor cooking lessons around the fire which sound brilliant.

Onto the second drive, there was no hedge in front of us on this drive but for some reason it just looked like a cracker. Sure enough it produced some of the best birds of the day in my eyes. It started with French partridges trickling through the line and the odd pheasant that got through unscathed. Then suddenly the unmistakeable noise of English Partridge making their way towards the guns and plenty of them. I saw a stream of these glorious birds and after a couple of cracks of the flag by beaters at the front of the game crop they exploded over most of the line. Some went high, some went low, but they spread everywhere and not one gun managed to pull one down. Unfortunately I didn’t get a shot at them as I was right on the end of the line for this drive, but to see such a healthy number of greys and the guns get so comprehensively beaten by these magical birds was just a joy to watch.

Onto the third drive which had the Drachs power station behind it which actually gave the drive a certain feel to it that I rather liked. What I found so fascinating about this drive is that it shows that no matter how close you are to civilisation (or a Power Station) with good conservation wildlife can flourish and this drive proved that. The game crop that the birds were driven from was immaculate and it provided a good amount of shooting for the line of guns.

The fourth drive provided a selection of the most challenging partridges as they were driven over a tall belt of trees which they tended to follow down the line due to the wind providing good sport for the guns crossing in front of them. Again a good strong sized covey of English Partridge slid out of the side out of shot of the guns, but again it was fantastic to see them in such healthy numbers. I managed to round off the day with a lovely right and left of partridge and then back to the house for a Gin & Tonic and lunch.

Lunch was cooked by the professional chefs at Carlton Towers and was served in the shoot dining room which again is as grand as you could ever want and yet homely at the same time. We had Game Pie followed by a fantastic array of cheeses and wine.

Carlton Towers offers something very unique to shooting parties wanting something a little off the beaten track. They offer only what I can describe as amazing discounts on accommodation in the house for the night before or after or both. This gives your team exclusive use of the house, dinner and breakfast before or after you head out for a truly memorable days traditional partridge shooting.

They also offer packages with Cookery courses on the second day where guests get taught how to butcher their own game and how to cook it like the professionals of the culinary world do.They even offer a Cooking Course on the same the day, so that the other halves can enjoy a full day at the cookery school… More than often it is the men leaving the ladies to shoot and getting stuck into the cookery school.The Carlton Towers Cookery School is immaculate and the equipment is second to none, from the marble surfaces, top of the range ovens and hobs to the professional chefs who make sure you enjoy your day and get the best experience possible out of it.

What Carlton Towers offers a party of guests is completely unique, a truly English partridge shoot and a trip that I would definitely recommend any team of guns to go for. The hospitality is second to none, the shooting is great fun and the house can only be described as glorious.