The Importance Of Kick Sampling

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Spend 20 minutes kick-sampling invertebrates and double your catch!!

Please do not kick sample in Scotland, we have been advised it is against the law there, however we all think we know what is under the water, are so excited and simply want to get fishing. BUT taking a few minutes to do this simple activity will radically improve your day's fishing and lead to a bigger catch!

Spend 20 minutes before fishing and do some kick sampling. This simple technique can increase your catch rate by HUGE volumes says Andy - Managing Director of The Essential Fly.

First time I learned about kick sampling was on a course 20 years ago on a course run by Oliver Edwards at Bolton Abbey in the north of England. We used what looked like some curtain netting on two sticks of wood about 3 feet long made by Oliver. We stood upstream about 2.5 meters and kicked the bottom and walked towards the net stirring the bottom with our boots as we walked. It took just a couple of minutes - however what happened has lasted a lifetime for me in my fishing. For the first time I started to understand what I was doing with the hundreds of flies I had in my fly box!



In the net there were hundreds of bugs of every shape, size and colour. I looked on and there was one particularly coloured nymph that was particularly prevalent. We had been given samples of flies by the team running the course but none looked quite the same as the main nymph I saw which turned out to be a mayfly nymph. After an explanation of the different bugs we went off fishing on Bolton Abbey, I was fishing a lovely fast piece of water and had 10 fish within the first hour of fishing. Oliver came along and asked me how I was doing, I told him and he said "you're doing well lad!"  I was doing well, but which fly was I using?  I showed him a fly that I had been using from my own fly box, he said "that fly was not in the box we gave you" I replied no but it looked a closer match and size to the nymphs we had seen in the net. He smiled and said "You're learning lad!" (I was about 30 at the time! [edit: that was a very long time ago now - Si wink])

We call it matching the hatch when we match the dry flies however it probably even more important for the bugs under the water! After all 80% of the Trout's diet comes from below the surface. 

Now it is even easier for me to match the hatch as I have years of experience under my belt than I did then.  But I also have the Semperfli colour chart to match the many different shades of colour within the flies to make sure I tie as accurately as possible. More on this follows!

Fly Collections

We have a great deal of fly collections in store that make selecting your flies quick easy and very convenient.  Great value too!

Bugs & Nymphs of the water

All shapes sizes and colours! Here are some examples from our own kick sampling - showing the bugs and the flies we use to mimic them.  Now we know why we need so many flies for fishing.  And here is the Semperfli colour chart in action!

Walkers Mayfly Nymph
Mayfly nymphs





Cased Caddis

Caddis Larvae










Czech Nymphs Shrimps , Scuds, Sow Bugs;






Pheasant Tail

Nymphs - Agile Darters

 Baetis nymphs

So 20 minutes will give you returns on your fishing any time of year! Try this and you will really increase the catch rates.  There is nothing quite so satisfying as a great day fishing is there!  Here are some of us and our fishing buddies on some very special fishing trips. Proof of the pudding as they say!


Lance Wolfe
08 February 2019  |  17:12

Great article. Iíve been doing this for years and it has been my little secret I guess. Started it on the Yellowstone where the big life is really prolific:)

Needs to obtain another net though. Thoughts or recommendations would be appreciated. +++
For the article.

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