Saturday, 28 September 2019

Rules. What rules?

Rules. What rules?

When I was growing up a troll was a mythical, gnarled looking creature that hid in a cave ready to leap out to scare unsuspecting passers-by. Parents deployed the fear of the troll to discourage us children from certain places. Such innocent times. Today trolls are a real thing. People who lurk in the recesses of the internet ready to pounce on actions or words that transgress or offend the moral code of the aforementioned troll.

Ivan the Breckeridge troll
Brexit. Donald Trump. Climate change. 21st century trolls have never had it so good so I guess it was inevitable that some would find their way into the fly fishing community. 

Now you might suppose I am talking about those opposed to the whole concept of fishing. But no. This is blue-on-blue. One fly fisher trolling another. Lambasting, in strong and unpleasant language, an angler who committed the most heinous and unpardonable act - he used a weighted nymph under a strike indicator.

Always assuming they are conducted in the spirit of friendship, I always enjoy these debates about what methods are 'good' and which are 'bad', but it is worth first setting out exactly what the base line is. The law if you like. It is pretty sparse. On a national basis the only things that are specifically prohibited in England & Wales (there are additional regional by-laws) is using live crayfish as bait, anything other than an artificial lure or fly for salmon before 16 June and gaffs or tailers. The truth is if you own a river you can pretty well fish, and allow those who use it, to do so in the way of your choosing. The regulations set out by the Environment Agency largely revolve around close seasons and catch sizes. Where they rule on what's on the end of your line it is by way of local by-laws on bait, spinning and so on. The closest they veer into fly fishing territory is that salmon rule. When it comes to dry vs. nymph or dropper vs. not the law is clear: there is no law. It is, as the troll opined, about ethics or in the case of a strike indicator, unethical. But I'm not so sure.

We have to be clear about fly fishing; it is an entirely contrived activity. If you had to catch fish to survive using a fly rig (even with an indicator!) would be way down the list of preferred methods to keep you alive. Like most sports the rules such as they are, are part tradition, part practical and part pragmatic. But often there is little logic; we do it that way because we've always done it that way and we like it that way.

But in the absence of rules it is dangerous to be guided by, or judge on, the basis ethics. Mine may be very different to yours. As Voltaire said, "It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets."

Flying fishing

Drones and fishing have been happy companions for a few years now. Saltwater anglers use them to scope out expanses of sea. Adventurers spy up the river for miles ahead. Coarse anglers use them to go one better than bait boats. So, the next logical extension (!) is to suspend the angler beneath a drone.

It can't be done I hear you cry. But in Australia in can. And it has been done though the authorities are investigating whether it is both legal, a probably more importantly, safe.

What you can't deny is that it was, despite all the odds successful. 

Fly tying with Barry Ord Clarke

I don't know about you but for me where most how-to books fail is in the diagrams or photographs that don't quite demonstrate every stage of the process; one tiny missing fragment of knowledge defeating your attempts to learn a new cast, tie a knot or create an esoteric fly pattern. However, Barry Ord Clarke has come up with the answer in his just published The Feather Bender's Flytying Techniques.

Originally from Lancashire Barry is both a professional photographer and award-winning fly tyer who's flies are on display in the Fly Fishers' Club and even though I hazard you didn't even know it existed, the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum in the United States. 

With a mission to explain Barry's book doesn't focus on flies to tie for the sake of tying but rather those we use day in, day out - the Klinkhamer, Pheasant Tail Nymph and Midge to name but three of his twenty-eight. 

Naturally he has his own take on each, but in addition to the beautiful photographs Barry has enlisted modern technology. Use your mobile phone to scan the QR code on the relevant page and up will pop a video showing Barry tying that very pattern.

That said you can go one better to see Barry live on Thursday 7 November when he will be at the Orvis store in Stockbridge 3pm-7pm signing copies of his book, tying flies and ready to answer any questions you might have. More details here Barry's book is available on Amazon for £25. 

The Quiz

This might well be out of date by the time you read this ....... as ever the quiz is just for fun, with answers at the bottom of the page. 
1)      What do the initials QR (as in QR code) stand for?

2)      In which US state are the Catskill Mountains?

3)  Who are the longest and shortest* serving British Prime Ministers of all time?

Have a good weekend.

Best wishes,
Simon Signature    
Founder & Managing Director


1)      Quick Response
2)      New York State
3)      Robert Walpole is the longest at 20 years starting in 1721. The shortest George Canning with 119          days in 1827. *Boris Johnson is currently on 65 days.

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