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Fly Fishing and Fly Tying... the Complete Experience.
Fly fishing isn’t all about the fishing. It starts with that tingle of excitement as you prepare for your trip. Rod, reel, fly box, landing net, waterproofs, hat and polarised glasses. You tick every box… you must be sure! Once you are happy with your assembled fly fishing kit, there’s a very good chance that a niggling doubt will creep into the back of your mind. Which flies should you take? You can’t take them all, there are too many! What month is it? What will be first choice on the fish’s menu? What did that big one eat last time?
Choice of fly is the most difficult decision for the fly fisher because, as often as not, ‘sod’s law’ dictates that the fly that caught that big fish last time will now be treated with indifference, if not complete disdain!
Hours of deliberation usually result in you taking twenty of your favourite patterns along, with an alternative box full… just in case!
The excitement of the forthcoming trip rarely allows for sound sleep, so in the half light, you tiptoe downstairs, make a couple of sandwiches, fill the Thermos flask, narrowly miss treading on the dog and quietly pack the car.
The weather doesn’t look too good but how bad can it be? Arriving at your destination you put on your waterproofs, just in case, and tackle up. You painstakingly check all your knots as you attach the fly that you have now convinced yourself will give you the very best chance. Brimming with confidence you proceed carefully to the water’s edge. It is at that precise moment that the heavens open. It rains like you have never seen it rain before. The entire river is ‘dancing’ as the heavy raindrops pound the surface. In these conditions there is no chance you will see a fish, so you ‘blind’ cast to likely spots as you move up the river, constantly drying your fly. You would use a nymph and fish below the surface, but these are not allowed on your river until later in the season.
The downpour continues as you move up river and, just as you consider sheltering, two things happen simultaneously. You discover that your waterproof suit isn’t, and next to a grassy outcrop on the opposite bank, the head of a large fish comes out of the water and sips something from the surface. You cast but you’re short. You cast again but convince yourself that the fly landed behind the fish. Your next cast is ‘just right’ but the fly sails down river unmolested. Two more identical casts are studiously ignored. You are now quite sure that you’ve spooked the fish but decide to have one last cast before moving on. Nothing! You start to retrieve the line back across the river and the fly ducks under the water. To your amazement a huge bow wave appears just where you saw your fly disappear. The world goes into slow motion. The line tightens; you lift the rod, the reel screams and something that appears to be the size of a small Polaris missile propels itself out of the water! It hurtles down stream, you chase after it. Slowly but surely you persuade this monster to come towards you but then it sees you and hurtles back up stream. You retrace your steps and manage to turn the fish towards the bank. A series of blistering runs subsides into a dogged tug of war.
Eventually you slip it over the edge of your net and lift it triumphantly onto the bank. It weighs an extraordinary 6lbs and 2ozs and at the end of the day, you will deliver it to the smokers.
Over the next few weeks both you and your family will enjoy eating this fish and when you do you will recall that not only did you prepare your tackle correctly, execute an accurate cast in adverse conditions and skilfully land the fish, but the whole experience was heightened by the fact that you tied the fly that caught that fish.
The circle of satisfaction is complete.
Cherish the moment…the reward is all yours.
About the Author: Chris Sandford, avid fly fisher and fly tyer, has written several books and has recently released "Mayflies and More" a DVD and booklet containing step by step demonstrations of Chris tying 10 of his favorite flies. For more information visit his author page at Medlar Press.
Also check out his videos on YouTube below.