Funny how you never see a mending instructor

American fishing guide John Berry speaks up for mending as the forgotten side of the line delivery process:

“The Federation of Fly Fishers has a complex and complete program that trains and certifies casting instructors. There is nothing in their curriculum that pertains to line control. The emphasis of the program is distance and perfect loops. That all looks nice, but line control is more important in catching fish than casting.

“Line control is the control of the fly line on the water after the cast has been made. Whether you are fishing a dry fly or a nymph, the object is to manipulate the fly line in order to achieve a perfect, drag-free drift for your dry fly or strike indicator.”

The steamy quest for Cumbrian sea trout

English: A 60cm sea-trout caught (and promptly...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, so I’m sure it can get quite lonely in Cumbria’s open spaces, but is this really how sea trout fishing begins to feel to those who fish there? Or is it simply the presence of the BBC that drags everything into trouser territory?

For 13 minutes of Radio 4’s Night Fishing documentary, in which Grevel Lindop celebrates the life and work of local poet and angler Tom Rawling, against the backdrop of a night fishing session on one of Rawling’s old haunts, it is captivating fare.

Thereafter, things take a bizarre turn, as the angler accompanying Lindop through the nocturnal gloom alludes to a sensual dimension to the pursuit of their prey. As if relieved to discover that the drive north from London hasn’t been a complete waste of time, the presenter pounces on this titbit like an owl on a rat.

“That’s fascinating, because in the poems, Tom Rawling often talks about the sea trout as being female and there’s very much the sense that fishing is some kind of courtship…or seduction…”

Like two adolescents whose guard has dropped while sharing a copy of Razzle, there’s no stopping them now:

“She’s calling us…luring us back to the water…”

“Mmm, tempting…”

“The catching of the fish is the marriage.”

Her virgin scales cling to my hands…

All of this triggered by the quite preposterous statement at the 13:55 mark – “It’s almost a sexual thing, I think – flyfishing at night…”

I’m sorry, I’ve had some wonderful evenings with rod and line but never have I been even remotely tempted to draw this analogy. There are some things you say when you’re fishing with your mates and then there are things you say when fishing with a Radio 4 microphone under your nose, and this, I would suggest, is a Category 2 statement.

But then it could just be me. Why not make the same point next time you and the gang are wetting a line, with darkness closing in around you? Do let me know if the conversation goes any differently from this…

“I don’t know about you guys but this is starting to feel like a sexual thing.”

[SILENCE]

“You still there?”

[AN OWL HOOTS]

“Guys…?”

Mike Roden

There’s nothing informs quite like the Internet but it has no sensitivity filter.

One minute you’re scrolling quietly through Twitter feeds – the ‘rods for sale’, ‘caught this yesterday’ and ‘my mate’s stupid hat’ mundanity of it; the next you’re sitting bolt upright in your chair.

“Just received details of Mike Roden’s funeral…”

I think I met Mike Roden twice, both times at the charming Curley’s Fly Fishery, one of those rare in-town waters where flyline routinely soars against the backdrop of a passing bus and where, on a clear day, you can turn away from the reservoir on the dam wall and see the Irish Sea glinting beyond Southport in the distance.

If it’s not the only fishery in the land with a baby grand piano in the lodge, I’ll be astonished.

Mike was in charge of tuition at Curley’s the first time we met, and running the venue’s fishing operation the second. We shot some instructional video with him on the latter visit and were so impressed at the confident ease with which he imparted information in front of camera, we christened him ‘One-take Roden’ in the car going home.

Friendly and helpful, some people you only need meet twice to warm to them.

Thank you and God bless you, Mike, and my condolences to those you loved.

Flyfishing’s place in the wider universe

From a review of World Cup Cortinas in When Saturday Comes:

“In 1970, the Ford Motor Company loaned every member of the England World Cup squad a car ahead of the forthcoming Mexico World Cup. With the exception of Jack Charlton – who requested a Ford Zodiac because he needed a bigger boot [trunk] for his fishing tackle – they each received a Cortina 1600E.” 

Tweet of the Day

In the Loop? Not where fishing’s young turks are concerned

That thing they say, about how police officers start to look younger the older you get?

I must now accept, with great sadness, that the condition extends way beyond the boundaries of law enforcement…

 

Possibly the best flyfishing blog post you’ll read this week

Flyfishing, etching by

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Part nuts-and-bolts guide, part reflection on the wiles of marketing and those of us who fall for them, The Classical Angler has written a fascinating account of how slow-action fly rods were usurped by the busy-bee tempo of the stiff, modern counterpart and how they are gradually making a comeback.

Finally, I know that a stiff rod with slow action is not an oxymoron.

Flyfishing is lucky in this respect, for on a very different sporting playground, I once experimented with a couple of wooden-headed golf clubs that I suspect had been built not long after hickory was replaced by metal when it came to the club’s shaft.

Slow-action? Reach the top of your backswing with those whippy antiques and you could have poured yourself a Martini in the time it took for the clubhead to embark languidly on its return journey.  Had I ever been able to make the club’s unwinding coincide with the head’s impact with the ball, I’m sure the latter would have travelled some way but it was a timing exercise tantamount to catching lightning in a bottle.

With the exception of a few nostalgics who continue to play with hickory-shafted clubs for old times’ sake, golf’s past is past where clubs are concerned, yet fly anglers can still switch from one generation of rod manufacture to another and find their fishing enhanced for more than merely sentimental reasons, as The Classical Angler has explained so inspiringly.

“Now the generation of anglers that have never tasted this wine need to have the courage to question things, and pick up a rod like the Orvis Superfine Touch or Superfine Glass, and see what has been hidden behind the yellow curtain all these years.

Soft rods are coming back, and like the LP, the sound will be like nothing else since.”

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