You know you’re a fly fishing nut if you cut your grass extra short where you practice casting.
— Matthew Marran (@mattmarran) June 18, 2014
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…
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.”
It’s one of the more unspoken double standards in angling.
On the one hand, we all bang on relentlessly about the sport needing more newcomers to sustain it.
On the other, we cannot look at More than 10,000 anglers expected at March 1 trout-park opener without an involuntary shudder passing down our spines.
Am I right?
It’s obviously a relatively marginal concern, given the hell some of my countrymen have gone through since Christmas, but the floods that have plagued Britain for two months now make me wonder what anglers should make of the situation, particularly with the world and his wife now taking a long hard look at our rivers and how we ‘improve’ them.
So this blog post from Theo Pike is welcome, collating as it does a number of pertinent links in which knowledgeable people who aren’t chasing votes explain exactly what’s what and how we might go about putting it right.
“My own call on this?” says Pike. “There’ll be no overnight solutions to our current mess of sheepwrecked uplands, maize-silted rivers and concrete-covered floodplains, not to mention the perched-and-canalised problems epitomised by the photo at the top of this blog.
“But if this winter’s jetstream propels us as a nation towards working in harmony with natural processes, rather than wilfully opposing them and actually believing we can conquer nature…without getting properly slapped for our pains…
“… I think that’ll be a start.”
I used to keep a tally of Headlines I Never Expected to Write in a Million Years. I stopped at 22.
A film director takes his parents to what is labelled a ‘secret feature’ screening at a film festival in the States. He anticipates some harmlessly entertaining movie that at least approximates to family viewing. What he gets is Nymphomaniac: Volume 1.
“That’s the movie with real sex and penetration.” His words, not mine.
Cruelly delighting in his discomfiture, entertainment magazine Vulture collars the embarrassed director’s mother afterwards, to get her verdict on Nymphomaniac‘s finer points.
And the money quote – “My husband Steve was pretty reluctant to stay for the movie. But when we got to the part where the older gentleman [Skarsgård] pulls out the Izaak Walton book and they start comparing graphic sex to fly-fishing, Steve leans over and says, ‘This looks interesting. I’ll stay awhile.”
I wondered if it was a momentary lapse by the writer, but no; Google the phrase and everyone uses it. And while going against the herd is not something I do lightly, I feel I must at least raise the question.
What the hell is everyone talking about?
“…like a knife through butter,” makes more sense, although some of we Northern Hemisphere types might like to preface “butter” with “warm” at this time of year. In its current form, though: who actually casts butter?
There’s a phrase doing the rounds among British soccer commentators of late which has sadly gained acceptance through unthinking repetition: one parrot after another referring to “stone wall” penalty decisions when they actually mean “stone cold”.
Let’s not take a similar stroll down Gibberish Boulevard, fly anglers; please…