Archive for October, 2012

The Beauty of Nature

October 30, 2012

The beauty of nature:

I take my time fishing pretty seriously, it isn’t so much that I have to catch a lot of fish or even a big fish but I do want to catch fish. As the years have passed the challenge hasn’t lessened nor the desire for success, but I move more quietly now, I try to pause and appreciate things a bit more, I slow down and look more closely and wonder at the complexity of it all. I try to drink in the beauty of it, the astounding abundance that surrounds us and the symmetry and perfection of the designs which are all about us and which we equally so often miss or take for granted.

The perfect bell shapes of the Erica’s dangling over the water’s edge, the glorious symmetry of the daisies and the convolutions of the mountain’s folds, forced into “S” bends by unimaginable and ancient forces.

I marvel at the miracle of life on the stream, the emergence of a dragonfly, growing larger than its shuck, its thirty minute transformation from aquatic predator to attack helicopter.

The mayflies are no longer simply bugs to copy, but motes of ephemeral splendour in the morning light, delicate beauty and functionality rolled into one. In nature little is truly ugly and less is dysfunctional, it is a balance, and it proves that functionality and pragmatic design live in combination, the one wondrously counter-pointed by the other and melded together to produce tremendous beauty.

Can we really define beauty? What makes something beautiful? It seems to be a question akin to “what is morality”, we all have a definition, an idea, perhaps even a considerable degree of commonality, but I suspect that somewhere deep down we have the concept of beauty hard wired into our genetic code.

We take our cues from nature, we try to emulate it, copy it, reproduce and engineer it. However I suspect that our best efforts are only hollow representations, empty manipulative shells of true splendour. Somewhere deep inside us we know that nature is beauty, that we are indeed part of nature, grown from the same evolutionary process and still part of the natural community, no matter the degree of our homocentric wriggling to affect an egotistical escape.

I never sense that perfection in an urban environment, I see copies of it, attempts at it, concrete and stainless steel in endless, and to a point magnificent array, but it lacks soul, it lacks the timeless endurance that has fashioned the natural world over eons.

What building is more wondrous than a honeycomb?

What engineering more spectacular than a mayfly’s wing?

What colours more vivid than a sunbird’s plumage?

What art more perfectly balanced than a brown trout’s spots?

It is in nature that one finds true beauty, we can only try to emulate it but we cannot better it. Some of our greatest accomplishments are little more than copies. Our sonar has been the prevail of bats since time immemorial, our cameras spectacular until you consider an eagle’s eye, our antibiotics are taken from or copied from naturally occurring chemicals, our computer chips may seem incredibly small until you think that a single sperm or seed contains the blueprint for an entirely new being.

Nature amazes me and it humbles me, it enlivens me and motivates me, in nature I find my foundation for I am part of it and it is part of me: it is part of you! When we embrace ourselves as part of nature we are all beautiful, for the natural world doesn’t create ugly. It is when we focus entirely on ourselves, when we seek to manipulate, cajole, battle and overwhelm that we become ugly. When we chase more and more and more, when we drive for endless growth and destroy in short-sighted avarice we become ugly.

Fly fishing may seem a strange place to find this truth, but in reality when one is on a river, you have to fit in to the natural world, you cannot dominate it. Every true hunter has an appreciation for his quarry, an understanding of the seasons, an innate recognition of what sustainable actually means.   Every tribe has a natural God to which they give thanks; hatred has no place in nature, nor does greed, nor does ugly. Nature is endlessly beautiful, timeless and fascinating and it is a community to which we belong if we would only take the time to renew our membership.

That’s what I do when I go fishing these days, I put up my hand and I swear allegiance to the natural world, I am part of it and it is part of me and I renew my membership each time I head out, it is endless and will outlive me, but not my soul, for even in the next realm, my bones will perhaps become part of a mayfly’s wing or a trout’s spots. In effect we shall all achieve immortality, reincarnation is a part of the natural world and we will not escape it. As a part of the natural world I am assured of an endless line of wondrous and beautiful existence and so are you.

Casting 1,2,3,4,5

October 26, 2012

Engrams, natures little shortcuts.

For committed readers of this blog you will know that I have been intimately involved with fly fishing and in particular fly casting for some years. Indeed I have published a book on the subject “Learn to Fly Cast in a Weekend”. Which in its original format is out of print but which is equally well still available as an electronic book.

There are numerous references in that book to the way that we learn things, we would love to imagine that it is all intellect and skill and such, but mostly it is just about practising, and perhaps more importantly practising correctly. How we learn to do stuff has become something of a fascination for me, not that I am in any way qualified to investigate it, just that it is of interest and it seems to me that much of it is actually the same as you were told as a child. The same way that you learned your times tables, or how to write or drive a car or cast a flyline.

The modern world of instant gratification would have you believe that there is a “quick fix” to everything, “lose your belly fat in five days”, “Speak another language in a week” etc but life suggests that isn’t the way to go. So why call a book “Learn to Fly-Cast in a Weekend”. Firstly because beginners actually can learn to do that, for the simple reason that they don’t have to “unlearn” anything.

Now it so happens that I have recently set about trying to learn something new, some years back I taught myself to touch type, it is going pretty well, whereas it started at about ten words a minute with a lot of mistakes it is now sitting closer to seventy words a minute with reasonable accuracy. How did I achieve that? By simply sitting down every day and bashing away on a keyboard with an electronic tutor making the most mind jangling noise each time I hit the wrong key. It is tremendously frustrating stuff, and equally very effective.

For some bizarre reason though I never did teach myself to use the number keys, which by default equally means the #%^)(*& and stuff that goes along with them. So I would have to look down at those keys each time, rather spoiling the effect.

It’s not unlike having to look down to pick up the line at the end of each cast, if you do that you will by now be aware that it will cost you some fish, because you weren’t ready.. bad habit.

So I decided it was time to put that matter straight and am busy bashing away once again, warning bells ringing in my ears as I try to train my muscles with new Engrams. Engrams are those highlighted and stored pathways between the brain and the nerves and muscles that provide, over time, shortcuts to actions. They are the things that allow you to change gear with your stick shift, put a cup to your lips without spilling coffee down your front or indeed hit the “P” when you want to on a keyboard. In time they may be the things that allow me to hit the 123456890 keys too, but those pathways are still in the baby stages and currently being laboriously hot wired into my nervous system through constant repetition.

Why discuss typing practise on a fishing blog? Well because the process is exactly the same if you are learning to cast a fly rod. Repetition works, it is the only thing that works, you simply cannot learn to fly cast properly without practising. More to the point practising the correct thing, (it is a sneaking little caveat to engrams, if you practise the wrong stuff you will get shortcuts to the wrong stuff.) A classic case of Garbage in Garbage out.

Now back to the typing, you see because I neglected to “do the numbers” at the same time as I did the rest of the keyboard, the numbers don’t have allocated shortcuts,(engrams) not only that but because I was looking down at them I was using any random finger that happened to be available at the time. So in fact they do have engrams attached to them, just the wrong ones and that is where a heap of the frustration comes from.

Now that I am trying to learn to do it properly I have a double problem, not only do I have to teach my little finger to reach to the far left to hit the “1” key, but I have to train my index finger to leave it alone. My index finger keeps sending messages back to my brain along the lines of “what happened? you used to let me do that, why can’t I do that anymore, and what’s so special about your pinky anyway, he never did any work for the last ten years”

The analogy with fly casting gets stronger, many of us get to cast well enough to catch a fish, in some places that doesn’t require a whole lot, and then we stop. We carry on fishing; we ingrain those bad habits and fix those erroneous engrams into our nervous systems. Even fly casting tutors have them in some instances and in the worst case scenarios they are so ingrained that the tutors will try to teach you the same thing.

Because I neglected to finish the whole course when I first set out to learn to type, I now have to go through the entire process again, not only that but I have to “unlearn” all those bad habits that have accumulated as a result of my neglect.

There is only one way around it, to sit down, make a concerted effort not to go back to what I was doing and go through the pain of getting it right. I have one advantage, I got it right before and I know that I can again; it is simply a case of repetitive practise.

Interestingly enough, you can’t really practise typing by just typing, you don’t apparently pay any price for your mistakes and you don’t get anything much by way of feedback. In fact most programs automatically correct your errors before you even notice them. The same applies, at least to my mind, to casting, you cannot practise casting when you are fishing. Firstly you will get away with things often enough not to notice and secondly you are not focused on the casting but on the fishing, much as when typing I am focused on the language not on the right keys.

If you are not happy with your casting (and don’t feel bad, by my estimates at least 80% of fly anglers aren’t really that happy with theirs) there is a solution, it is possibly slightly painful or if not actually painful, at least a tad uncomfortable and frustrating. But you can make a decision, as I have with my typing. You can either live with the way that it is or you can change it. It doesn’t take much, some understanding of what you are trying to achieve, the right practise exercises to follow and some diligence.

The Holy Grail at the other end though is that once you have mastered it you won’t ever have to look back. It is a choice, it is a choice that I would recommend that you make and if you want some help my book “Learn to Fly-Cast in a Weekend” provides 16 exercises to follow that will provide you with the framework for your practise.

To give you some hope have a look at this 1234567890 !@#$%^&*() 🙂 see and that after a week of practising, I promise that I didn’t even have to look. 🙂

Where I live the fishing season has recently opened in other parts it has just closed, in either case, it is the perfect time to sort out your casting, and I assure you that it really is well within your grasp, it just takes a bit of practise. Today I still have to focus on reaching that “6” because it isn’t quite ingrained yet, but I could probably hit the darned thing with a fly from twenty yards, because I have put in the work on that front..

People always tell me that “If you aren’t getting the results that you want you have to change the things that you do”.. that applies to fly casting as much as anything else, and as said, if you take the trouble to go through the process properly once, you will never have to do it again. It is what allows me to type this blog post in little more than 20 minutes and what will allow you to spend the rest of your life enjoying your fishing without worrying about your casting.. In the end that has to be worth the effort.

Match the Hatch – Goose Biot Caddis

October 14, 2012

In general I would be the first person to tell you that “it’s not about the fly”, and mostly to be quite honest it isn’t. Presentation always comes first, always, but there are times when matching the hatch becomes more or less important, even on relatively infertile freestone streams.

I fished only days ago on a local water which is just settling down from the spate conditions of winter, a month into the fishing season and still cold and moderately high but definitely “fishable”.

Up in the mountains it was still quite cloudy and there was a nip to the South Easterly wind which was blowing upstream, hard enough to make good presentations a little problematic but not sufficiently so to make accurate casting impossible.

The first run didn’t produce any response from the fish and there were no discernible rises, but there was lots and lots of insect activity. Thousands of net-winged midges huddled out of the breeze on the sides of the rocks and formed rafts of bodies along the margins where the hapless insects , unfortunate enough to end up in the drink, had spun off the main currents.

There were micro caddis flies in both black and tan hues running about on the streamside boulders and it all looked promising, just no rises.

The next pocket saw the first fish come to the net, nothing spectacular, although I was pleased to be able to effectively “high stick” a drag free drift at the top of the little waterfall that defined the back of the pocket. It isn’t always easy to get right and this time it worked perfectly, the upstream breeze helping to be sure and the fish taking just as the artificial came over the lip..

The next run and another fish, both taken on a fairly large and nondescript spider pattern, things were looking up and despite the conditions and lack of rises it seemed that the fish were feeding happily. Then there was a long period of nothing, good drifts, at least as far as I could tell, and no action. I lengthened the leader and considered adding a subsurface pattern but to be honest I didn’t really wish to do that. This was an R & R day not a work day and I really wanted to catch fish on the dry, plus with all these bugs around the fish would have to come on at some point surely.

I missed a half-hearted take in a shallow run under the bankside vegetation, I really got the impression that perhaps the fish didn’t fully commit to the fly, it would be considered quite a large pattern and I was using it primarily to aid visibility in the high and slightly choppy water. Plus as the fish weren’t coming up I was hoping to appeal to their sense of greed and “drum up” some interest.

Things carried on like this, I kept on expecting the fish to start moving and once the sun broke through and the early morning mountain clouds burned off I was even more hopeful. I lured one more fish out of the corner of a deep run, he wasn’t big but was inordinately fat, the fish in general seemed to have been doing well over the winter months and were in fine fettle.

Then searching through shallow pockets I saw a fish head and tail, it was the first activity other than that elicited by my own imitations, and it looked to be a half decent fish too. I carefully changed position and put out a reasonable cast, no response from the fish, perhaps the fly landed just short?

Another presentation and the fly landed perfectly, I prepared myself for the take but nothing happened and I rather feared that I had put down, what was to this point my only feeding fish.

Then I decided to change flies, with all these caddis about surely that would be a better option than the spider. I tied a small parachute caddis pattern onto the fine tippet, trouble was that it really is a rather tiny size 20 and in the windy and choppy conditions not easy to see on the water. Not the sort of fly for use during general prospecting in such conditions.

Fortunately the fly landed where intended just above where I had seen the rise, and managed to keep track of the tiny white post sufficiently well to see the gentle sip of the fish as the fly was inhaled. I set the hook after a short pause and the fish took off like a rocket. Then the battle really got going, in the high water amongst the rocks the fish went berserk, jumping completely out of the water several times, trying to duck behind and under the boulders and using the strong current to its advantage. The fragile 7X tippet however held and I eventually got the trout into the net.

I must digress for a moment and say that I have become seriously impressed with this Stroft™ tippet material, it has rarely if ever let me down, even the fine stuff I prefer to fish.

A gorgeous 17 inch rainbow, fit as a flea, and in perfect condition. A few quick photographs and I released it to fight another day. From then on the fishing was a struggle, the wind worsened, the wading became tiresome and as the swirling breeze grew stronger tangles in the long leader became more frequent. In the end I packed up and headed back to the car, I had only intended to fish for the morning anyway.

It hadn’t been the best of days, and things hadn’t really lived up to the early morning promise, but I was most satisfied to have fooled a few trout and in particular one which had eschewed one pattern in favour of another more imitative fly.

The goose biot micro caddis pattern that I was using was designed years back, specifically to cover the early season emergence of these tiny black caddisflies. The conditions weren’t ideal for fishing such a small and delicate fly but the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. There is always something satisfying about catching a fish that has refused previously, all the more so if one succeeds with a fly of one’s own manufacture, never mind design.

Those caddis should hang around on the river for quite a few days yet, it tends to be a long lasting event and hopefully I shall be able to trick a few more fish with the same fly before the water drops and the caddis die off.

First Trout

October 9, 2012

I recently had the great pleasure of guiding a client on one of our streams, to fly fish for the resident browns and rainbows that inhabit that stretch of water. The trip had been put off more than once, it is early season here, the weather is unpredictable and the waters had alternately been fishable and then again not, in a random cycle determined by the rain. The situation changing daily as the last cold fronts of winter wrapped around the coast.

Night time temperatures on the mountain tops were still only scratching their way above zero and the waterfalls were still showing on the high ground but eventually an opportunity presented itself. A day only just prior to my client’s departure back home to warmer climes in Australia, and one which offered hope of some sunshine and light winds, squeezed between two cold fronts and more inclement weather.

I didn’t sleep well the night before, I take the fishing opportunities of my clients seriously and was worried about the winds and the water levels, saying little prayers to the fishing Gods that all would be well in the morning.

We set off early, negotiating some of the congested commuter traffic that afflicts every major city these days, but heading mostly in the opposite direction to the business suited go-getters struggling to get their RV’s out of first gear and so weren’t greatly delayed.

It was very windy en-route and Matt commented that “it would blow a dog off a chain”, these Aussies do come up with some cracking comments and I had to laugh. I was just hoping that the weather predictions of “light air” would hold true on the river.

There was still a stiff breeze when we reached the stream but it wasn’t impossible and we hoped that it would wane as things warmed a little later on, it was decidedly chilly whilst tackling up. The river was high, but not too high for the wider stretch that I had booked to fish. The water still markedly amber in hue but clear as a bell, these streams rarely actually get dirty unless the forsaken fish farm higher up is doing something foolish with their outflows or diggers, although good sense hasn’t necessarily been their strong suit in the past.

The first crossing of the stream was a shock, the water still decidedly chilly, as we forded a fast flowing and frigid tributary,  I put on my brave “I’m and outdoorsman and professional guide” face and my client his “Don’t let these Springbok fellows think that the Aussies are softies” face. Still we both arrived safely on the other side, having avoided an early morning swim and set about trying to find some fish.

The first runs were unproductive, the sun was yet to climb above the mountain tops and the air was nippy. As we progressed upstream, carefully searching we spooked a trout and saw one other rise but managed to scare that one too before we could persuade it to take an artificial. There were lots of micro caddis on the rocks and I was expecting to see more activity from the fish, alas they weren’t really “on”.

I gradually began to worry that the next day’s predicted cold front, and the barometric pressure drop that accompanies these events was putting the fish off, I do generally believe that this is frequently the case, but we persevered.

Then a take to the nymph, missed out of a lack of expectation but at least it was a feeding fish. Another trout missed, this time on the dry, but they did at least seem to be feeding a little more than had previously been the case.

Eventually the sun came out; we warmed up, sitting out of the water on the rocks, and ate a sandwich or two before continuing further upstream. We changed flies, lengthened leaders and generally fiddled with the gear in the hope that it would make a difference. Then another take on the subsurface fly, and a hook up, but only a brief one, before the fish came off. Matt was getting closer and I have seen this progression on numerous occasions with neophyte anglers, one simply has to carry on working at it, a missed take, then a lost fish and hopefully at some point success.

In the pocket water several more fish were missed on both the dry and the nymph and finally a solid hook up and the leader parted, perhaps a wind knot had affected the strength of the tippet or Matt had forgotten himself and was hauling back as though playing milkfish in his home waters. Either way, another opportunity gone but still moving inexorably towards our goal.

Then a long run, shallow water and all manner of possible holding positions for fish in the higher than average flows.  Carefully “shotgunning” the run with sequential casts finally resulted in another take to the nymph and a solid hook up. Panic as Matt now a little unsure how hard to pull, when to let the fish run or when to hold, but finally a trout in the net. Matt’s very first trout on fly… a special moment. It was all smiles and for me as much as the client the pressure was now off. Nothing offers quite so much relief to an angler as that first fish, never mind that it is the absolute first.

Matt’s first ever trout on the fly.

It got me to thinking about the first trout I ever captured on fly. I was using a fibreglass rod, purchased with hard saved pocket money, a level Terylene line which required regular drying and anointing with Mucilin floatant paste. I don’t recall the leader set up, probably level nylon, and a fly which I vaguely recall was a “Sherry Spinner” pattern, purchased from the local fishing tackle and pet shop (such combinations of business were quite common back then).

I had been catching small dace in a section of the local canal, flat calm water and not the sort of venue I would choose these days to throw a line. Having captured several small dace, small enough that they would invariably fly through the air on the strike, I hooked a small trout, probably less than six inches long and a native brownie. My first ever.

Since then I have captured thousands, probably tens of thousands of fish on fly, but I can still close my eyes and remember that section of the canal, the reed beds on the far side, and the dimpling rises of those tiny dace. I can see the tangled lines and dangling flies caught up in the telephone wires above my head were we had on previous occasions been overzealous with our casts.  I can picture my little red bicycle lying in a heap in the grass, thoughtlessly discarded the moment I had seen rising fish,  and the foolish striped cap that served in those days as my fishing hat.

That small trout was the beginning of an adventure, perhaps an addiction, which has never left me. It has no doubt shaped my life, for better and worse. When I am able to assist someone like Matt catch his first trout, I am still never sure if I have helped open the door to lifelong passion or unleashed a monster of wayward and self-indulgent time wasting. Mostly I suspect that the answer to that question depends on whether one asks the angler or his family.

What is it about Fly Fishing?

October 2, 2012

What is it that makes fly fishing special?

I was recently undergoing, actually “enduring” I think would be an apt term, some rehabilitation training for my failing spine. Not that I am quite a cripple yet, but certainly I have reached a point where action needs to be taken and that mostly revolves around discipline and exercise. (Yes two things which I am sure you are aware are generally well down near the bottom of my average agenda). Anyway the back needs a little attention and TLC and I don’t suppose a lifetime of wandering in wet footwear over riverine boulders has helped the situation much, but then everything has a price and I suppose I would crawl up a river if I had to.

So there I was on the floor of the gym and the biokineticist was asking about fly fishing, in fact he was suggesting that “there wasn’t that much special about it”, as though the flinging of a pilchard or the hoiking of a metal spoon into the surf was indeed in the same frame. Now I must offer some explanation, if not defence, for his viewpoint, he grew up in Durban and everyone in his family obviously views fishing for Shad (Elf or Bluefish to some of you), as a rite of passage, if not indeed a seasonal food source.

So anyway I found myself on all fours, flexing various abdominal muscles, trying to focus on sustained contractions, whilst at the same trying to explain the allure of fly fishing. Actually I might have moved dangerously close to trying to defend it.

There is nothing quite like defending something you are passionate about to get your dander up and I may well have tensed those muscles just a tad too hard once or twice; it’s a miracle that I didn’t end up with some self-induced hernia injury or something. What an affront, to suggest that fly fishing was no different to all the other formats of piscine capture.  I am not knocking the rest, the bait anglers, the spinner throwers and all of that, but I have to believe that fly fishing is special. The trouble is, what makes it special and how do you try to convey that to someone else?

There is a delicacy to the process for one thing, perhaps not always, not with Czech nymphs and tungsten beads, not perhaps with woolly buggers and “Gummy Minnows”, but in general there is a delicacy to fly fishing that is lacking in some of the other forms of the piscatorial arts. That said there is delicacy in ballet and flower arranging and I can’t say that I am a great fan of either, so what is it?

It is a tricky question, even for someone who has dedicated, (some might venture wasted), his life in the pursuit of fish on the fly.

To start with I think that the attraction is simply that it is difficult, not onerously so, but tricky none the less. There are few things in life that are both easy and truly rewarding and perhaps a great deal of the attraction simply lays there, the difficulty of it all.

Then there is the unpredictability of it, even on the top of your game the Gods can move against you, the weather changes, the fish have one of their moments. Fishing in general and fly fishing in particular rarely enjoys even the illusion of certainty.

I frequently find that I have to caution clients when we are in the car park getting ready to fish. They seem to imagine that by some means I know what to expect, what fly to use, what will be happening on the stream.  I often need to point out that right at that very moment I don’t have a cooking clue as to what to expect and my fly selection at that juncture was based on two things, the need to secure the line from flapping about during our walk to the water and what I happened to have stuck in my hat at the time.  It’s hardly scientific and perhaps the clients would enjoy a more erudite and marketable answer, but the truth is that I have fished enough to know that only an idiot would make crucial decisions in a car park.

Perhaps that thought process leads me unerringly closer to the truth, the truth is that fly fishing by its very nature requires that you adapt to what is actually happening on the water at the time. It is one of those things that make fishing special and fly fishing doubly so, you have no control over the field of play. It is the thing that makes angling competition so fraught. Easy to play tennis on the same sized court, it matters not really the season, or the location.   Simple to play soccer on a mowed and tended field or to wallop a squash ball about a court of fixed dimension. In fly fishing things change and they can change by the hour so it rapidly becomes a question of “adapt or die”.

Then there is an essential equality to fly fishing, at least fly fishing on public water.  I enjoy the challenge of public water, there isn’t any real advantage that one can gain by spending more money or having better gear. Certainly the marketing department would like you to think so but in reality you can either “do it” or not. On public water the local plumber with his foam handled fibreglass rod can get to cast at the same fish as the litigation attorney did last Wednesday.  Although in current economic times it could be the plumber with the handcrafted split cane, who knows? Flyfishing is however a great leveller, it is just you and the fish and nobody else to blame.

Perhaps the real kicker is that you know that you could fail, failure is an anathema in the modern world, at least for adults. We aren’t’ supposed to fail, and whilst I venture out with the expectation of catching fish, and indeed most of the time I fulfil that expectation, I do know that it may not be the case. The prospect of failure actually adds to the allure, spice to the dish as it were, because you may not prevail. When your fly is drifting down on the current,(and sorry but all of my fishing dreams contain, clear water, currents and dry flies), it is always the fish that has the final say. If you are aiming your 3006 at a buck of some type, you have the say, you pull the trigger, but if you are fly fishing the result is eminently out of your hands. The fish has to make a mistake, you have to fool it into that mistake and I think finally we approach the truth of the matter.

Fly fishing is a game of deception, one may venture, albeit unkindly, that is the motivation for it becoming such a boardroom sport. But I suspect that is the real attraction, you don’t have control, you are putting yourself in a position where you may well get better at the process, cast more accurately, delay the onset of drag or recognise hatches, insects and rise forms, but in the end you are in the hands of the fish and I think that therein lies the appeal. Fly fishing can be difficult, demanding and frustrating, but the real thing about it is that no matter how good you get at it, there will always be the fish which outwits you.  In fact I suspect that it isn’t our successes which drive us on, so much as our failures. That fish under the bramble where we made a poor cast, or the brown trout which bumped the hopper pattern and decided against eating it.

No fly fishing is special, or at least to me it is, and no matter the difficulty of trying to convey that message to a non-believer whilst prostrate on an exercise mat, abdominal muscles tensed and in control, the truth is there, there is nothing quite like fly fishing. If you don’t get that it’s fine, but for those of us who do, well we would rather eat our own young than give it up.