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Where & What Constitutes Fly Fishing

We as fly anglers need to have a fairly broad set of standards with regards to what constitutes fly fishing and what does not. This leaves some in our midst with a feeling of angst or guilt in having to choose what lengths we are prepared to go to to catch fish, when the fish are just not in the mood to be caught in what could be classed as " in a totally sporting way". There are many amongst us who consider the use of the " bung" supporting one or more buzzers to drift around, to be totally unacceptable. Or perhaps the use of a fast sink line employed to convey one or more buoyant flies, boobies and the like, to be just cast out and left, until an unsuspecting trout grubbing about on the bottom of the lake picks it up with relish giving the angler a similar thrill of having hooked a Barbel on a piece of luncheon meat.

Where do we draw the line, or do we just accept the specific rules of any fishery we have chosen to visit on the day. The use of the Blob or the Fab on any position on our leader would to some seem unsporting, but why? They are without doubt two very good flies (if that's what we can accept them as), and it would be a real crisis of conscience for some fly anglers to put on such flies in order to save even a blank day. Why is that? It can only be that they are either so easy to tie or there is somehow a question that it is not fair to the fish with something so irresistible. But surely every fly we tie is tied with that as our motive, how many times do we hear ourselves saying "that is so good I could eat it myself". I would also feel pangs of guilt when at a big reservoir in the middle of a scorching day , I am tempted into changing my line to a Hi D line to fish a buoyant fly just 12 inches from the bottom of the reservoir, knowing in those circumstances that is my only chance for perhaps a few hours of having a take. So are we to wait until the evening in such hot inhospitable conditions? A few years ago I would have flogged away fishing in a very gentlemanly way despite the weather to maintain standards. But as I have got wiser, I deliberately avoided the word "older", I have changed my opinion. Anyone who knows anything about the way I prefer to take my fish, will know, that if there is the slightest chance of a dry fly working, then I will be fishing that way.

So why have I somewhat changed my attitude towards fishing in ways that I would never have thought acceptable in years gone by? Could it be that as the saying goes "somebody has moved the goalposts"? The answer to that is yes .The various powers that be controlling our reservoirs are doing just that, the times that we are allowed to fish from and to, have been restricted to such a degree as a day ticket angler, so that the normal accepted times as being the most productive have now been withdrawn from their acceptable hours of fishing. Usual starting times now are from 8.00a.m until àbout an hour before sunset. Therefore the morning rise and the evening rise have officially been ruled out of bounds. So the entire allur of fishing into the evening hoping that the best is yet to come has been denied as when you drive in to start your day you are met with the GATES ARE CLOSING AT 8.45pm (Quote Brenig), in the height of summer. This is becoming the norm with varying reasons being put forward as to why, on my last Season Ticket year at Pitsford I was told by a Ranger I had to be out of the gates by 8.45pm on what was a Monday evening when it would have been light enough to still change a fly at 10 p.m. My attitude to fish in any way to catch in given conditions is now, go for it;

  • providing the fishery rules allow the method and cannot be classed as cheating.

  • It is quite clear that the governing bodies are totally fixated on encouraging the use of boats and exploiting the competition scene, they are quite happy with the restricted times as that does not adversely affect their sport.

  • There has always been easier ways to catch fish than just with a dry fly, most of the time.

  • I am not advocating we forget our standards in any way, merely that perhaps we consider we need to make the most of the time we are allowed when we have bought our day tickets.

  • I will still enjoy the sight of a more mature trout closing its mouth over my dry Wallywing Olive than lots of tugs from stockies looking for a flashy looking Blob. TIGHT LINES Ian.

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