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The Experience Factor...

December 8 2008

The fish rises again, the angler tenses, makes final adjustments to tackle and fires an artful cast upstream towards the unsuspecting Brown Trout. The fly line lands cleanly behind the fish, hardly making an impression on the waters surface as the carefully prepared tapered leader turns over positioning the fly perfectly above the quarry. Now the river current takes over, seconds later the anglers artificial is within the Trout’s window of vision, totally fooled the fish gently sips in the rogue offering. Stunned that this fly has actually bitten back the little spotty takes to the air in a rage tussling all the way to the anglers moistened hand, within moments the barbless hook is gently released and the fish swims back to it’s territory, just a little wiser. Makes your mouth water, doesn’t it?

So what caught that fish? Was it the expensive carbon fibre rod? Well that helped. What about the computer designed and profiled fly line? Again it is certainly important. Ah, then it must have been the loving crafted dry fly. Well, actually no, this fish would probably have taken almost anything that was the right size and colour. No the answer to this question is … experience.

The problem with experience is that it cannot be purchased like a rod or whipped together like our little dry flies, no, this valuable asset has to be earned through many hours of trials and tribulations on the river bank. I suppose that this very fact is what keeps the hooked angler coming back for more; it is the constant learning curve and search for a new challenge that sees millions of us stringing up our rods each week. All very well but many of us have families, work commitments and all the other stresses and strains of modern day life to think about which doesn’t always leave us much time to become piscatorial masters. Enter the Fly Fishing Guide.

This new breed of Ghillie has started to grow in popularity across the U.K. and especially in the West Country. Now for a fee you can hire your own personal tackle box of experience. A Guide can set up beats for you, organise accommodation if required and most importantly be right there to advise you just before you make that important cast. Guides will have an intimate knowledge of their venue, the flies required, which angle to approach the fish from, the best times of day, and indeed most will (and should) posses a casting qualification. So, if you are in a situation where you need to make a single handed Spey cast, perhaps a specialised mend or avoid a variety of obstacles, professional help is right there by your side. Of course many people will immediately shun the idea because they like to fish in solitude, don’t we all! But, hiring a guide at the beginning of a trip can give you that extra edge. Now the casting is in tiptop shape, you have all the local fly patterns in your box and you know exactly how to go about catching that big old Trout under a root. This surely increases the enjoyment factor immensely and after all isn’t that why we go fishing in the first place?

Not convinced that a Guide can help you? Perhaps you fancy trying for a new species on fly? Don’t know where to start? Guides are available to catch not just Trout, Salmon or Sea Trout. Now there are stunning fish such as the Bass on offer, hard fighting Pollack or Mackerel and in some cases even Wrasse. When tackling saltwater species such as this and with such a vast expanse of water to cover a Guide is invaluable. But the list doesn’t end there with Fly Fishing Guides diversifying into Coarse fish such as the awesome Pike or crafty Carp. So how do you go about finding a Guide?

Hiring guides is easy enough, for a start just take a look at “Get Hooked!”. Other places to enquire at are Hotels with fishing rights, local tourist boards and indeed many venues nowadays have a “resident professional” Guidance is most often purchased by the half or full day and no it won’t always be cheap. However with that extra experience under your belt you can return to a venue with an edge, which could have only been achieved by spending many years, fishing it. We Brits do tend to be a bit of a D.I.Y. bunch but just think about it for a moment, hours of frustration trying to find the right fly, or a few extra tenners and a memorable fishing holiday?

So fly anglers seeking that extra bit of help with their fishing are well catered for but what do you do if you have never cast a fly before? Often providing the services detailed above Fly Fishing Instructors go one step further and offer regular courses which teach the skills required to become a proficient fly angler. This interesting experience doe’s not only centre on fly casting but also the whole process of finding fish, choosing the right fly through matching the hatch and finally hooking, playing and landing your prize. Many people say that you can teach yourself but look at it this way, how many golfers purchase a set of clubs and then go hacking their way through the nearest course!? Full time Fly Fishing Instructors are professionals and will have all the gear required to hand, plus suitable venues and often a set of notes which can be referred to at a later date. Most importantly they should also come complete with a qualification such as that set by the Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructors ( APGAI ).

This network of Instructors and Guides has opened Fly Fishing to the masses. No longer is it the preserve of the rich dressed in traditional attire, these days you are more likely to see a Fly Fisher sporting a Baseball Cap and Jeans rather than an old-fashioned tweed number. With this barrier gone it has made way for Fly Fishing to become a multi cultural sport not dominated by males but enjoyed by women and children also. Indeed in my experience as an instructor I often find that women and children listen more intently and learn faster (sorry chaps!) than most men!

This season I urge you to look up a guide or instructor and make use of one of their exciting services, I assure you that the results can be fantastic and even on the more difficult days at least there is someone on hand to sort out those annoying tangles! Yes, a day out with a Fly Fishing Guide can certainly be an experience to remember. I wish you all tightlines, screaming reels and dry waders ….