Monday, 28 July 2014


Beautifully made. 

Fishing isn't just about catching fish you know.

Oh, no - it's about many, many other things - including everything looking just right. I mean, you can have your trophy shots - and most of us have - but for many of us things have to look - well, perfect.  

My two favourite quarries are trout in the summer months and pike through the winter - though with a new job I'm afraid I've not been doing much of either lately. 

Trout fishing for me is all about naturalness. While my friend Harry hurls his fluorescent blobs of sparkling man made fibres whistling perilously close to my ears accompanied by gun like cracks as the line whips through the air and turning the water all about to foam  I much prefer the studied, protracted business of carefully inching well made flies through the meniscus. My creations are crafted from, fur and feather and come complete with eyes, elbows and arseholes as another friend, Kim once commented. 

Harry usually catches more than me. 

But, see, that's not the point, my fish mean more, they are caught aesthetically - with finesse and feeling, my fish have been duped by close copies of their usual food items, not angered into snatching at an invasive fluro green monstrosity that looks like nothing they've ever seen before. 

I don't suppose the fish care much though - they've still been caught. 

When pike fishing I love to use floats where I can, not just because they offer the best indication of interest but also because they just look so good. There's nothing quite as exciting when fishing to see the first movement of the float because you just know that something is down there! However, when the float is homemade with love, attention and time it just seems to make a difference. I don't know why - it just does. 

Cane! Now that's a whole other subject!

I came across the floats in the top picture at a clients house. She makes flies and floats and the ones here - which she very kindly gave me - are made out of natural materials; there's a quails egg, Kent cob nut, crows quill and pieces of natural wood, varnished over and over again before being carefully painted and then varnished some more. What a gift - made with patience and care and given with kindness. 

And I'd much rather look at a float than sit behind a bank full of matching rods with baits flung to the horizon in full ambush mode. It's interesting, it's exciting and there's always something to see. If you're waiting for alarms to go off - and there is definitely a place for alarms and gadgets - it's too easy to miss...well everything. If alarms are set then you can do other stuff; reading, watching TV (yes, really...), make up rigs and sleep. If you're watching a float you can't do any of that - you have to look, and when you look, well then you see. Bubbles around the float, signs of activity, signs of life - signs of's interesting! Using a float in all forms of fishing seems to keep the anticipation vital, real and ever present. Fishing with a float also keeps you active - and that's usually a good thing. 

Though I have to say when I recently fished the Kennet I appeared to have forgotten how to long trot - out of practise I suppose. But if you've ever seen an expert with a float - my friend Crump and his centre pin instantly spring to mind - it's a joy to watch.  But I caught my mid double pike on the day by leap frogging with two rods and watching the floats and the morning just flew by. And because I watched the floats I saw the activity which presaged the take. I saw the fry leaping away from the marauding pike; I saw the water move, bulge as the fish below shifted its own space about it. I saw the float bob, dip and dance; and I knew exactly when to strike, when to lean into the fish as it turned the bait and moved off because I knew exactly what was happening.

A home-made float seems to make the catch more...well, valuable.
Aesthetically, floats are wonderfully pleasing, but they're also effective too. So too are my flies when trout fishing. Hairs ear, rabbit fur, pheasant tail, peacock hurl, duck feather, partridge, squirrel tail and deer fur - all have their place in fly tying. Using these natural - ingredients, if you like - not only pleases me but also interests the fish. Those little bits of barely seen fur, feather and hide make realistic and effective baits, lures and attractors. I do know that fluorescent colours have their place, but I do love catching fish with natural materials where I can. Sometimes it takes more perseverance - much more sometimes - but if catching fish isn't the only aim, the only goal, try using realistic flies, try using floats and try lure fishing for pike with baits that react naturally (a whole other subject in itself) and see if it adds to your satisfaction. It might, and you might see and feel a whole lot more too.

A small, beautiful fish - but that's a home-made fly, that is..