No Casting, is it Fly-fishing?

I was talking with a friend about a small river we regularly fish, but not together. We were swapping lies we had found, that is lies as in where trout lie, not the lies we tell after a fishing trip. In the course of the conversation I revealed that in one section of the river I did not cast. Using a wet line I would let the line out, and then by swinging the rod, swing the fly into likely fish holding spots, while slowly moving down the river – a very successful technique it is too.

Now this little river is not easy to fish, there is undergrowth up to the waters edge, and overhanging vegetation problems too, mainly dreaded blackberry bushes. The bottom of the river is a veritable minefield of fallen trees and branches, and nearly all the best lies are under the overgrowth, and in behind the bottom fixtures.

Despite all the problems of casting and manipulating the line to go where it should go, my friend was horrified at my ‘confession,’ “That is not fly-fishing,” he squawked.

“Damn right it is,” I replied.

“But you are not casting,” he retorted.

“What are you on about, I am definitely fly-fishing, and also definitely not fly-casting. If you want to indulge in fly-casting go to somewhere where there are no fish, and cast away happy in the knowledge you will not be interrupted by a fish,” I replied, a tad miffed.

You see my view is that fly-fishing is about presenting a fly to a fish that is in the right place and looks edible, the fly that is. If casting on a stretch of water is an exercise in frustration because of the encircling vegetation, and even if you can get a cast away then trying to manoeuvre the fly in front of the fish is nigh on impossible, it is time to be acutely aware of the difference between fly-casting and fly-fishing.

To me, wasting valuable fishing time swearing and cursing each time a hook-up is achieved on a tree, bush or Triffid, just to cast a fly is pointless.

Unbendable rule about fly-fishing, the longer your fly is in the water the greater your chances of catching fish – the more often your fly is in water likely to hold fish the chances of catching fish sky-rocket. Another unbendable rule, no trout has ever been caught while a fly is in the air being cast. So I will persist with quietly moving downstream, leading the fly into dark shadows, and places no cast will ever place a fly, and regularly being interrupted by some trout who lets it guard down for just a moment to munch my fly.

Bead Fly Update

A short article I wrote on my site in 1998 had been near the top of site visit numbers ever since. But the information contained in the article needed updating, and some additional explanation.

So finally I have found my round-to-it and updated the article and included some photos of this dead-easy fly to tie, well actually not really tie, more like assemble.

Its Raining – Time to Go Fishing

There is strong anecdotal evidence that fish start feeding strongly as the barometer drops, I am a believer, but just why this is so is as yet not scientifically proven. In fact the science seems to show that dropping barometric pressure is undetectable by fish: see Pressure Myth.

From the quotes on my fishing quotes page: “There are only two good times to go fishing when it is raining, and when it is not”

Water, Water, Everywhere…

I am in the throes of compiling over 500 (now 1000 08-2010) quotations and aphorisms on fishing, fishermen, rivers, sea, boats and the whole damn thing, to go on my website. One particular quote has been rattling around the dark recesses of my mind and it won’t seem to go away – “If you want to know the priorities of a nation and the effectiveness of their government, test their water quality.” – Jim Slinsky.

It is just so simple a judgement. Water is absolutely fundamental to human life that anything that reduces or contaminates this precious resource, contaminates our very existence. Yet all of us who fish in rivers, streams, lakes, or ponds are confronted on each trip with the clear, irrefutable evidence of of the harm we are doing to our water supplies.

Rubbish in the water, on the banks, on the foreshore. Run-off from farms containing fertiliser and animal excrement that feeds explosive growth in weed, choking streams, rivers and lakes, growth that alters natures balance. Industrial waste literally poisoning the water supply. The cutting down of native trees to make way for pine forests, poisoning the water with tannin and chemical fertilisers. Allowing the use of weed killing chemicals in catchment areas adding more poison to the system. Allowing the “development” of lake foreshores – too often leading to waste products leaching into the water – “development” indeed, bah and humbug!

Many Governments, local and national, claim that it is economically unfeasible to police contamination of waterways, except in the instances of gross pollution. One could hope that these same Governments could explain the economic gains that might be made by spending money on making water fit to drink.

Unfortunately the problem is growing exponentially. Water quality around the world is declining at an ever increasing rate – the cost of processing that water to make it drinkable is also increasing at an ever upward spiralling rate. How long will it be for Governments abrogate their accountabilities altogether and leave it up to households to treat their own drinking water, or buy it in bottled form? This unpalatable fact is now very wide-spread around the world.

So why has this quote struck such a chord in me? I guess it is because the simplicity of the notion reveals, to me at least, how far the people who govern us have retreated from the notions of governing in the best interests of the people, for the good of the people – and how far they have retreated from any concern over the basics that determine our well-being at the most fundamental level, the water we drink and the air we breath.

But then of course the famous ‘they’, the Government, is us. That sad fact whacks me around the ears just thinking about it!

5 Rules for Releasing Fish for Maximum chances of Survival

Most thinking fishermen will be aware of the need to release at least some fish – those that are undersized, or surplus to immediate requirements spring to mind, and for some anglers, releasing fish as a matter of course. But there are ‘rules’ for releasing fish that will ensure the fish has the greatest chance of surviving.

Rule 1: Speed Does Not Kill
The faster you can get a fish to the boat or shore the better its chances of survival. The longer the fight the less chance the fish has of surviving.
It is likely that the survival rates decrease exponentially as fight time increases. That is as fight-time goes up, survival chances decrease at an ever increasing rate. If you fish on a catch-and-release basis you should use gear that will minimise the fight time.

Rule 2: Get Wet
Lifting a fish out of the water, decreases its survival chances. The longer a fish is out of the water its chances of survival decrease expotentially. Try and remove the hook while the fish is in the water…

For all five rules plus a bonus rule – go here

National Geographic on Sharks – Facts

An excellent overview on the facts about sharks and their interaction with humans, no prizes for guessing who comes off worst.

Between 20 and 100 million sharks are killed very year, most in the truly barbaric ‘shark-fin’ industry.

The National Geographic site has a wealth of information on sharks.

Fishy Smells – Get Rid of Them

The Number 1 Question Asked on This Site!
Fishing Smells – how do you get rid of them?

The smell of fish and fishing really gets some people going – and at the risk of being sexist it is usually at its most strident when female partners are involved in the discussions.

Getting the smell off hands, etc is best done with any lemon scented soap or a mild dose of lemon detergent. Clothes are best attacked with good old NappiSan or any oxygen bleach, give them a soak first.

But the very best thing of all for removing fishy smells from body, boat, clothes and children is “Simple Green”. It can take a bit of finding, but it does a great job.

Trout fishermen are well advised to take a small flask of Simple Green in their fly fishing vest – it gets rid of the smell and residue of insect repellant and sunscreen – both of which you don’t want on your flies or leaders.

Just One Other Thing (And it Is Important):

If you are preparing fish to eat and it has a strong fishy smell, it means the fish has not been cared for properly, and it is unfit for consumption – see this and this

Belt Up When Wading

In your book “Fishing Smarter for Trout”, chapter on Night Fishing , page 125, You mention wearing a tight belt around the outside of your waders. Why? The book that spawned the question : Fishing Smarter for Trout

My First answer:

Wearing a belt round waders helps stop water running into your waders when you first fall in, in a river. If you do get washed away after you fall in the air trapped in the waders will greatly help to keep you afloat. Then you can concentrate on getting and keeping your feet facing downstream, and moving yourself as quickly as possible to shore by moving across the flow, (never try to go up against the flow).

The next question:

Thanks for your reply, it created quite a good discussion and questions at work regarding the use of a belt with waders for safety reasons. We agree with your idea of using a belt if one is wearing PVC type waders. But if the fisherman were wearing the Neoprene type, would he still need to use a belt? I was under the impression that these Neoprene waders float no matter what, possibly a wrong assumption.

Next answer:

Your comments about PVC or Gortex type waders are spot on – you should always wear a belt with these waders. In fact the better quality waders of this type come with a belt built in.
Neoprene does float, but its ability to support the body depends on the amount of clothes the dunkee is wearing. In any event it is not the floatation that is usually the most pressing issue – but safety from getting knocked about on rocks, trees, etc. Waders full of water make movement in the water very difficult indeed. It is imperative that you try and keep your feet pointing downstream, to avoid being hit in the head on rocks, tree trunks, etc. Anything that hinders this is not good. Secondly when you get back to the shallows trying to climb out of the river with waders full of water is very difficult. You can minimise all these problems by wearing a belt.