Do 10 foot light line-weight fly-rods make you a better angler?

As an ex-tackle-store owner I guess I got to handle and trial way more fly-fishing rods than most. That included all that was touted to be the latest and greatest. Fact was that handling so many rods lead to the perhaps jaded view that all new rods were merely slight advances on a rod building theme, and big advances in the persuasive power of the rod-makers advertising and marketing people.

Maybe this jaded outlook was the reason for the fact that the rod I used most was a 9′ Sage RPL+ 6 weight that I bought around 20 years ago.

So when I was offered a chance to trial a new 10 foot single-handed 6 weight rod, I accepted, but my marketing hype and BS detection systems were on high alert.

Here is what happened.

Eel or Trout?

First the good news, the 14th Issue of This is Fly on-line fly fishing magazine for the trendy, gung-ho fly fisher is out.

Not so good news from the magazine:

I have a real thing about some ‘poses’ taken when photographing fish. In this issue of This is Fly are two photographs that exemplify the “I will do anything to make this ugly fish look longer” attitude.

It it is based on the seemingly fashionable trick of the happy angler holding the head of the fish as close to the camera as possible and the  tail close to his body. The technique can work if the fish is in good condition, fit and fat. But if the fish is skinny and out of condition, oh dear, how sad.

So have a look at the photo of the trout, and I use the word ‘trout’ loosely, on page 51, is it a trout or an eel? No amount of camera tricks can disguise the fact that is a truly undernourished fish. Yes, I know it fits with the US obsession with measuring the length of the fish to the exclusion of all other factors that go to make up whether a trout is a good all round fish. Just make the fish look long in the photo. But the fish in this picture was so out of condition and hungry it would have chewed on a brick if you threw it in the water, and probably fought like a wet sock.

The felony is compounded on pages 43 and 107. Two more fugly fish, which no amount of camera chicanery using the ‘pose’ could make look good.

So guys, if the fish is shaped like an eel, under nourished and slab sided, do the decent thing; quietly un-hook it in the water and let it swim away to do some much needed feeding.  We promise not to watch.

‘The Last Best Place’ – a celebration of fly-fishing in New Zealand.

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In a word, ‘stunning’, is the best way to describe this new book of photographs on fly-fishing in New Zealand.

In his introduction, Bob South, award-winning editor of Fish & Game New Zealand magazine, makes a case that Zane Mirfin’s superb photography confirms that New Zealand, head-and-shoulders above anywhere else, warrants the tag The Last Best Place for fly-fishing. South maintains that Mirfin’s uncanny camerawork allows us all, even the most cynical, to know that, in terms of fly-fishing, we’ve certainly come nowhere near the stage where all is lost here, either in the pollution-susceptible lowland systems, in didymo-invaded mountain streams, or deep in the fragile backcountry. In fact, quite the opposite is true.
Zane Mirfin – fishing guide, author, and award-winning photographer, has captured the essence of what makes fly-fishing in New Zealand unique and special. Over 100 remarkable images reveal the drama, splendour, and excitement that is fly-fishing in New Zealand. The images stand alone as a feast for the eye of any angler – each worth more than a thousand words. Each telling its own story.

In place of the usual narrative, editor Bob South has selected quotations from angling icons, writers, and celebrities to complement each of these stunning photos of The Last Best Place.

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Barr Flies

John Barr, creator of the Copper John nymph and many other flies has put pen to paper, or probably more correctly, keyboard to hard disk, and produced a book. ‘Barr Flies’ is quite simply a wonderful book that should grace the bookshelves of all fly-tyers. barrflies

John outlines clearly and succinctly the process and thinking that lead to the creation of several of his very successful fly patterns, and gives a very clear outline of how he fishes them. This is presented without the flowery, pseudo mysticism that pervades too many American fly-fishing books.

On top of the good clear writing, are truly excellent tutorials on tying John Barr’s flies, written and photographed by Charlie Craven, no slouch as a fly-tyer and fly fisherman himself. In my view these tutorials and photographs have set a new bench-mark in fly-tying instruction. Clear, concise and informative.

The only niggle I have is that the few drawings in the book, presumably drawn by John Barr because they are not attributed, are awful – stick to designing flies John! Fortunately this does not detract too much from the overall impact of this fine book.

If you are into fly-tying get this book.