February 2007

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CBS

The new season bug has finally hit. It’s been a long five months away from my friend the trout and my arch enemy the grayling has been a tortuous winter companion. I really don’t understand the total and utter failure with the grayling this winter. It has certainly not come through a lack of time, effort or frozen testicles. All of these things have been offered to the Lady with humble servitude but it seems She has been occupied elsewhere.

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Well, I’ve arrived at a mental service station and before long it’ll be back along the road to trout city. It’s that time of year where opening day creeps over the dashboard and into view. I’ve been thinking about what the new season might hold and between fits of flashbacks from previous years a few new thoughts have crystallised.

This is going to be the year of the Spey. Last season a pal of mine called Ally taught me how to roll cast properly and it soon became a critical part of my fishing arsenal. Having said that I almost never use a standard roll cast, not with groovy alternatives like the snake roll and the double Spey. These days I can Spey cast almost as far as I can overhead cast, which either means I’m an absolute god of casting or my overhead needs work. Spey casting is unbeatable for fishing spiders and streamers across and down, and dry flies in tight corners. One of the great benefits is the lack of turbo-fish-spooking as caused by overhead flailing.

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Last night I finished reading a book. I’m not a particularly fast reader, so this was a relatively rare event and worthy of mention. Rather more worthy of mention however was the book itself. Isolation Shepherd by Iain R. Thomson is now among my favourite books. It’s a wonderfully simple premise: the life and times of a shepherding family who lived in one of the most remote and beautiful glens in all of Scotland. From Strathfarrar in the east, up the great expanse of Loch Monar and into the upper reaches at Strathmore, this is a book set in the finest of Scottish landscapes. Great mountains lie all around. The fantastically remote Sgurr na Lapaich and An Riabhachan to the south, Sgurr a’Chaorachain to the north and the Bowman’s Pass to the west are just a few of the many fine hills and valleys. There are rivers and lochs as well. Monar itself, the Gead lochs to the south west and the myriad streams and burns running off the peaks. A little piece of isolated perfection nestled into the far north west of this island.

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A few weeks ago the Lanyard of Power caused quite a stir here in fishy blogdom. Some folks unkindly questioned my sanity. Others, those in the know, saw the power and marveled. The Lanyard will prove to be the ultimate accessory for light weight fly fishing. I also have a sneaking suspicion that it will work rather nicely in conjunction with a small rucksac for the hill lochs.

The Lanyard did many things for me. Perhaps the most important was the sense of satisfaction that with just a wee bit of effort I had made something on my own. Twenty five smackers were saved, but the smile I experienced as things came together was the real reward. So, I’ve been inspired. Call it DIY fly fishing, call it madness, but I think I’ve found a little bit of the craftsman in my pathetic, modern skill-less life. This is going to be good.

I have something of a split personality. At times I’m incredibly scatter brained, listlessly ambling through the day with little regard for organisation or precision. Every once in a while it all changes and I become psychotically obsessive. Having recently moved flat (again) I’m currently in an obsessive phase. An ongoing source of annoyance to this obsessive side of my brain has been the organisation (or disorganisation) of fly tying kit. Somehow I’ve amassed an incredible amount of the stuff and I’m perennially trying to organise it all. For the last few months now most of it has been living in a number of plastic boxes. The only problem here is that when I eventually try to get some fly tying done the whole place becomes a bomb site, and I immediately revert back to the scatter-brained personality. This state remains for several weeks until I finally get pissed off and tidy everything up again. Lather, rinse and repeat.

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Never Bored

A recent post by The Windknotter got me thinking about what it means to be a fisherman. He described some of the warning signs that mark the journey from fishing as a past time, to fishing as an obsession. For me, the biggest sign is probably the daily musings. I think I can be pretty confident in saying there isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not thinking about fishing. Sometimes it’s a kind of cast I’ve been working on. Other times it’s a nice fly I’ve noticed in a book or on a website. Often I think about the memorable days I’ve had on the river or loch. Almost all of these are inextricably tied to the people who have shared the experiences with me.

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Just spent some time on the roof having a cast. Things didn’t start well. Tried to go for all out distance straight away and it was a disaster. Putting the thinking cap back on and a few minutes spent false casting 10 metres of line and the loops sharpened up nicely. Went for distance again, not pretty.

My pal was filming so I could get some footage to analyse and see what was wrong, but the line wasn’t showing up very well. The footage of myself did however show that, as usual, tracking is a big problem. This is particularly bad on the back cast where the loop never ever seems to come over the top of the rod. I think I tend to fling the rod around in a right-to-left arc through the stroke. Needs practice. But, by the end I was nicely opening out the stroke and getting a reasonably late butt rotation which put out a few nice loops.
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