Wierd stuff

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I cleaned out my fishing box this afternoon. It’s a large white Ikea-esque plastic job. I use it as a bin, chucking all potentially-needed gear into it before transfer into the boot of the car. It’s like a travelling fishing wardrobe. Waders, chest pack, spare spools, fly boxes, partially decayed bananas. I’ve found some fascinating biology in it over the years, at all stages from off-fresh to genetically-evolved beyond all comprehension.

Removing the large items from around the box I found a fine layer of various detritus and dust on the bottom. And there in one corner was an upwing spinner, decayed as far as to leave just a paper-thin body shell. Heaven knows during which season it came to find itself there. It might have been an olive upright, but I wasn’t sure. Feeling that warm and slightly intangible connection to the river one still feels when not actually there, I dug out the camera and photographed. I then picked it up, examined it closely, and gave it a gentle tap. It disintigrated into tiny pieces, joining the rest of the dust and detritus in the bottom of the box. I wondered how it had managed to stay in one piece for so long, hidden away from all the random junk that lives in there.

I couldn’t help consider how long it would take for the rest of the box’s contents to reach a similar state of decay, poised between form and dust. Let’s hope at least the shiny aluminium reel has a few years left.

In the first of a new season of intermittent posts, and in a shameless attempt to boost ratings (and further put off writing my own posts), it’s time to welcome my (new) other half to the Tamanawis pages. Who knows where this will lead, but we’re going to start with a crucial tool required by every fisherman’s partner, the fishing glossary. I leave the following largely unedited, though reserve the right to leave chauvinistic comments in italics..

Thoughts of a fly fisherman’s wife: Part I, The Fishing Glossary (by The FFW)

A little background

I decided to contribute to this blog for two different reasons. Firstly, I have been Mike Tamanawis’s wife for a couple of weeks now which indeed makes me a Fly Fisherman’s wife (excellent use of capitalisation), and as I have fished a couple of times I am qualified to make some comments. And secondly…

Last week during our honeymoon/fly fishing trip to Sutherland, Mike was fishing in the sea when a fisherman came to speak to me.

“What is he fishing with?”
“Well, at the beginning he used a dry fly as the fish were feeding at the surface, but as the activity was slowing down on the surface he decided to use a wet fly. We will see what happens.”

I still don’t know who was the most surprised, the fisherman, the fish or me. I just thought, “oh dear I can actually speak about fly fishing, I am officially the wife of a fly fisherman”. So here is my guide to the most important terms and ideas for a fly fisherperson.


Waders (“The Frog”). We can say from the beginning that the film “A River Runs Through It” should be banned from all girls who will eventually be with a fly fisherman, particularly if he fishes in Scotland. The romantic idea of Brad Pitt casting in the middle of a beautiful sunny day, it is not quite my experience of fly fishing….

Chest Pack (“The Fishing Bra”). Much funnier that the normal ones used by women.

Casting. The technique of moving your arm in the manner of throwing a heavy ball, while your husband says every two minutes, “Relax, gentle, use your whole arm, imagine…relax…”

Fishing. An action used to get some food. Husband’s definition is not available in less than 2000 words.

Fishing magazines. Same every month with a bit of a variation in the pictures. Husband’s point of view: serious debates about fishing every month which can not be missed just in case they actually discover that fish really do not care about the difference between flies (in fact I sometimes feel slightly closer to the wife’s perspective on this one..).

I’ve never taken a picture of a fishing magazine, so I’ve substituted in a nice grayling instead.

Fly tying. Very scary stuff. When you discover the collection of dead animals, obsessively classified in order. And all the flies in boxes which will never be used, that is actually super scary, you should know.

Boxes. Tools used to organise any kind of thing. Husband’s definition: Endless possibilities for new systems to re-organise the flies, for the 102nd time (which actually is not that important as all the flies go with him anyway every time he goes fishing, as you never know what you could find in a very small burn).

Underwater rocks. Provide hope that a fish took your fly. Husband’s perspective: Fly lost and potentially rod destroyed if you don’t react quickly enough when you see your wife fighting with a rock as she seriously thinks that she caught the biggest fish of her/your life. Beware.

Heather. A plant which most fishing flies find very attractive. Husband’s reference: Don’t leave the wife with a rod until you cut down all the nearby heather, otherwise you will not be able to fish all day as you will be retying and cutting a lot of fishing line.

Catching a fish. Wait for your husband to deal with the rod. Husband’s definition: Hold the rod high and tighten your line with the left hand. I know because he told me many times, but it’s still impossible to apply for some reason (I have no idea why, it’s an action similar to pointing upwards at an expensive item high on a shop shelf while holding a shoping bag in the other hand).

Tree-lined rivers. That makes no sense, how could I cast? You must be joking.

Fishing without a frog in April. A bit silly.

Fishing during winter. Complete silliness (again, hard to argue really..).

Practicing casting on the grass. Serious insanity.

Marrying a fly fisherman. You should be madder than the fisherman (does help, and in this case might be true..).

— The End (not definitive or complete, and may be expanded).

Not sure exactly why, but I’ve just registered for my first hill race. It’s the (reasonably famous) Carnethy 5 here in the Pentland hills. Perhaps it’s a last desperate attempt to feel like I’ve achieved something in my 20s, or perhaps it’s just to see how far away from ‘fit’ I really am. Whatever the case, come February 12th, it’s going to be carnage….

We interrupt the current spate of news items (including but not limited to, Wikileaks leaking, snowy winter, forgetful coalition partners etc..) to bring readers’ attention to a truly important piece of news.

Glasgow wins title of Curry Capital of Britain.

The oldest organisms in the world.

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