Not many weeks go by when I don’t take part in the following conversation with anglers visiting the fishery. The door flings open, the angler makes a beeline for the fly display and then we begin. It goes something like this …
Me “Hi, how it’s going down there?”
Angler “OK, I have got one but lost two now”
Me “Oh dear, I train them good you see!”
Angler “It’s not the fish, it’s my flies. The [insert various expletives here] hooks are useless!”
Me “The hook broke?!”
The angler picks up a fly from the tray to give it a close inspection and then continues.
Angler “Yes, one of them jumped and got off so I carried on fishing in the same spot and missed a couple of good takes”. Face reddening. “I pulled the leader in to check it and found the hook had snapped at the bend!!!”
Me “So potentially you could have hooked a couple more fish. How did the second fish manage to slip the hook?”
Angler “Well, I had a copy of the fly which was working so I tie it on, chuck it out to the spot where I have been getting the takes and BANG it was on!” (Don’t you just love that way of describing the moment we hook a fish!) “They are fighting really well so I played it carefully and got it right to the edge of the net when it twists and turns, like they do … and then”
Me “Let me guess”
Angler “It’s only gone and [insert more expletives] got off!”
Me “Hook bust again?”
Angler “Yep, in the same place and that was the last one I had so I am trying to find something similar”
Turns and frowns.
Angler “It was such a good deal to; I got 50 million flies in a box worth half of our annual GDP and all for just £19.99!”
Me “Oh dear, the most I can manage for one of your hard earned twenties is a couple of dozen and that’s on the buy 10 get 2 free deal”
I am sure by now you get the gist and if you don’t, well the point is that when it comes to fly fishing one of the least expensive bits of kit, the fly, is the most important. The actual deals available are something like 100 flies in a box for £20.00 (20p each). How can that even be possible? Easy! Crap box. Poor tying. Low cost materials. Rubbish hook.
Anglers losing fish on venues across the country may well think they are saving cash on these so called deals but in fact they are unwittingly spending more. For example take our 4 fish permit which is currently £25.00 If the angler above had landed all his fish then he would only have required one more to complete his limit, plus the missed takes due to the broken hooks mean he could have potentially “bagged up”. As much as I love the “Bang and it was on” exclamation (“I’m in!” is good too), “bagged up” is a bit of a sad one in my book. But, there is no doubt that some anglers expect to pay their money and leave the fishery with their limit and if this is not the case they feel like they have lost out. (That’s another blog, good job I am writing them down!)
If the cheap fly buying angler above had landed all those fish then each fish has cost him £6.25 but in fact right at that second his one fish had cost him £25.00 and … 40p We could add the fuel and all that but I will stop with the how much it costs to go fishing maths. So far as I am concerned going fishing is not about the cash involved (although the Lewis River Lodge in Labrador, Bolivian Dorado and Seychelles GTS are going to take a while to save up for) To accrue the balance necessary for all these fishing adventures means counting every penny so why waste our hard earned on cheap stuff that breaks if there is an alternative?
My advice is don’t buy the chocolate bar for your next fishing trip (you see cheap flies are bad for your health!), pay a quid and land 4 fish. 25p per fish and best of all, the fly is still going strong, ready for the next visit. The best I have managed is around 52 fish on one fly that went in and out of my box during my days spent teaching & guiding. That’s under 2p per fish! We lost that particular fly in a tree; the leader snapped not the hook. And I promise that’s a true story!
Is the chock-a-block box for £20 such a good deal when the chances are the hooks will often be unreliable? And anyway most of the flies will be garbage out of date patterns that your granddad was using in 1902? The point is; the hook really does matter.
(Note – this blog was re uploaded following a server crash. First published on Mon 3rd Feb 2014)