Trout and Salmon
Giles Catchpole wants to become an effortless fisherman
A while ago I was asked what I wanted for my birthday. As I suspect many of you know, with every passing year this question becomes a little more ticklish until,
at some point, you finally run out of ideas altogether.
Don't get me wrong: I haven't got everything I want. I lack my own salmon river, for example. Or a watermill on a chalkstream to call my own. Just as I make do without the latest Aston Martin SUV. I don't even have the last word in tackle. But these are mere fantasies and if by some Lottery-fuelled lightning strike of luck, any or all of them were to appear in my life what would there be left to dream of, or to talk about?
But I do have everything that I need. More or less.
Hence my difficulty in answering a simple question: what did I want for my birthday?
And then I had an epiphany. It's not stuff I need to make my life easier and better; it's skill.
What I need is better technique. This was the concept that was floating about in my mind - or what is left of it - when I was mucking about with the vintage tackle that I was telling you about a while ago.
Our Victorian and Edwardian forebears could manage their great rods because they only fished long enough to catch a fish. Which, since there were loads of fish, was not long. We have to fish for hours each day and days for each fish because the fish are now so scarce. We could leave it up to luck, of course, but, given the odds, I'd rather just be better at fishing.
My response to the question, therefore, was:
"What I would like for my birthday is a lesson."
Which, of course, begs the question: "In what?"
Well, where do we start? Casting, I think, certainly.
You may deem it odd that I - who have won prizes for casting - feel the need to be taught but consider this: the difference between champions and also-rans lies, like as not, with their coaches. And not just coaches but fitness trainers nutritionists, shrinks, masseurs, mindfulness guides, and gurus of every facet, aspect, description, and hue.
I don't feel the need for the full panoply, as a matter of fact, but I would like to cast better. I would like to present my fly more attractively, more alluringly. And not just once in every dozen casts; but every single go.
Every. Single. Go. And I'd like to do it effortlessly.
Because if I'm going to fish for hours each precious day on the water, I would prefer it not to be hard work.
Well, not such hard work. Not quite such hard work.
Let's be clear, I am perfectly happy to contribute such energy as I can muster these days, but I reckon that technique is the key to the whole operation. I want to put my fly in front of fish in an attractive way - routinely - without three rounds of rod-wrestling to get it there. OK?
And, to their credit, the family passed the hat round and I am now bidden to join a seasoned professional - certificated and approved by all and sundry - not far from home, at my convenience to have my abilities assessed and approach evaluated. My skills will be scrutinised, my technique deconstructed, and then - with a following wind - reconstructed, adjusted, refined, titivated, tweaked, polished, buffed and puffed and generally rendered shiny and fit for purpose.
After all, we've got the whole morning to get it sorted out. I'll report progress in due course.
And then we can take the whole package northwards and see if we can impress the Great Red Bearded Gillie, eh? Well, he might crack a smile if I actually caught something; which is the point of the whole exercise.
But with bonus points for doing it beautifully.