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Sunday November 4th, 2012

This just might be a golden age of fly fishing.

Fly rods nowadays are brilliant things. There have always been great fly rods, but never have there been so few bad ones. We have breathable waders that only make you feel a little damp now and again. There has never been such a wide selection of easily available and easy-to-use fly tying materials. And if you are lucky you can circle the world fishing for a bewildering variety of fantastic fly-eating fishes.

Looking back, I can't really think of a time in which I'd rather have fly-fished. Go back far enough to find unspoilt fishing (from either pollution, or over-exploitation) and you'd probably struggle to find the money, recreation time, and means of transport to enjoy it without some momentous sacrifices. You'd also have to cope with crap tackle, poor flies, and rubbish clothing. Oh and there'd be no books, internet, tackle dealers and so forth to show you where to go, how to cast, read water, understand trout food etc. etc.

Sure, we can all dream about being the first person to wet a fly in Montana or New Zealand (wonder who that was btw?), but in those dreams we also arrive by helicopter and are equipped with good quantities of the 20th century's Three Glorious G's: Graphite, Goretex, and Gink. That dream doesn't really count if we want to compare say the Yellowstone of three hundred years ago to the same river today.

Sometimes we catch ourselves longing for a lost age of innocence: A time when we knew nothing of commerce and industry, pollution and over-population. In our longing we somehow set aside the fact that this supposed innocence was more likely just plain ignorance, fuelling levels of prejudice, violence, illness, and everyday bad deeds that would have us wetting our waders today, and not in a good way.

We might be slow learners but we do learn. We make monumental mistakes but we do keep moving forward. It is the only direction open to us.

We definitely shouldn't be complacent. We should still rage against those who mismanage our environment, and those others who would seek to stop us enjoying our sport. But in general I'm glad I live now with our better science and environmental awareness, our modern conveniences, our life expectancy, our flies, our fantastic fishing.

It's the 21st Century for me. Eyes wide open. Fishing forward. Graphite, Goretex, and Gink in hand.

Will


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