Don't travel to Blairgowrie for the nightlife.
I am up visiting BigPaul (BigPaul because he's a giant) and we are working on a sales strategy
(selling stacks of expensive tackle was my suggestion BTW – of course I didn't have to come to Scotland to work that one out, but figured WTF, change is always interesting, and Blairgowrie, if nothing else, will offer this and besides it would be nice to catch up with BigPaul and Kate).
And so the tour began.
On Wednesday, one day later than planned, in order to give Six-pound Sean the opportunity to catch up with some work (Sean is always struggling to catch up with work; this is because he never actually works, choosing instead to go flyfishing – something which I do not condone BTW; I think it's a disgrace and he should be forced to do some real work instead :-)).
The plan was that on the way up to Scotland we would meet up with Jim Curry (Apgai, Manic), have a look around the fishery he teaches (Stocks), eat healthy food, drink copious amounts of red wine and basically make complete and total arses out of ourselves.
Since my plan was to continue driving all the way up to Scotland and Sean's wasn't, we chose to drive separate cars and because I had no idea where Stocks actually was I said "Sean, I'm not really sure where Jim lives."
Sean said "No worries Paul, I'll email you directions; trust me."
Sean, it should be pointed out has never been to Stocks, indeed it is doubtful whether he has been outside London (such were his "directions") and so when my trip to Preston from Colchester took in various parts of North Wales, by way of shortcuts, it can only be said that it was just as well that I discovered these detours, and not followed Sean's directions to the letter, otherwise I'd probably be somewhere in Italy right now. Sean BTW didn't follow his own "directions", choosing instead to follow a map.
Stocks (a very difficult place to get to)
The long anticipated return of "The Hunt for the Mugwai" took on a new twist when Jim mentioned that he had seen some strange goings on at Stocks. For a start sheep have been mysteriously disappearing from the hillsides during the hours of darkness and there has even been an (as yet) unconfirmed report of a lost donkey. There is only one freshwater fish thought capable of taking a fully-grown sheep, and that is of course the Mugwai. So far it has proved to be a particularly elusive quarry but Jim and I have made it our life's mission (not that we had any choice of course) to achieve a world's first and catch one of these deadly creatures on flytackle.
We even started an Association earlier in the year (The Mugwai Association - formerly Mugwai and Bullhead Association) as well as introducing the brand new Mugwai Association National Instructors Certificate (MANIC). Bondage, in case you are wondering, is only a very rare occurrence within our midsts and we are definitely not a satanic sect; we only want to convert you into good flycasters and are not preachers of the deadly tailing loop. Anyway:
We were optimistic in New Zealand, especially when Jim missed a take on Waituna Lagoon: "Could have been a Mugwai, Paul"
"What Muggus Mugallicus?"
"Yes Paul, and look! Not only has it eaten the fly, but also most of the flyline and all of the leader"
"Piano wire Jim; it's the only way we'll catch these blighters"
That was back in March. Unfortunately Jim couldn't fish with us this time, since he was trying to get laid by his dentist. However both Sean and I revealed that we were true hardened Mugwai Hunters and as such not interested in women frivolities (no matter how sore our teeth may become) and would rather spend all day casting rabbits the size of hares, in a wet boat, fishless and getting chilled to the bone.
Sean said: "Paul, I've had a great day, casting rabbits the size of hares, getting wet, cold and I haven't even had a nibble. I am now going to get my teeth serviced and whatever else I can"
And with that Sean promptly took off for London by way of Wales.
Scotland was my next port of call. BigPaul said he knew of a couple of great parties he "wouldn't miss for worlds, there will be dancing, women, live DJ's; could be the highlight of your life Paul"
Well he was right in part - that cannot be denied - there was something that the unfamiliar could, by way of hardened and persistent persuasion, be made to agree upon the fact that somewhere in the Universe people may dance this way (but even so it is highly unlikely and definitely not a thought to dwell upon too much, just in case our thoughts really do create realities).
Women, yes. No question. Women were definitely in presence (well done BigPaul). Women who I would like to have service my teeth? No of course not, but BP was clever here and since I failed to explicitly ask beforehand whether I was likely to meet a couple of dental twins, he can hardly be held responsible for this missing factor.
Anyway, what do I know? I had a good, all-round, interesting time. And that's all that matters.
Timing the haul
I've been trying to take casting videos so I can analyse exactly what's going on upstairs and since last week I have come to a greater understanding of the flycasting mechanics. Of course open one door and you are immediately confronted with a whole corridor full of new ones.
I had always thought of the rod as being fully loaded at the stop with the haul being made to coincide with this moment. That this is not the case I should have realised, had I bothered to actually think. The line must be hauled all the way through the final part of the stoke and until the rod has fully unflexed, otherwise - since the flyline is travelling quicker than the rod tip (it's being hauled remember) - it will attempt to overtake the rod, unflexing it in the process and reducing the impact of the stop.
Now I want to know how continuing the haul after the rod tip has unflexed will affect the loop and whether a third (thumb) haul can enhance this if applied at the correct moment. I am not completely convinced that the rod tip only starts to unflex when the stop is applied BTW and that it has not already begun doing so. Maximum flex does indeed appear to occur much earlier and not necessarily at the end of stroke.
Much of flycasting is taught that the rod is a spring, the stop is made, the spring unbends and projects the line. We know this is incorrect since we can pull the line back against the tip of the rod, flex it to its maximum, let go and the line will not pass the rod tip. I'm sure that the spring in the rod does play a part, but not an essential one. Hauling doesn't work by increasing the flex in the rod. It works by delivering velocity directly to the line.
I will be filming this week.
The glossary is starting to fill and there is something approaching a roll happening. It is my task now to go through the glossary as it goes live and make doubly certain that the meaning of each word can be fully understood from the contained text. For although the writers of this section are obviously expert anglers and very knowledgeable people (on the whole), in their enthusiasm a few (just a few mind) of the descriptions may perhaps be slightly misleading, leaving the reader feeling slightly confused and as if there was some small thing that was missing and that they were not getting the complete and conclusive grasp of the thing.
And thanks to everyone involved in this; it is very much appreciated :-)
Ali Gowans (APGAI)
There I was, hoping to get some great tips from Ali on Spey casting, talk technical AAPGAI bollocks and drink large amounts of beer and (of course) the obligatory Scotch, and so I went along to one of his classes in order that I could help out for half a day and get some pictures of the two of us doing crazy flycasting stuff together. Hell why not? If you are going to travel up to Scotland (via Wales) you may as well go the whole road and stretch the boundaries of your imagination. And besides I'd like to be able to chuck a double-hander around without looking like a complete dork.
However ten model students (plus hangers-on and hangovers) arrived in need of instruction and so I actually had to work, literally forcing us to save the technical AAPGAI bollocks for the next time we hook up.
Which may very well be in Spain as it happens.
Last week I experienced a major disappointment, when I met a person who told me that he flyfished for shad while on holiday in Ireland, how great the sport was, that the fish taste like "shit", that you catch them for sport and that they die immediately after you have caught them – so hard have they fought. And yet he continues to fish for them.
I don't know if this is true, that shad die when they are caught, I certainly hope that it is not and that he surely has made a terrible mistake, for I have tried to, but I really cannot understand the process here. How can he not see? What is stopping him? How can he be here and yet not there? And more to the point how do we help him out of this?
Anyway, I'm heading south again after having a quick hello (and possibly curry) with editor Mark B of Flyfishing and Flytying, before continuing the Mugwai Hunt. Jim has been thinking about them (Mugwai) quite a lot recently; about just how elusive these fish are proving to be and how the search for them somehow appears to be changing his very perceptions of life.
Jim says: "For one thing I'm into dentists now."
I have decided to include this video as a proof of just how important certifiable instruction can be. Here two well known FFF flycasting instructors get to grips with the double haul, investigating its full effect and limitless potential.
See what you're missing?
Now visit the glossary :-)