Mr Bruce: "You painted our rod"
Me: " Yes, it was glossy"
Mr Bruce: " That's because anglers like glossy rods"
Me: "I didn't"
The second flyrod I ever managed to break was a Bruce and Walker Hexograph. The fact that I had painted it with matt emulsion paint before the tragic incidence occurred created a bit of a stir. In the end he did replace the rod but insisting that I didn't paint the replacement. Of course I did and that's because of Stealth...
Stealth Part 2
Although there has been no scientific research (of which I am familiar) that I can use to validate this claim, I believe that the number one cause of fish spooking (technical term here having the living daylights scared out of them) is not flashy rods, bum casts, or the sound of one hand clapping; it is in fact the angler moving about and the fish seeing him.
There are several things that one can do to help avoid this unfortunate occurrence. The first is to s-l-o-w down. The second is to wear facepaint (only kidding). Let's talk about slowing down.
Sudden movements attract attention. This is not just the case with fish and fishermen of course but also fish and insects, fishermen and fish and every visual event known to man. If you are going to move at all, then move slowly with long and frequent pauses. Every movement should be both slow and deliberate.
It is equally important to merge with the background. Some anglers have been known to take this to the extreme and wear camouflage. Although us cynics scoff at the mere thought, suggesting that it is over the top and why don't they go the whole way and wear facepaint (Guy), it does have its' supporters. It may even be that some anglers are already wearing facepaint and that the only reason we are not familiar with the fact is that it so effective. Personally I think it is a good idea and that if you are going to wear camouflage you should also wear facepaint (or a beard). When you do so make sure that you remember to cover-up your hands.
When stalking along riverbanks and lake edges I am acutely aware of what my hands are doing. Keep them down by your side, behind your back or hidden in your pockets. If you need to scratch your nose or some other part of your anatomy then do so very s-l-o-w-l-y.
Now that I have got you moving slowly and cautiously (at all times think like a cat) I'd like you to keep low. Remember last week's angle of refraction? This is your angle of deliverance… think like a snake.
So here is something I've picked up and you may like to know; it is this: it is possible to appear in the fishes window, realise your mistake immediately, duck down and for the fish not to have realised that you are there. I often do this in NZ actually (by accident): let's face it, if we can see the fish (or at least the eye of the fish) then theoretically it can also see you). The trick is to see it first and then quickly disappear (don't blame me if it doesn't work BTW).
So now you are not only slithering along like a snake (slowly and therefore worm-like) but you are also timid of your each and every movement, ready to retract yourself at an instant's notice.
One of the golden rules of Stealth is to approach from behind. This fact should be obvious to everyone of course and it's why we walk upriver when given the choice and not downstream. Very occasionally we will want to fish downstream but this makes stealth even more important and is definitely a candidate for facepaint.
Although flyfishermen are by and large excitable daredevils who in the normal course of life wear bright and gaudy clothing, this attire is wholly unsuited to Stealth. Bank side vegetation tends towards browns and greens with the odd grey rock and lump of blue sky thrown in for good measure. This is where the opportunist angler gets to express himself. I for one, have a tendency toward rocks and sky, thinking these colours more becoming to my personality. Many of my friends however choose trees and shrubs as their preferred look. No doubt this means something.
One of my good friends (Guy) has taken this too far. There is a lesson to be learned from Guy however and that is to break up the colours; do not simply use one colour or one shade of colour, but break them up, for this is one of the secrets of Stealth.
One small and yet very important consideration as yet only briefly touched upon, is flash. I would encourage you to throw away your watch (I have just given mine away as it happens) for not only does it attempt to control your life through the elimination of spontaneity and therefore interesting coincidences that you may (or may not) refer to as synchronicity, but it also reflects the sunlight that in turn spooks fish. Along the same lines I would recommend that you hide other reflective items such as forceps, zingers and always choose your jacket very carefully (demonstration of the wrong choice in jacket courtesy of Carl).
Of course there is one thing that makes this all very much easier and it I something we will cover shortly; it is the knowing of where to look and where not to look. If you know where the fish are likely to be lying then you are more likely to see them first. If they are rising and therefore revealing themselves then life is simple, but in this world of camouflage and facepaint, life is what we make it…