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Ronan's report

Sunday May 1st 2011

I hate to admit it but (whisper it softly) there is a striking parallel between golf and fly fishing. In both activities we apply arbitrary handicaps to make things more of a challenge. You could make the holes big enough and near enough for a hole-in-one every time; you could easily produce an outfit that casts a fly 120ft every time (take a super-large thingamabobber and half fill it with water, attach it to a 200ft leader on a fixed spool reel - oh yeah, that's right we call it a bubble float).

We could do these things, but we don't. We fly fishers like to form loops in the air, we like to do this smoothly, and with grace. We like the fly to land softly. We like the challenge of doing this well and the aesthetics of the feel and look of the thing.

There was a time when I wanted a rod that'd make me a better caster. Admit it – we've all been there: "If I could just get the latest Loovis hyperbole SXTi I'd be able to cast this whole damn line no problem". This thinking stayed with me for more years than I'd like to admit, and has been responsible for the accumulation of considerable quantities of carbon and piles of rod tubes, (note to self: I must get around to building that rod rack).

Imagine being the rod designer given this brief. "Yeah, can you just make me a rod that'll make me cast further/more accurately/more softly? Nope, I don't do much practising or fishing come to that"

The fact is, of course, that a rod can't make you a better caster. Only you (perhaps helped by a good instructor) can do that. A rod can put you on a level playing field with other casters and when I first cast a TCR #5 I realised how much work I had to do! But it won't improve your casting on its own.

So I no longer expect the latest fly rods to cast 120ft for me (I wish!), or to make a perfect snap-crackle-pork-roll/aerial double reach mend combo. If I'm ever going to do these things (both equally unlikely), then I'll have to learn how to do them myself.

Meantime I'm looking for a rod which looks nice, feels right, and which makes me smile when I cast it.

A much easier brief, then.


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