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Ronan's report

Sunday May 20th 2012

I've been fishing for a reasonable amount of time; for much the greater proportion of my life. I've fished around a bit, and I've read lots. Lots.

If I had Fly Fishing in the late 20th Century as my specialist subject in Mastermind I'd like to think I'd give a reasonable account of myself. I might just make double figures but I obviously wouldn't win. I'd sink without trace in the general knowledge round when they asked who shot the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo thereby starting the First World War. Pass. Damn.

I do sometimes wonder if learning all this stuff about fishing pushes other things out of the knowledge bank. Never mind who shot the Archduke:
What's the recipe for pancakes again?
What's the name of that bloke in that film, you know the one, with whats-her-name, set in that capital city, oh you know, him.
Where exactly is Dundas St.?
Where did I leave my car keys/glasses/wallet?

But despite this steady and muddying deposition of fishing-fact sediment across my synapses some things remain stubbornly unresolved. Sparkle, for instance.

Should a fly do it? Sparkle that is. If you flip through a fly tying catalogue or scan the peg-boards and fly-bins of your local fly-shop you could be convinced that yes, a fly better had blummin' sparkle.

We have Crystal Flash, Flashabou, tinsel, Angel Hair, Gliss and Glint (which obviously earns a brownie point for not deploying the ubiquitous n' in place of "and" ), UV Flash, Fluoro Fibre, Micro Flash, Flash Attack, Ripple flash, Mirage Flashabou, Polar flash, Mirror Flash, Lite Brite, Gliss n Glow (Damn!), and one of my favourites the obviously NASA-developed and weapon-of-mass-destruction-sounding Laser Holographic Mylar Tubing. The list goes on.

This stuff must work, it pops up in dressings all the time. But sometimes I think flash is a bad thing. In hard-fished waters I think fish learn to avoid sparkly flies. I have lots of thread buzzers tied with no flash at all and which work well when traffic-lighted, UV enhanced, glowing shiny versions don't.

We see the most flash in lures and attractors, but sometimes lures without flash out-fish the bright ones. On stocked waters things like blobs and humongouses are often a kill-or-cure option: the fish will either attack them or run for hills. They never get ignored that's for sure.

I have to say I'm not a fan of sparkle in duns and emergers. Yes I know we read about air bubbles and gas-filled exoderms and what-have-you. But I have to say, when I've looked at bugs in tanks they rarely look like a clump of crystal flash as they wriggle their way to the surface. And if there was any bubble trapping or minor glinting to be done well, dubbing traps air quite well and, if you must, silver rib glints rather nicely too.

The result of this is that in the last few seasons my fly box is a lot less flashy. I still have some brightly coloured flies, they just don't damage my retinas when I open the box in bright sunlight.

I don't think I've caught any fewer fish. But, as I'm not a fish-counter I couldn't say I've caught more either. So when I'm tied for the lead against someone doing "the life and times of my granny between 10:00 and 10:15 yesterday morning" and the final question comes: "what works best, Crystal Flash or a plain thread rib" I'm afraid it'll be another Archduke Ferdinand moment.

Pass. Damn.


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