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Ronan's report


Monday 29th December, 2014

I'm very lucky in that I know quite a few of the finest flyfishermen on the planet! And in experts in various fields, from Salmon angling to Saltwater, to Stillwaters to trout and grayling fishing on streams. It's very rare to find an expert in more than one field. Most specialise in one area. And there are various things that I think they all have in common.

The first and most important I think is that they fish a hell of a lot. A day without fishing is a wasted day. Being on the water day in, day out, in all conditions, in all weathers and at all times is absolute key to understanding the fishery. Now of course this has a knock-on effect upon the rest of their lives. None of them have any real money, few of them have a stable relationship, a few have children, but not many! And basically they all appear a bit crazy to the rest of the world.

I think it takes ten years to learn a fishery. That's ten years of fishing the water for six months of the year, day in day out. Personally I haven't ever done it in less than fifteen years. I fished the UK reservoirs every day for almost twenty years and 18 summers in New Zealand. These are the only two fisheries where I profess to know anything, and would feel confident teaching them. Of course I don't know everything and always learn when fishing, it's just that I feel that I've learned a hell of a lot!

So this knowing your fishery is one very important step to being a good angler. There's no speedy way of doing this that I know of. Of course fishing with the local experts is going to help, but that's a given.

The great thing of course, is that lessons learned on one fishery often migrate well to other fisheries. For example Stillwater fishing in Montana is basically the same as UK Stillwaters is the same as Irish Loughs is the same as the Tasmanian Highlands. Some backcountry NZ fishing appears rather similar to Russian trout fishing, apart from the lack of sight fishing, but nothing like European streams! Tropical sight fishing in Australia appears rather similar to Florida and Texas. Of course there are differences too, and that goes to make things rather interesting!

Tying flies and inventing your own patterns is really what it's all about. All serious anglers do this. Flytying is a huge trial and error game. It's the fish that ultimately decide how your flies look and the flybox is no more than a working bunch of experiments. And really I think that's what flyfishing is all about - not tying flies for the art of it, but continually tweaking them to catch more fish.

I think there are two sorts of good anglers. There is one type who always seems to catch a fish or two when it's hard going. These are the guys who persist, ring the changes and are dedicated work horses. This is not me! Then there are the other sort who fish hard when it's all happening - Steve Parton had a term for this, "sequencing". Sequencing is when the fish are locked on and you've got the right method dialled in. This enables you to catch a hell of a lot of fish in a short period of time. You need to be disciplined, fast with knots, quick and systematic, in hooking, playing and releasing fish. You're on, the fish are on - this is the fishing I like. And it's an unbelievably fine line between catching all the fish or none at all!

Casting hasn't really appeared on this list so far. It's important to have an accurate cast that doesn't fuck up, but being a really sexy caster doesn't matter much at all in my opinion. It's much better fishing technique on many fisheries to get stealthy and short-line. Having a cast that functions well - yes of course, you can't fish without that! - but for a lot of fishing you really don't need to be a great caster. However all the good anglers I know are actually pretty good casters as well, because they take it seriously, and when it comes to Saltwater they are all first class.

Buce Richards has taken the Sunday slot - it's great to have him on board! Thanks Anvar for a great run on the Fps! I'm looking forward to your next series! I'm picking up the roof for my boat today, or tomorrow, and then it's fishing, fishing, fishing. I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas!

Cheers,
Paul


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