20,000 Days of Fly Fishing

20,000 Days of Fly Fishing

Paul Arden | Monday, 17 December 2018

The fly fishing world is an interesting one. In the professional side there may be motivations such as a yearning to be recognised - what is this? Insecurity or ego? The same coin anyway.

Others may be driven by money or wealth - greed! Ha! It’s hard enough to make a decent living out of fly fishing, but becoming wealthy is going to be very challenging indeed. If you are very business orientated and work your nuts off then it might happen, but if that’s your ambition in life then you’d probably be better off investing all that time and business energy into something that makes more money. The fly fishing market is after all... how shall we put it... rather niche!

I’ve also noticed that there are people who want to be other people. I’ve always found that to be a very strange ambition. Why would you want to be someone else, following their footprints? Surely making your own path is what life is really about!

There are yet others, who are out there purely for the love of sharing. I think this is wonderful. It’s like the Pope goes fishing. Fantastic; making the word a better place through fly fishing. 

In my case I just want to fish as much as possible! That makes me quite probably a little bit selfish and not at all like the Pope. I’m more of a Pirate than a Pope anyway...

I notice that Bernd, assuming that he doesn’t fall sick or gets struck by lightning, will fish 350 days this year! That’s amazing - this year I’ve passed 300 but not many more. Which is a poor year for me but next year I certainly hope to be back over the 330s. So congratulations Bernd - that’s an awesome achievement, my friend!! Kiss

In my life, I’ve fly fished over 8,500 days. I reckon I’ll be in my early 50s when I hit that 10,000 number. My ambition in life - such as it is - is to fish 20,000 days. I expect to achieve this sometime in my late 80s - assuming I don’t get struck down by lightning or eaten by a shark first. 

And what’s the point of this? There is none of course! The pursuit of fly fishing is like most things - actually rather pointless but fun. 

What I have realised however, is that after about 3000 days in one style of fly fishing - for example Stillwater Trout - that you’ve pretty much experienced most of it and you really should by then be, what one might consider, a “local expert”. That doesn’t mean you can walk on water, but it certainly gives you the option to work as a fishing guide. That number is somewhere between 15 and 20 seasons on the water, every day which is where it came from. 

Personally I’ve done two of those. I’ve had over 4000 days on Trout Stillwaters (I grew up on a UK Stillwater, worked in a fishing lodge for a decade and spent many more years fishing Stillwaters around the globe) and 3000 days fishing New Zealand’s freestone rivers (18 summers in NZ). I’m well over 1000 days into Malaysian Jungle fly fishing. My plan is to finish my 3000 here in Malaysia and then move to a sailing boat and fly fish the tropical oceans for a decade. I have no idea what I’ll do after this.

And that is how I’m organising my 20,000 days of fly fishing; 5 or even 6 genres of flyfishing to “expert” level! Cool

The rest is “window dressing”. Rod sales are useful because in 5 years time I need to buy a yacht. Guiding helps because I need to build Sexyloops. But it’s not my driving force, just things that make everything else easier. Casting Sport helps because it makes me a finer caster. Days lost from fly fishing, while doing something else, are days lost forever! So they’d better be important and work towards the overall quest.

And when I’m 90 (start eating more vegetables, Paul) I think it will be fantastic to write a book “Twenty Thousand Days of Fly Fishing”. Not really for those still hanging around but for those others, hundreds of years from now, who are wondering about how the planet once was, when there were fish to be caught. 

I’m heading back to the UK next week for Xmas and hopefully so Ashly can see some snow - we might have to go to Hungary or even Austria for that!


PS that’s an old photo from New Zealand. My local fish here are playing a very difficult game of hide and seek at the moment Smile