Bizarre Notions

Bizarre Notions

Paul Arden | Tuesday, 30 November 2021

It’s funny, for decades I used to think that the Induced Take by moving dry flies on Stillwaters was a form of cheating! It’s not that it was “cheating” exactly, but when a fish ate the moved fly it meant less to me, because it wasn’t naturally fooled into eating my fly, but instead attracted to the movement first.

I had the same feeling with nymphs and wets too. It’s often far easier to “knock a fish off” with the induced take, than a static presentation.

Anyway while those days have mostly long gone now (although I definitely have self-restrictions in my jungle fishing), they were undoubtedly very important in my development as a fly fisherman at the time.

I can see how it happened too. I started my trout fishing “career” on the reservoirs in the UK, at a time when 95% or more of anglers spent all day stripping streamers (in the UK we call them “lures”). In order to explore fishing other methods I had to ban myself from fishing these streamers for years (and I took them all out of my box!).

Dry flies on reservoirs were pretty much unheard of back then; I had started experimenting with them seriously back in ‘85 and had some excellent success (read: “nailed them”). But skating dry flies was no different to fishing surface muddlers, but leaving them static — well that was just so different to almost anything else! The closest it came to was fishing buzzers drifted around in a current. Yep, static “imitative” fishing, this was what I wanted to explore and learn thoroughly.

And naturally we disdained lures (“streamers” to everyone else) and lure fishermen who we called “lure bashers”, who weren’t really “fly fishing”. It’s similar to giving up smoking or alcohol. No one hates smokers more than ex-smokers and if you’re on the wagon then anyone drinking half a glass of is a raging alcoholic!

It must have been like that for Halford and friends. They didn’t want to fish flies that sat in the surface, but ones that fully floated on it. They didn’t want to blind fish, but instead see the fish first. They didn’t want to fish downstream where the fly might drag… In other words exactly the same type of restrictions that I and my friends imposed on ourselves a hundred years later.

I was having an instructor conversation on the Board with Vince recently, about methods of teaching sports’ movements and one of the methods was “Freezing”. Freezing is restricting the use of various joints as a method of exploring the use of other parts of the body. For example if you prevent elbow from opening in flycasting, you bring the shoulder into play. All good stuff and interesting to play with.

It seems to me that that’s exactly what we have been doing with our fly selections and approach in learning to fish alternative methods too. In other words we “freeze” out the lures in order to fish imitative flies. We freeze the retrieve in order to fish static presentations.

Of course… when it comes to defrosting we swing back the other way. You couldn’t get me fishing anything but streamers on rivers for years!! A fish that eats my Nymph without being induced is now less satisfying... There is absolutely no way we can ever be truly satisfied. No wonder all my friends are nuts!

Cheers, Paul