Back to back in Belum

Back to back in Belum

Paul Arden | Monday, 22 July 2019

It’s back to the jungle life for me. Graeme Hird is visiting from Perth, Australia for the next ten days. Tonio arrives from France for two weeks. Ronan drops in for four days on his trip through from NZ to Ireland and then I have a special guest from the USA who lives in Hong Kong and who is joining me for one week. That will see me flat out through to mid August when I head over to Europe for a month.

I accomplished pretty much everything I wanted to accomplish in the last month. I’ve upgraded all the software behind Sexyloops, got the Board moving forwards again and have made a big inroad into getting triathlon fit. I haven’t launched the Belum Flyfishing website yet. I guess that will give me something to do when I’m in Europe! And I would like to see more competition entries in the HTOC competition this year.

But all considered - pretty good. I don’t do this sort of stuff very often but it becomes necessary from time to time. Sexyloops is on its own server (has been for over 15 years) and, while we pay developers, many jobs are still done by me. Coding software is not really one of my areas of expertise, so I’m always happy when the roof doesn’t fall in.

Back to the fishing - well I can only speculate. But this should be prime-time for both free-rising Snakehead and stumping Gourami. Graeme and I will go hard this week and fish the entire lake, check out all my secret hot spots! I’m very excited to see what’s going down.

And I’m really looking forward to showing others this fishing, first to Graeme and then all my other guests. Hopefully I’ll be able to make the odd cast as well! But obviously this is not priority.

For me, guiding generally means I’m not casting. However it doesn’t mean that I’m not fishing! I’m fishing through whoever is at the front of the boat. Trying to sort out their cast, fish through them and teaching them the whys and wherefores at the same time. My goal is to put them into the position where they can go and do it on their own. I think of that ultimately, as being “the real deal” for them - and for me, trying to fish through them in order to get them to this stage, is perhaps the greatest fly fishing challenge I know.

I suppose another way of looking at it, is that’s it’s a bit like having a new dance partner.  Your dancer may be pretty nifty in his or her own dance, but the Snakehead Salsa is a completely new rhythm to learn. If you’ve ever seen me dance then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

In terms of teaching fly casting, it is a totally different world. It’s one thing to teach flycasting in a fishless field; it’s quite another to teach flycasting in *the* field. You can get some truly outstanding insights when watching an angler take a shots real, moving, fish.

Of course I cannot use quick casting-while-fishing fixes exclusively and we need to take time out to fine tune shots - casting at my floating shoes or accuracy rings, or practising in the dark with the lumi-line. My biggest challenge is to get them to go from 2m of flyline outside the tip, to 15m of flyline outside the tip without false casting. We can worry about speed and accuracy later!

I actually started out as a fly fishing instructor on UK Stillwaters. Stillwater fly fishing for trout is a vast subject. I think that it is probably the single biggest specific subject in fly fishing. There are more Stillwater trout methods than in any other branch of our sport. It’s actually a good one to teach as well, because if you have one other person only in the boat, then you can fish too! Two anglers fishing loch style - one teaching. I actually considered doing just this, as a career, in Montana, a long time ago.

But - and there is always a but - I’ve put in  around four and a half thousand days into Stillwater trout fishing and after about three thousand I can tell you that it becomes a lot less interesting than it once was!!! Here in the jungle I can get away with being the instructor AND the student because, while I’ve done only around fifteen hundred days of fly fishing here, it’s  still a hell of lot more than anyone else!

For me three thousand days is the magic number. That’s when you can think about becoming a guide. It’s also about the time when I decide to leave and find new pastures and another style of fly fishing. If there were fly fishing guides for Snakehead and Gourami with 3000 days of fly fishing experience, then I wouldn’t be guiding here!! However because no one has actually ever learned this fully yet, we - my guests and I - are in fact pioneering this branch of fly fishing. And that’s pretty damned cool I think!

How often do you actually get to truly pioneer anything in fly fishing?

So that is pretty amazing. I still have lots to learn and it’s great to have a real insight into how I want to spend my next five years. And then I get to start over again. Perfect! And if anyone wants to understand why fly fishing is so great, then this is it.

Cheers, Paul