Paul Arden | Wednesday, 22 June 2022

I’ve been asked the question a few times if the Stillwater book, that I wrote back in ‘96, was updated, would have more information now? That’s always an interesting question. Of course I would write it differently today; I was 25 back then and had a different view of the world.

There are obviously a few things that have changed in my approach, namely I have extensively sight-fished for stillwater trout, experienced dun feeders (which requires a wider fly selection) and spent many years fly fishing Stillwaters from a kayak. But, by and large, not much has truly changed. The methods written in the book have served me well on my travels through New Zealand, Tasmania and North America.

The really big growth time in UK Stillwater fly fishing tactics was through the 80s. Arguably prior to this was significant too, but the 80s saw a vast increase in competition angling, Stillwater dry fly becoming a major tactic, the invention of Boobies, a wide use of sinking lines.  Even the method nowadays called the “washing line” ie suspending flies between the line and a buoyant point fly was in use. One of my boat partners regularly fished this way!

However the one thing I never really considered, at least not in the way that I do nowadays, was currents. Sure we all know about the importance of wind-lanes and that peninsulas can be hot spots. But currents started to fascinate me about 10-15 years ago (after watching fish come into a saltwater flat) and undoubtedly hold an important key in the finding fish puzzle.

I live on a vast lake here in Malaysia, that is a labyrinth, 80km top to bottom. It’s a relatively clean lake by Asian standards. Thankfully there are not many plastic bottles floating around. But the interesting thing about whatever does float along the surface (today’s bollard for example), is that it always ends up collecting in certain areas. And it always gradually makes its way to the dam.

I’m still not sure how I would tie that into the book however. But we’ve all seen it on a windy day: when the wind churns up the windward bank we see a discoloured line of water channeling itself back upwind – the same phenomenon as a “rip” on beaches. Find those when the water is not discoloured and you’ll find the fish. In fact I’m sure it’s the same place to be when it’s not quite so windy but in the same direction.

Yep so would definitely write it differently :D Anyway here it is…

Cheers, Paul