Getting in close

Getting in close

Paul Arden | Tuesday, 9 November 2021

I’m sure we’ve all learned about the Angle of Refraction and Snell’s Circle as school children and that we think about it every time we go fishing. Of course waves and ripples change things, both looking in and out of the water. From underneath, waves can appear as horizontal bands of internal reflection followed by elongated windows looking out, and turbulence is a mosaic of light patterns.

This morning’s session I went looking for Snakehead babies. I found three sets…

One set was very big babies which is always challenging, especially so this time because they were motoring along in windy open water conditions. Second set my thruster decided that the battery was too low to keep up and I had to use the outboard. Fish spooked. Third set were just behaving strange and appeared to be already spooked.

But while I was searching for them my mind was wondering as it often does. When I was a schoolboy I used to enjoy art and even won the odd prize from time to time (you’ve seen my flies). Later on I dropped it, much to my subsequent regret, in favour of Maths, Physics and Chemistry at A level — FFS.

Recently, quite out of the blue, my mother has been reminding me of this, by sending me oil and watercolour paints. And I was thinking about this today and thought it would be nice to paint a pair of colourful Snakehead with their babies. And then of course that idea led to the thought that someone should be fly fishing for them — and then, that that someone should be me!

Which got me to thinking about perspective and before long I was staking the Go Pro underwater and casting towards it. My first attempt resulted in total internal reflection — thanks to Willebrord Snellius. The second wasn’t much better, there was some sky but that was all, not enough for an interesting painting. The third attempt taught me a bunch of useful information, which I will share with you now.

The first and very interesting discovery for me, was even at quite close range while squatting down I was completely invisible. Up close to the camera of course I was there. At 10m I was still there and the flyrod movement was most obvious. At that sort of distance I would normally side-cast anyway and that’s definitely an excellent choice.


But what surprised me was that at 15m I had completely disappeared. That’s still pretty damned close for a Snakehead shot and it doesn’t give you much leeway to turn a chaser into a taker. But still, it’s good to know that if you spook them it’s not because they’ve seen you.

A thought I had was that an additional source of camouflage colour, could be internal reflection or water colour. The water colour here is green, as the stills show. That’s a fair colour choice for clothing. Since we appear around the edge of the window and because the edges of the window are usually moving with ripples, then by wearing green (in this case), you may in fact blend in with the mirror/water colour.

There was a sequence I saw in editing, where the fly appeared in flight, heading directly towards camera. It’s very obvious indeed! No wonder fish spook when the fly is cast directly towards them. With Snakehead I teach to allow the fish to first breathe and to only cast once the fish has turned down. It should be clear now as to why this delay is essential.






The final thing I took away from this session, was that 5th gear of my thruster motor, even with an almost flat battery, is noisy as hell!! Never use the high gears of thruster motors anywhere near fish.

Anyway it's not going to make much of a painting. I’ll have to think of something else.

Have a great week :)

Cheers, Paul