The Advantage of Fly Fishing

The Advantage of Fly Fishing

Paul Arden | Monday, 15 April 2019

As I imagine everyone reading this will appreciate, the main advantage of fly fishing is that we are able to cast virtually weightless imitations with great delicacy. Indeed heavy flies present a problem in that if they are too heavy, out of proportion to the rest of the tackle, the cast becomes unstable - a fact that almost always surprises non-flyfishers, who usually believe that heavier lures help, not hinder, distance. And yes I do know about French Nymphing, where the fly is the weight - many don’t consider French Nymphing to be fly fishing because of this... perhaps *extremely* light flylines would have a purpose here?! But I digress... it is because the vehicle to present the fly is usually the flyline and not the fly, that fly fishing can give us an edge over other fishing methods.

I posted something to this effect over on the Board and Gary and Bernd disagree, or if not disagree, then at least have an alternative opinion!

Be that as it may, for the close quarter sight fishing that I’m doing for Giant Snakehead, and with the fast casting shots that I’ve been working on since first coming to Malaysia and becoming obsessed by these amazing fish, I now think that any disadvantage I once thought I had (and undoubtedly did have) with fly tackle, has now been fully reversed. 

Most of what I currently think has been written in the Board thread - yes we still have a Board! I really plan over the next few weeks while Stefan is here, as well as over the rest of the summer, to show you these Snakehead Shots in action. I made a video a couple of years ago to teach them to friends planning on visiting, because without them you are not actually in the game at all - and they take a lot of practise so that they occur naturally and without thinking. Of course I teach them here but (for once) refining the stroke is easier than teaching it outright. In fact, until I posted the video I never had any guest hook a Snakehead on their first trip. Since the video it’s become much more likely! 

I’ve said many times before that I believe that this is the ultimate fly casting challenge. It is so addictive. You feel like a sharp shooter with your finger on the trigger ready to take a shot that could appear at any moment. Hesitate and the shot is gone. Put the fly in the wrong place and the shot has gone (and believe me, it is a tight shot). You need speed, finesse, some techniques that you don’t need anywhere else (although great to have if you can). Basically it’s incredible  sight fishing and there is nothing else remotely like it. And then when you do get it right, and get the eat, a whole different set of challenges appear. Pulling a strong tropical fish out of stumps is never going to be easy. In fact it’s brutal. 

I’ve been fly fishing for coming up on 40 years now, something like 8,500 days of fishing, I’ve had about 1200 days here in the jungle and I can tell you that this is the very best fly fishing I’ve had in my life. One of the things I love most about it, is that there are no easy fish. There’s no success without skill. You can either do it or you can’t. And mostly you can’t. But with sheer persistence, bloody mindedness and constant training then everything is possible. Every fish catchable. And when you do land a trophy, then it is a huge achievement. My top ten most memorable fish catches may in fact be all Giant Snakehead or Giant Gourami and I’m still very much the student. 

Totally fucking addicted. 

I’m currently in negotiations to buy a small houseboat on the lake, also I’m looking to buy a third fishing boat in the short term. The lake is massive at 15,200 Hectares. From top to bottom it stretches 80KM. I think I can expand operations a little! Unfortunately the jungle is under threat. There is logging in the South. Tiger numbers are seriously in decline - two years ago there was around 43, now slightly more than 20. Actual numbers are difficult to determine. No doubt both the wilderness and the fishing will fall due to how man only seems to be able to exploit nature, or manage its decline, rather than protect it. 

Something I’ve learned in life is that you can’t plan for the rest of your life according to how things are at the moment - if you had asked me where I would happily spend the rest of my life when I was in my mid 20s I would have said New Zealand. I know I wouldn’t be happy there now; the tipping point was my last few summers there over a decade ago. Too busy for me then and too much resentment starting to creep in over foreigners - and that was then, before Didymo! Still I had a wonderful 18 years of summer fishing there and I wouldn’t change any of that. Incredibly I missed out in the development of Saltwater Fly in Australia; I was there in the early 90s but didn’t set about it - I’m not making that mistake now!

It will be the same here too. In ten years I suspect we will see much less forest, more “development” and no tigers. I plan to be here for the next six years and then it will be time for a compete change. I would love to be able to help protect the place and am planning to put some of our profits into the WWF. More on this soon! 

Anyway life is good. Looking forward to fishing with my good mate Stefan Siikavaara for the next two weeks. The fishing here is going to blow his mind!!! We have free-risers, we have babies, stumpers and - fingers crossed - termite feeding Gourami. Afternoon storms are a regular thing now, in fact everything is aligning perfectly for a fishing explosion!!! Bring it on!!!


PS POD - I was given this hat umbrella from the local fishing store. I’ll try camouflaging it, but I’m not sure it will take off. Actually it might take off and that could be another problem!