The Zone

The Zone

Paul Arden | Monday, 27 April 2020

Because we are born in a zone, many people feel a connection to that zone. “I am English” “I am Scottish” “I am Antarctican” How totally ridiculous. That’s not owning the zone; that’s the zone owning you! Who even cares where you were born? All that matters is that you are alive. This bullshit “identity” determined by where you were born, or where your parents were born, or your parents’ parents? How far back do you want to go?1000 generations? I like my parents very much, but they have their own lives as I have mine. Just as they were separate individuals from their parents too.

Most of the problems in this world can be traced right back to the zone. Immigration... that’s a zone problem - and an overcrowding problem. Politics - yep that’s all zone. Religion, tends to follow zones. Skin colours appears to be a zone in itself, as does sex, age and whether or not you bait fish.

When I was a young boy I fished bait; I drowned worms, fished with sweetcorn and maggots, I even live-baited once or twice. I wasn’t perfect by even the most relaxed interpretation - boys aren’t perfect. It look me several years to discover fly fishing enlightenment. But even after that, I still dabbled in the dark side, fishing squid and lugworms for Cod and Whiting on the East Anglian Coast.

Bait fishing is still part of the brotherhood. Yes it is stinky. But I’ve fly fished with Ronan in Backcountry NZ and there were times that we didn’t shower for over a month. We had eels following us upriver. Is this not just an extreme form of bait fishing? If we were fishing for eels then most certainly, but I’ve only had two on fly - although a surprising number of times I’ve looked down to see them checking out my footwear. I am totally convinced that I could catch eels with my socks.

Anyway this brings me around to Shooting Heads... and a discussion we’ve been having recently on the Board - one that I initiated by asking what line weights and tapers does one normally teach with? It’s an interesting one and you can follow it here: The “modern” fly line nowadays, being an integrated overweight shooting head - or what I like to call, “a brick on a string” - has the casting ability of a bubble float and is extremely limited in what you can actually teach.

Camo-Guy Hague, my UK/NZ friend, used to tell me of his days fishing Windermere. They would fly fish the banks and then, when they found themselves in areas of dense trees, where is was impossible to fly cast, they would tie their flies to bubble floats and carry on fishing. As a method it certainly works. When I was in my early 20s, I ran out of money in New Zealand and picked apples for a month with a Czech friend. In the evenings we would eat apples and fish the irrigation ponds together, me with the fly rod and him with the bubble float.

Is there anything wrong in this? I think not. Of course on fly fishing only waters the technique is not allowed. However to my mind a short heavy shooting head is just a long flexible bubble float. Yes of course it can be very effective, but if you need subtlety, finesse and stealth then a proper fly line is the way to go.

The Double Taper flyline is all you need for most fishing. If you need to cover vast amounts of water and that is all you are doing, then a Shooting Head or preferably a bubble float is the way to go. But if your fishing encompasses short-lining techniques, presentation casts or simply making accurate shots to rising or sighted fish, then you are going to need some better casting skills and a flyline that offers greater control.

My advice would be to train with a 5 or 6WT, true to AFFTA, Double Taper flyline and work your way through the Flycasting Masterclass videos, one video at a time and in sequence. That is really what it is all about. These are not 50 separate videos, this is a comprehensive teaching program that will take you from wherever you are now as a flycaster and in two years or so, will enable you to reach expert level. And then, after you have done this, the absolute last thing you will want to fish with, is a brick on a string.

The Masterclass:

... and then test yourself with The Essential Level Challenge:

Lockdown day 3064.

Cheers, Paul