I have a few good fishing pals who are older than I am. I really enjoy fishing with them.
I have never been able to put my finger on why that is. In mulling over why that might be, these two conversations come to mind:
A friend of mine recently returned from a family holiday. It was one of those extended family things where each family within the greater gathering takes a bungalow, and then you get together for meals to argue and create family politics. You know the set up. Anyway, he and his wife were placed with some of the older folk. That is to say, my pal is the right side of fifty, and the “older folk” with whom they shared a bungalow are the wrong side of seventy.
His comment on the whole arrangement was “What a pleasure!”. There was banter, but no barbed remarks. There was enthusiasm but no real competition. There was passion but no agenda. No one was practicing one-upmanship, and no one was judging. You had achieved what you had achieved in your life and it didn’t matter. What mattered was that you were there, and you were living in the moment.
“Rustig” I think he said. (An Afrikaans expression meaning Relaxed, At peace)
I totally got it.
Then Roy wrote me this last week:
My January copy of Fly Fishing and Fly Tying arrived yesterday. There is an letter from an Irishman complimenting a recent article about flyfishing being good for your health. The chap continues refering to a very good friend and fishing companion (also an Irishman), who travels alone from his home in Long Island, New York every year to fish his beloved Liffey with his mate. The chap, Tommie O’Shea is 91 years old, “a dry fly fisherman, a Tricos and Caenis master and an expert entomologist, impatient to reach the river and reluctant to leave it, and always keen to ‘draw first blood’”. The letter goes on to say “on our outings we each had our share of fish on#20, #22 flies and 0.12mm to 0.10mm leaders”. He continues saying it is commendable to mentor young fishermen, but don’t ignore the elderly fishermen. Keep them company, bring them fishing, or in this time of “fast everything”, take the time to visit them and listen to them”. He concludes “May we all spend a lot of time fishing and turn the head of wild beauties at 91 and more.” Wonderful, it gives us a lot to look forward to.
Roy, incidentally is on the RIGHT side of seventy
So, unless your flyfishing is some highly driven affair, in which you must know more, go further, stay out longer, and catch more; and in which you cannot bring yourself to drop a few of those: go fishing with some of the older guys.
They may be much older, in which case you will be taking them fishing as an act of kindness. Or they may be just a little older, in which case they are just a pal who happens to be older than you. Either way, get your head right. Listen more than you speak. Develop an understanding of where their fly-fishing has come from, and why they do what they do. Explore what they know, and quiz them about tactics, tackle and methods. Look at the similarity of the developments long ago with all the new fangled stuff you see on facebook nowadays and ask yourself how much of it really is new.
But more than that perhaps you will re-evaluate what it is about your fishing that is really important. I suspect that you might be prompted to consider that the older guy’s tackle is less complicated. I wouldn’t mind betting he carries fewer flies. He will still sometimes catch more fish than you.
When he catches fewer fish, you might notice that it matters less to him than it mattered to you. And when he caught fewer fish I bet he was still enthralled by the day. Lunchtime might have been as enjoyable as the fishing itself.
Lunchtime is when friendships are deepened. Its when you think about your fly-fishing relative to what your mates have tried. It is where new ideas are born, in the glow of conversation and in mixing your ideas, with those of others. When those lunch pals have been around a little longer, they have an intrinsic wisdom. They have tried some things, and can tell you if they worked or did not. They will instantly identify an idea of yours that has not been tried and is worth giving a bash.
If you fish and interact with an experienced flyfisherman over a day on the water together, you may multiply your hours spent on the water with him, with all of his hours that went before.
Such is the value of that day in my book.
A celebration of our upland Trout streams on video://player.vimeo.com/video/117028709
View on Youtube:
I posted a week or two back about the limited number of truly useful developments in fishing tackle. PD pointed out to me that I had omitted the now ubiquitous net magnet. He is right: that was an oversight. A magnet that holds your net at your nape, or on the side of your pack, is one of the truly clever innovations of the last decade or more.
It got me thinking though, just how many applications there are for magnets in our sport.
Firstly, Graeme arrived bright and early Saturday for our mornings fishing, and presented me with a gift: a small “fly pad”, which sports a fly threader (much ribbing about my eye-sight), slots for flies, and magnets in several places.
This thing replaces my now bald piece of sheepskin, and apart from the foam slots for the flies, provides several magnets that grab and hold a fly while you are sorting out your tippet.
Such a simple, and yet truly useful feature. When you have a spool of tippet in one hand, a fly in the other, and you need to put something down to deal with a sliding rod or suchlike, you can just touch the fly to one of the magnets, and instantly free a hand to rescue something that would otherwise be swept away in the current. Thank you Graeme!
When tossing out old equipment, I have always raided the guts of whatever it is for magnets. They just seem like such useful things to have around. I don’t quite know why. I am constantly looking for new uses for them. One such use, that sees a magnet permanently with my tying tools, is for picking up tiny hooks that fall under the fly tying desk, and hide in the dappled carpet.
I have written previously about Shaun Futter’s idea in which he showed me how to use a net magnet to attach a wading staff at ones side.
Unless it is a tiny stream, or low water, this is now part of my standard equipment on a river. The staff is as useful for probing the long grass ahead for snakes, as it is for keeping ones balance in fast water. Without the net magnet, I think the thing would get in my way just enough for me to have given up on carrying a wading staff altogether.
Then just two weeks ago Jem and Tim were marveling at a gadget that I have long since taken for granted: a rod holding magnet.
Such a simple thing, this small “U-shaped” magnet clamps your rod to the side of your car while you are setting up, so avoiding the classic “rod in the car door” accident. It is a wonder that those granting lifetime guarantees on rods don’t give these away with every rod bought. As a rod manufacturer, I think this would be the smartest investment since the rod tube started coming standard. (Hint, Hint….send royalties here).
Last time I took my pickup to the car wash, I neglected to slip the magnet into my pocket. When I came to fetch the vehicle, I immediately checked the special spot inside the bin where it lives, and it was gone! It was only when I threatened to line up the entire car wash staff and probe them with a metal detector, that a bashful fellow came forward and gave up his loot. He must have been a fisherman: just not my type of fisherman!
This photo kindly sent to me by Tom Sutcliffe