I remember my first experience behind a fly-tying vise.
Excited, I pushed an old VHS tape into the VCR — squirming as it wound and whirred until the faded image of a smiling white-haired man appeared. He sat behind a desk with various odds and ends in front of him.
I sat back anxiously waiting to determine whether or not I had the necessary tools to proceed to tie my first trout fly with him.
Vise? Check. Bobbin? Check. Scissors? Check. Thread? Ummm…
I looked around. Nope.
Pressing the pause button, I ran downstairs to dig through my mom’s sewing station until I found a spool of black thread.
I watched the man carefully, my finger hovering on the rewind button while he explained the basics of fly-tying. I spent the morning pausing the tape, running around the house digging up old fur coats, toys and anything else that might suffice as reasonable substitutes for the materials he was using.
It was the start of what would soon become a complete obsession with fly-tying; its history, materials and possibilities.
April explains how to use the rhea feather in fly tying.
In 1948, Richard Waddington teamed with several biologists to write a revolutionary book titled Salmon Fishing – a new philosophy.
I stumbled across the book during a conversation with Topher Browne: salmon enthusiast and author of Atlantic Salmon Magic, who had kindly given me his reading list to review and study.
But as biological books do, the “printed in 1948” stamp served as an expiration date and it was important that I resurface the book to several biologists and specialists in the field to examine if Waddington’s information still held true.
In this blog, I will identify and summarize six viewpoints from Waddington’s Salmon Fishing that piqued my interest (some of which have worked for me on both steelhead and Atlantic salmon). I have asked Topher for his insight and reasoning as to why or why not these theories have any sort of bearing.
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with sharks for as long as I can remember.
When I was a girl, my parents took me and my sister on frequent outings to the Vancouver aquarium in Stanley Park.
I vaguely remember all of the exciting features: people feeding pigeons by the entrance doors, white belugas smiling through the glass of the underground viewing station, small unsuspecting tanks teaming with glow-in-the-dark fish.
I remember the squeals we made as sea anemones danced and entangled our fingers, and the disappointment I felt when I couldn’t swim with the whales as the trained professionals did.
The entire experience was captivating, but there was one aquarium feature in particular that rooted itself into my reminiscence. It was a well preserved shark jaw, complete with layers of teeth and tourists posing with their heads carefully placed in the middle of it all.
As my delicate fingers traced the jagged fangs, a youthful curiosity and puzzling admiration transfixed me.
The shark; the king of the ocean; the animal who could swallow me whole…
Grease lining was a 1903 revelation that Wood stumbled upon one day while observing the behaviour of salmon and their disinterest to the deeply sunk fly.
Across the world, anglers actively used water-absorbing lines and heavily gauged hooks with the desire to fish their flies deep in the water column.
Mr. Wood soon perfected and popularized a revolutionary change. He learned that if he could coat the material of the line in a substance that would stay afloat, he could then swing his fly in a subsurface and somewhat drag-free presentation.
At the time, the best flotation materials were variations of grease – mucilin, lanolin, and animal fat were all thought to be suitable.
As I personally own and fish a silk line on my single-hand rod, it is in my experience that silk lines cast as seamlessly and effortless as the fly lines of today.
But maintenance can take its toll on the most patient of anglers. I know that for me, having to remove the line from the reel, dry itout overnight, restring it in the morning, grease it, apply felt, cotton, paper towel, stay busy until it dries, fish for four hours, and then have to do it all again… basically ensures only occasional use.
I am the owner of a 50 inch plasma television that sits perched on a storage unit shelf in a cardboard box. At least I think it’s still there – I’ve never taken the damn thing out of its wrapping.
I’m just not a television girl and, honestly, up until I got married I vowed I would never own one. An old movie theatre is one of my favourite treats to indulge in and the internet pretty much serves all my other curiosity.
So when the time came to write a television series, I would be bold-faced lying if I said that I wasn’t intimidated through to my core. In fact, the last fishing television show I watched was Mark Pendlington on one of his first seasons (I’m aging myself here for you.)
Truthfully, the dull lodge promo was hurting my head, the bikini babes just made me want to starve myself, and the “fish porn’s” flashing images edited to loud music just didn’t seem so cool anymore – I casually chalked it up to me becoming a grumpy old fart who would rather read and let my mind create accompanying images instead.
We took the show to New Brunswick to try and gain a better understanding of fly fishing’s tradition and history.
In the 1800’s, Scottish loyalists and Englishmen brought their knowledge of Atlantic salmon fishing with them to the maritimes…
They were shocked at what they found and proceeded to shape the sport as we know it today in Canada.
Last week at our Patagonia meeting, we were informed that Patagonia was having a hard time getting the last 10,000 signatures for an extremely serious proposal to crack down on deadbeat dams.
They informed us that they had 30,000 online signatures & 10,000 written ones and that if we could just get 10,000 more, we could fight this!
I couldn’t help but volunteer you. I am asking (begging) that you take all of ten seconds to sign this online petition so we may move forward. If you could share and sign until we hit that 40,000 mark, it would just prove that, together with social media, we can make a serious impact.
Several years ago, I remember having a conversation with one of the leading film producers in fly fishing. He had managed to get me on board with the promise of an educational series and had pitched a show where he envisioned me as the host.
There was a minor delay in the satellite phone, but his words came through clear. “We need to make sure that you’re ok with having conflict, drama and clash.”
I’m sure the delay sounded longer on his end as it took a while for the words of disgust and profanity to stop beating him senselessly in my head. I calmed my temper, put on my professional voice and kindly let him know that I wasn’t interested.
Drama and clash? What did they want me to do – get in a boat and start pulling hair? Move along…
It had been ten years of producers and networks reaching out to me with similar interests. Every few weeks, somebody in television had the idea that I might make for excellent entertainment in some form or another, provided it meant either violating my personal life or, in the words of Fergie, celebrating my “lovely lady lumps”. I was so over it.
But in November last year, I was in Chile when my phone rang and I took the call. It was Nick Pujic of Vantage Point Media House and he had a proposal for me.
I left Launceston on a Sunday afternoon. By the time I was back home in Sydney, my head was aching from the pent-up ambition that circled within it.
Greg, the Tasmanian devil that he is (full story here), had stirred me into a frenzy. But there is one problem with an animal who moves so fast : I was left blinded in a cloud of dust.
It was time to begin organizing interviews for my book and subsequent television series. So I ventured into the study and paced the room, eyeing up the books I’d placed thoughtfully & carefully on the rich brown shelves. Blue Eye’s owned a collection of first edition books that had been willed to him by his late friend, Andrew, who had died an untimely death.
The house was quiet and I closed my eyes.
Tracing a lone finger along the soft worn seam of one of Haig-Brown’s first books, the room cooled and Andrew’s presence tickled goosebumps onto my skin. I slid the hardcover from its designated slot and held it to my chest as I walked it out into the sunlit yard.
I had realized that swinging flies for steelhead was popularized in the 1930’s by Haig-Brown and that, to fully understand the origin of steelhead fishing, I must first learn more about Atlantic salmon culture…