The aim of the Section is to encourage and foster an interest in the art of fly fishing.
What is fly fishing?
Fly fishing involves the use of a rod and line to cast an artificial ‘fly’ to catch trout (and sometimes other species).
Where do we go?
All of the Section’s activities are focussed on ‘stillwater’ fishing, i.e. on lakes, and are centred around two of the finest game fishing reservoirs in the country, Blagdon Lake and Chew Valley Lake, both managed by Bristol Water plc and located in Bath and North East Somerset, just South of BRISTOL.
Other venues are used, however, particularly when taking part in Regional and National competitions.
We fish from boats for brown trout and rainbow trout during the recognised ‘season’ (this year from 14 March to 8 November at Chew, and from 7 March to 31 October at Blagdon), but trips are often organised outside this period to other venues such as Woolaston Farm, LYDNEY, and Lechlade Trout Farm, LECHLADE, both in Gloucestershire, where we fish from the bank.
A fly fishing rod is normally nine to eleven feet in length, and is designed and built specifically for that purpose. It is generally light in weight and extremely strong and flexible in order to be capable of the unique style of casting involved.
Early rods were constructed of solid wood, usually hickory or willow, but by the mid-nineteenth century split bamboo, from China, offering superior delicacy over wood, became the rod material of choice. Shortly after World War II, lighter rods of hollow fibreglass became dominant, and in the 1970s a new generation of even lighter, more responsive, rods constructed of carbon fibre or graphite were developed. Graphite remains the material of choice.
The fly reel attached to the rod is really little more than somewhere to store excess line not used in casting. However, the diameter of the arbor is frequently quite large to ensure less distortion is caused to the stored line and to enable faster recovery of line on to the reel when required.
A fly line must be heavy enough to send the fly to the target, because in fly fishing it is the weight of the line that carries the fly through the air to the target (as opposed to other types of angling where casting relies on the weight of a lure or a sinker at the end of the line).
Fly lines were originally made of braided horsehair or silk, but in the 1950s new lines of vinyl-coated nylon, with far superior flotation and suppleness, were developed.
A fly line has tapered diameters to aid in casting delicacy and distance, and is identified by a classification system based on weight. In order to ensure proper casting performance, the line must be matched to a fly rod designed for that weight.
Fly lines also vary in buoyancy, from floating through intermediate to sinking.
The leader, or tippet, is a length of monofilament nylon or fluorocarbon line which is attached to the ‘business end’ of the fly line, and it is to this that the fly or flies is/are attached.
The number of flies mounted on a cast may vary from one to four, the fly at the terminal end being known as the ‘point’ fly, with any others being mounted on ‘droppers’, which are short lengths of line attached at intervals along the leader.
There are literally hundreds of different artificial trout fly patterns available today.
Trout flies usually fall into two overall categories; flies to deceive the trout into believing it is real food, by imitating the natural items available to the fish such as nymphs and pupae, and flies intended to provoke the trout’s predatory instinct and aggression (and consequently they may look like nothing that occurs in nature).
These categories are further split to include wet flies, dry flies, nymphs and lures.
Flies are fashioned by ‘dressing’ a hook with fur, feather, thread, wire and other materials, natural and synthetic, and can be made either to float or to sink.
“My biggest worry is that when I am dead and gone, my wife will sell my fishing gear for what I said I paid for it!” (Koos BRANDT)
“Rivers and the inhabitants of the watery elements are made for wise men to contemplate and for fools to pass by without consideration.” (Izaak WALTON)
“A bad day’s fishing is better than a good day’s work.” (Anon)
“There will be days when the fishing is better than one’s most optimistic forecast, others when it is far worse. Either is a gain over just staying home.” (Roderick HAIG-BROWN)
“Unless one can enjoy himself fishing with the fly, even when his efforts are unrewarded, he loses much real pleasure. More than half the intense enjoyment of fly-fishing is derived from the beautiful surroundings, the satisfaction felt from being in the open air, the new lease of life secured thereby, and the many, many pleasant recollections of all one has seen, heard and done.” (Charles ORVIS)
“Nothing makes a fish bigger than almost being caught.” (Anon)
“Scholars have long known that fishing eventually turns men into philosophers. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to buy decent tackle on a philosopher’s salary.” (Patrick McMANUS)
“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing rods.” (Doug LARSON)