Just recently I read somewhere, in a fishing magazine, that there are 3 types of British fly anglers. The small water fly fishers, who apparently have plenty of money and are usually over 60. Then there are the reservoir anglers ... who are reported to be feeling the full effect of the financial crisis! Really, whys that then? The final group identified are those who compete in competitions. It was suggested that this sector formulate a lot of the new techniques that appear on the scene. I agree in part with the latter statement. As for the rest of it .... rubbish!
So what qualifies me to make this statement. Well, I count myself incredibly fortunate to rub shoulders with anglers from all walks of life on a day to day basis and for what its worth here is how I see the scene today.
1) There is a whole new generation of fly angler out there emerging. There is no doubt about it. I see them on courses, we see them at the fishery and look at websites like this. Young people getting off on fly fishing.
Above: This is Fly has turned the perception of fly fishing on its head. Look really hard, and you will even find a full on rap tune and video dedicated to fishing (with some skate boarding mixed in for good measure) within its many varied and imaginative pages. Click here to see that video, pick Issue 5, page 37.
4) Tactics have changed too. Some may not like indicators. Simple, don't use them. Others hate Blobs or even fast sinking lines. Fine, don't use those either. But surely we should not try to put a stop to this progress? After all if the thought of watching what is effectively a float with a fly suspended below attracts a young kid with a coarse fishing background into fly fishing should we not rejoice? And why the barriers anyway? Increasingly I speak with anglers who are into all manner of fishing disciplines which has got to be good for the image of the sport as a whole.
5) There is more great value fishing available than ever before. The Dulverton Angling Association is a great example and if Wild Trout don't do it for you then how about an adventurous day chasing Pike, the permits are often ridiculously cheap. But lets hark back to the small stillwaters too. At this time of year these venues offer some great sport, often located not far from our homes or place of work. Here at Exe Valley our high rate ticket is £25 for 5 fish. £5 per fish and a great day out! What was once perceived as an elitist sport for the rich has now become very affordable.
Above: Iain Barr is in his 30s. He goes fly fishing and has got quite good at it, becoming World Champion in 2009. Here he is pictured with his personal best Rainbow Trout weighing in at 14lb 9oz Can you think of a better way to part with twenty five quid?
I could go on but to sum up with a brand new year just around the corner I for one am very excited at the great atmosphere I feel around fishing in general right now .... even though I am 35 later this week! Best of all, I have a whole weekend of fly fishing to look forward to, a trip up the M5 in the Rado and Hardy Demons have just gone 4 piece.