Photograph by Steve Barnett

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Behold! My Prodigal Fly...

... has returned unto me!

Let's admit it.  You and I, we all lose flies in: trees, bushes, long grass, last years figwort seed heads, barbed wire fences, even inquisitive livestock, which may sneak up behind us, has been known to take our flies from us.  No doubt you do your best to get them back, especially if they are dangling, as a wicked trap, waiting to bring the life of a passing bat to an unwarranted early end.

Last year, during the Drake, I caught a blessed sycamore tree (why this invader is not eradicated from the British Isles is beyond my comprehension) high and over water too deep for me to paddle into.  The break was close to the fly and the hook point was embedded deep, so no dangling and no dead bats.  Oh well, never mind, put on another fly and return from aerial gardening to fishing once more...

I forgot all about it. 

Until, that is, the other day when I repeated the error and caught up in almost the same place as last year.  This year the river is so low I could walk out on the dry shingle and carefully pull down the offending branch, safely retrieve this year's fly and could just reach to snap off the twig in which last year's fly was held fast.

It was interesting to see the knot had held firm whilst the monofilament had failed.  On extracting the fly I might have repaired it with new tails but... the hook is rusted.  The fly may have returned unto me but it is, in truth, defunct!

We owe it to the bats to do all in our power to get those dangling flies back.

Regular Rod


  1. RR what's your policy on the "no wade" rivers: into how deep water would you "paddle" to retrieve a fly?
    I've lost a handful of flies on three recent trips to the Lathkill because I've stayed dry on the bank. One day last week I chose to wear waders because the grass was wet so the best way to keep me dry was to wear them. In theory I could have retrieve any snagged fly from the tufa or from a branch but didn't. Did I do right or should I have gone in, retrieved the fly, then got out?
    Thank you for your advice,

  2. Interesting words.
    We have all been there.
    I love the photo in your header.

  3. Andrew
    Where there is a no wading rule you need to check with the keeper. My interpretation is that "no wading" means no wading to fish. In which case even standing in the edge to fish is breaking the rule. However, to protect wildlife, it may be necessary to get in the water to retrieve a dangerous fly or to return and nurse a fish that is not going away quickly. The snag is what to do if it is spawning time, or just after, when the gravels are full of eggs?

    I would paddle to the tops of my wellingtons to get a dangling fly, maybe swatting it with the landing net to snag it out of the tree. If the fly is not dangling but embedded instead, then I would not wade to get it. Although I have fallen in before now reaching out to a fly and thus ended up wading back to the bank.

    Brk Trt
    Thank you. The photograph was taken by my best friend who is a fine photographer as well as the world's finest superdetail scale modeller of 1/43rd scale automobiles. He caught the moment just as a particularly large and strong brown trout decided it would prefer to be elsewhere. It was at this nerve wracking juncture that I managed to catch the landing net in a briar. The picture is of near disaster, that somehow was averted by the rod doing exactly what it was intended to do in such pressing emergencies...


    Regular Rod

  4. HI,
    Just found your blog. Great story. I have a tree that is my arch rival. The hole is so nice I have no choice but to fish it. Whether that means loosing a fly or two. Good point about the bats.

  5. thats kinda crazy, I have some willows that HATE me and always take my flies