For a while now, a good friend has made enthusiastic noises about giving flyfishing a go. Sometimes, my blathering on about how much fun flyfishing is, leads the listener to shift their feet uncomfortably and their eyes glaze over. However, Aidan actually asked questions instead of trying to escape. And having recently inherited some fly gear, he seemed persistent enough in his interest to justify a first trip to a trout stream.
On a sunny Friday afternoon, we started with a quick practice cast next to the cars before my impatience took over and we hit the river. Under what looked like ideal conditions, we started with small green/brown hopper patterns to match the numerous naturals leaping out from under our feet.
I was looking forward to acting as a guide, reflecting that for real guides, it must be the best job in the world to be paid to go fishing!
Barely an hour later, I was beginning to revise this view. For a start I was not being paid. Second, a good guide should probably not try to fish; and third, a guide should definitely not get grumpy about fishing his ‘client’s’ second-hand water for no result.
Faced with a slight headwind, casting the fly into the right areas was proving tricky for Aidan and when a good cast was made, drag was wrecking any chance of a trout taking the fly. There are so many ways to ruin a presentation and by the 5th cast to the same spot, the fish had probably cottoned on – they’d seen that same weirdly-behaving hopper before.
Then, around a bend in the river with some shelter from the breeze, Aidan got a good first cast into some pocket water just beneath some overhanging blackberries. Instantly, a trout darted out and took the fly, before just as quickly spitting it out. Clearly, I’d forgotten the striking part of the lesson – another fail for the guide! However, the take itself was a small victory and that gave us all the encouragement we needed. Aidan’s casting was improving and with that, more takes followed.
Then, a yelp of delight from upstream distracted me from watching a large snake disappearing down the current, and told me that Aidan had hooked up. A lovely rainbow had grabbed his hopper and hung on. Two leaps later it was in the net and there were smiles all round. It was certainly more fun seeing Aidan catch a fish than if I’d caught it myself, so perhaps guiding is not so bad after all…
Having got off the mark, Aidan was now in the groove and whilst he missed more trout than he caught, he was casting to the right areas and he landed a few more fish before all too soon, it was time to head back to the cars. As Aidan drove off, his parting words were something about the next trip.
With my ‘client’ gone, I decided to I wander downstream from our starting point for a couple of hours of fishing on my own. And the hopper fishing was a delight. There’s nothing better than seeing a good trout engulf a hopper and I’m sure it was no coincidence that my two best fish of the day came when cows were drinking at the water’s edge just upstream, probably pushing some naturals into the water. A great end to an ultimately satisfying day.