fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

fly fishing: a great equalizer


Be honest. This is often the way we imagine it could have happened. Standing in a river in early May, maybe June, the fish are still eager and maybe still a bit stupid. The spot you’ve chosen offers a clear cast to riffles only half a dozen yards long. The weather is cool enough to encourage the wearing of that old, long-sleeve flannel shirt. The bright sun is blocked by a classic wool walking hat; the one that lends the wearer a certain swagger. The patches of aspen, peaking out between the Jeffery and piñon pines, are once again covered with bright green leaves.

It wouldn’t be too difficult to cast from here, and you consider it, but you are new to the sport and the desire to properly and softly present the fly requires a few more steps. The trout slowly and quietly slurp Baetis duns. You check your leader, eyeing its length and looking for any nicks or knots that would give away your fly as a fake.

You cast the fly into a seam you think will carry it past the closest edge of the feeding fish. The fly slips around one rock, then another. To keep the drift realistic, you lift your rod tip to keep as much line off the water as possible. Everything looks and feels right. The fly disappears, and without thinking, and an imperceptible pause, you set the hook. If time allowed, there’d be a debate as to who was more surprised, you or the fish.

All of this positioning and decision-making doesn’t take as long as it seems, except that it takes great effort to ensure that everything is perfect for the woman watching from the bank. She sits on a checkerboard blanket, the remnants of a picnic scattered about. Her classic beauty competes with the trout for your attention. She smiles, impressed, as the rainbow trout glistens in the sunlight, before you carefully return it to the water.

However, unless you’re luckier than the rest of us, reality is much different…even for better-looking people, particularly those who’ve just learned to cast a fly.

Ewan McGregor took Hollywood actress Emily Blunt fly fishing – and she ended up catching his dog.

The Crieff-born actor was in Scotland last year filming Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, about a fisheries scientist who tries to bring the sport to the Middle East.

Ewan was showing off his newly acquired casting skills to Emily…

He said: “All the actors stayed in this beautiful little house. They had a pond down at the bottom of the garden and some rods and both Amr Waked, who is also in the movie, and I had learnt to fly fish.

“We were showing off because we were trying to impress Emily with our fly fishing skills – ‘Look, you do it like this, don’t bendy our wrist, no, that’s right…’

“And she caught my dog who was running around behind. She hooked him. She didn’t catch any fish but she did catch my dog.”

– via


3 thoughts on “fly fishing: a great equalizer

  1. Hollywood good looks clearly have no bearing on a person’s ability to cast well, or succeed as a fly angling person. It is, however, beneficial if you can benefit from one or the other. Unfortunately I wouldn’t know about that. Let’s ask April Vokey…

  2. I’m not sure a mention of Vokey in the comments section would help much — not like a gratuitous mention in the post, for example.

    Or a picture. A great big one.

    Just saying.

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