a very dark day needs some light to balance it out. this article cum memoir kindly sent in by Mark Surtees gleams with childhood fears that turn to admiration, magic, the realisation and appreciation that fly fishing is a lot more than just catching fish and most importantly, at least in my eyes, how we as sharers or teachers share and teach our passions. all too often, the what takes over the how but as with light and darkness, one doesn’t really mean anything without the other.
thanks again Mark for giving our readers another gem to reflect on and enjoy.
Was it for fun as a kid on holiday or day trip? Perhaps it was in adolescence to distract you from a life of petty criminality, a developing meth habit or a wicked and dangerous career out on the cultural edge in politics, accountancy or law. Maybe it was as an adult just to help de-stress. Whenever it was, the chances are, one way or another, you were actively taught to fish. Very few people pick up fishing tackle of any description without encouragement and brief instruction from a third party.
My Grandfather taught me. Over cold fishless winters he would sit, black suited, in his high back chair, smoking bitter navy cut cigarettes, sour as wormwood, silent, waiting. Sometimes he looked at me with his old crow eyes and I wondered if he would lean forward and peck out my soul…..he didn’t, but I was only six years old and very, very afraid of him.
One spring, when the grasses were still flat from the snow and the primroses bloomed on the banks, I went with him to fish the local river. We sat among the streamside flowers and I watched him tackle up. He cast a beaten up bamboo rod with a broken tip that was patched with a short length of brass tubing, a greased kingfisher silk line and flies from an old mock tortoiseshell fly box which contained a few nondescript patterns he had tied himself long ago. I could see his fly land on the surface of the water, float a little, then disappear as a trout rose amongst the ripples in the run and took it.
For an impressionable little boy it was an act of unimaginable and astonishing magic, a fish conjured seemingly from nowhere. This relatively simple, deliberate and entirely expected catch on the part of my Grandfather caused a radical and entirely unexpected transformation in my childish opinion of him. I moved instantly from fear to fascination. I was six, he was a caster of spells, so I naturally concluded that he was, very obviously… a Wizard.
I begged him to teach me the magic, and, as I grew up, he did. It was of necessity an inexact, imperfect, ad hoc sort of instruction but it was a gift from Grandfather to Grandson of almost inestimable value. I think he knew that…me? I had no idea and he died long before I realised.
Of course we all know that magic tricks do not happen by accident. They are repeatable, infused with purpose and completely within the control of the magician. Their objective is to deceive, just as ours is to deceive a trout in the stream when we fish.
Whilst, hopefully, we do not seek to actively bamboozle our clients in quite the same way, our lessons too are not, in many respects, significantly different to a well executed trick. If we structure and objectivise them properly then we too may surprise, amaze and delight.
Useful objectives should be observably measurable as far as is reasonably practicable and when we pick them they should be within the power of the student to achieve.
Appropriate selection of these achievable objectives allows students to build a succession of small but consistent learning wins. Each win a learned skill and each learned skill used to develop a new one and/or reinforce an old one.
For an instructor teaching within a “whole, part, whole” schema, it becomes critical to select suitable objectives so that common faults can be actively taught out without introducing negativity to the process. By doing this, within reason of course, new skills can be made to compound and combine largely error free.
That there are objectives for a student is a given. What is not so obvious, or maybe just not so often admitted, is that there are personal objectives for the instructor too. Whilst we may all wear the ego boosting insignia of our qualifications, the official regalia and psycho-protective badgery cannot really mask the ghastly truth, which is that we all, (well, most of us), have the same wonky limbic system and full complement of cognitive frailties as everyone else. So, I too want wins because this gives me a sense of achievement and I know I will instruct better and my student will learn better in a teaching environment which is giving us both positive rather than negative feedback.
In this context, although we clearly need subsets of grimly practical casting targets, there is no need to be emotionally dry with more abstract over-riding aims. Instruction isn’t just about a perfect PULD (Pick Up and Lay Down) or tail free loop, a quintuple toe hauled Jelly Roll or a cast out to the backing knot, it’s also a little bit about making people feel happy.
As a goal, I have to admit that this is very easy to say, not as easy as I ever first imagined to achieve and very difficult to objectively measure. But, sometimes, just sometimes, when you have had to do your very best sorcery to make it all happen, when those casts pop out from the turmoil like my Grandfathers perfect little trout from the ripple in the run, when you are dancing in a monastery garden with a beautiful laughing woman or being hugged by a big beardy biker on a wet suburban rugby pitch when the lessons end, then, you feel happy…and I like that…my Grandfather would have liked it too I think.
Mark Surtees ☺
didn’t originally plan on going geek today but a little research on what this visual effect might be called shows that “The stroboscopic effect is a visual phenomenon caused by aliasing that occurs when continuous motion is represented by a series of short or instantaneous samples. It occurs when the view of a moving object is represented by a series of short samples as distinct from a continuous view, and the moving object is in rotational or other cyclic motion at a rate close to the sampling rate.”
in other words, like dancers at a disco, the subject should be moving in one way or another for us to get the out-of-sync effect whereas the gif above and others i’ve shared here of similar concept; several otherwise static images from a single original photo edited differently and giffed as one seem stroboscopic but aren’t since nothing is actually moving. there are three images in this gif, the colour original, a HDR filter colour version and a black and white version. what appears to be moving is just the eye/mind’s out-of-sync reaction to the different edits.
now, stroboscopic doesn’t have an antonym and i’m not even sure the term would apply anyhow so all i’m left with is a throbbing headache from researching all this whilst this damned landscape of a Pyrenean valley i photographed yesterday keeps on blinking… and i’ll have to leave the title at that. i still hope you like the image, even if it hurts.
if they had laser-scanning microscopic vision but perhaps luckily enough for us, they don’t, or otherwise they’d never be so easily fooled by our silly little flies… 😉
“If you’ve ever wondered how a diving beetle swims through the water or manages to rest just on the surface, the answer is in part because its foot is infinitely more complicated than your own… The photos are made with a confocal laser-scanning microscope capable of “seeing” vast amounts of detail beyond what you might capture with a traditional lens-based microscope.” trés groovy. for more absolutely amazing-mind-bending close-up bug imagery by Igor Siwanowicz click either pic above. enjoy !
be warned, this is amazingly beautiful. one of those natural wonders that keep us wondering. as for the colours, just let them seep in. enjoy !
be sure to visit myLapse‘s page for more filming excellence
was out streamside seeing things that aren’t really there,
when out of the corner of the eye i saw this beautiful little puff look up in my direction and continue towards me picking up wee morsels along the way, chomping them down quickly.
the main camera and tripod where precariously balanced on a pointy boulder so i grabbed a few images of Mr. Mouse with the phone. its not the smallest of phones but i can only imagine that it probably must have seemed as a wall to him but that was neither here nor there for this guy, he was on a mission, a straight-line mission.
here he is bottom-right pushing against the phone to get through ! 😆
take care Mr. Mouse, you made my day.
the quote’s from Doris Lessing, i guess that kinda makes me a dummy and that’s ok.
here’s a little something different from Lee Spencer, way different.
i can relate to Lee’s story as i used to live right next to a wee stream in the french Pyrenees that apart from making lovely gurgling noises, had a very healthy population of gorgeous native brown trout. they weren’t of course, but these where ‘my’ trout if you see what i mean. i’d go look at them every day to see how they where doing, dream off into that dream place that being streamside takes one and of course learned a lot about how they lived, behaved and interacted socially, some of them even had names.
by wee i mean that at this level the stream was often no more than one metre wide. being completely wild and untouched by man and with lush vegetation abound, the stream itself was more often than not a green tunnel with a flow. once the obstacles of actually getting an imitation into their feeding spots where figured out, this being a Bow and Arrow cast nine.nine times out of ten because that was the only possible solution, getting these beauties to take a fly was relatively simple, they didn’t know anything about fishing pressure and in their world things that look like food generally are food but hooking up quickly became a problem, something the Bow and Arrow cast only tactic might have alluded to; there was no room to move the rod up, across or down to fight and land the fish. at this point i was already getting into the ‘it’s more about the strike than the fight and land‘ frame of mind so, the idea of cutting off the whole hook bend of a completed fly came to mind and was perfect for this particular situation.
i got my strike thrill, the little fishies i loved so much never really knew what was going on and remained where they’re supposed to be and i could do all this without breaking any more rod tips…
of course, i’m not expecting a lot of other anglers to go fishing without hooks but it’s a little something to think about. like mentioned earlier, it’s different, enjoy !
“Back in 1998 Lee Spencer did two things that changed his relationship with the big steelhead of the North Umpqua River.
He agreed to become the first full-time FishWatch guardian of the Big Bend Pool on Steamboat Creek, where as many as 400 large steelhead spend the summer in startlingly plain sight after swimming up the North Umpqua to spawn.
And he started cutting the points off the hooks on his flies… “
actually, just the points:
“Everybody thought I was crazy, To me the whole peak of everything is the strike or the boil. Everything after that is downhill. Especially if you have to wait a long time to land the fish.
When you get a fish on, you get a run and a jump and at the jump it will throw the hook. That was satisfying enough for me.”
-click the image for the complete article on Deseret News-