reflections of an old fly fisher.
One of my great ideals has been the late George Edward Mackensie Skues – the father of nymph-fishing. Not only has the reading of his books been a well of inspiration; but also in my later years I have got some resemblance with him. Skues lost a high degree of his vision on one of his eyes in his youth; but in spite of this he tied very dainty little flies and fished even at an old age. I myself had a loosening of the retina on one eye; but fortunately a failure in ‘the system’ send me to a hospital, where the chief also was a fly fisher – and he made a marvellous good job. Afterwards I had difficulties estimating things position at close range. I could see the eye of even a small hook and also the tiny tip of the cast – but put the one through the other could take many minutes. Friends nearby offered their help; but that was not an acceptable solution. Then I found out to press the eye of the hook into the pulpa (opposite the nail) of my left index finger and then guide the tip of the cast along the surface of the finger into the eye – and it worked – I had changed a three dimension to a two-dimension problem.
As an old Danish professor said: It’s no problem to live when one is healthy – the art is to have a good life in spite of the handicaps that come with age.
There are also the problems with knots. I have nearly always used Turle’s knot to tie the fly to the leader and it can be done even with not so good eyesight. I had more troubles tying two pieces of nylon together as a part of making a leader (I have always made my own leaders using the specifications in Charles C. Ritz’s book “Pris sur le Vif”. Paris 1953 and I haven’t seen any advantage with the so-called spun or weaved leaders – full of troubles and great wind-resistance).
I use most often double blood-knots to tie two pieces of nylon together – if they are nearly the same calibre – but it can be a problem to place a thin tip through the opening between the two twisted lines. Therefore I press thumb and index finger on my left hand tight round the twist so that I keep a wide loop open and by this it’s easier to find the gap. With age one not only get a problem with vision but also with the other senses and among them the ‘fingerspitsgefühl’ – one can ‘feel’ with the end of a heavy piece of nylon; but not with a thin one!
Then we come to the other parts of our tackle – as the Danish artist and fly-fisher, Svend Saabye , said to me: “The carbon salmon rods have prolonged my life as a fly-fisher with at least ten years!”. I can say the same concerning the Cul de Canard-flies.
They float so high on the water that even I can see it on
‘troubled water’, even I haven’t seen it land.
I have had the privilege to make their ‘acquaintance’
already in 1972, when I was asked to translate a letter from Docteur Yves
Rameaux, France for T. Donald Overfield, when he should make a new edition of C.
Courtney Williams’ famous book “A Dictionary of Trout Flies”. Rameaux
gives the pattern for a fly he called ‘Duck and Cock Dun’ hackled with a
feather from the rump of a duck and behind that wound another hackle from a
cock, close up behind it to ‘support it’. People in the Jura-mountains had
used this type of flies for many years and kept it by themselves. The French
prof. fly-tier Aimé Devaux had at that time used it for many years.
Now these feathers – and they are on all poultry and ducks and geese – are used immensely and people make a lot of new creations with them.