These islands have a rich angling heritage. Not the least of which is a near-lost tradition of fixed line fly fishing.
Recorded in manuscripts dating back to the 15th Century, fixed line fly fishing was in all probability already long established by this time. Certainly by Charles Cotton’s day in the 1600’s, ultralight tippets, long casting lines and fine presentations were a desired paragon. But two centuries later on, economic, social and technological changes had moved angling along to a different place, with fixed line fly to become but a fading memory.
Ironically though, it is technological advances in rod and line development that have made fixed line fly fishing viable once again – and an accessible and hugely enjoyable approach for the modern angler.
A near-lost tradition then, but one with a glimmer of hope for revival. In the last decade, a new generation of pioneering anglers have imported an obscure and exotic fixed line fly fishing style across from Japan. Tenkara – a beautifully refined, delicate and effective taker of trout. Tenkara in essence I’m sure, would have felt very familiar to Charles Cotton and Izaak Walton.
So tenkara has given me the means in tackle and approach to reconnect with our ‘lost’ tradition of fixed line fly fishing. I’m borrowing the best of modern tenkara tackle and techniques and learning new non-tenkara approaches too to catching our native fish species with a fixed line fly.
So for me, when I fish the river this way, the river that Charles Cotton and Izaak Walton fished, the river is made of time and we are connected. A chance, in modern terms, to fish as our forbears did and share something of their excitement and the challenges they conquered. I would be delighted if you would care to join me.
David West Beale