5 comments on “FOR THE WANT OF A NAME

  1. “Peter, Savs says it’s a useless fly.”

    “No, you see”, I explained, with beads of sweat forming on my forehead, “that’s not what I said”, I continued, bound in the knowledge that it was a fairly accurate recollection of my comment, “I think it’s a very good fly”, I stammered, trying to ignore the mental image of a sailor swept overboard and treading water over an infinite depth of water, “I just haven’t had, you know, much personal success with it”.

    In truth, I’d fished the damned thing for hours and hours without having a single of our trouts so much as raising whatever the equivalent of a fishy eyebrow is in their direction. They didn’t exactly ‘cock a snoot’ at it, they just behaved as though it wasn’t there at all.

    I persevered, because it’s a cool looking bug, but eventually I relegated them to that corner of my box where good ideas inevitably go to die. There’s a fair number of flies in there too. Patterns that started life in my box with bold assurances, if not actual guarantees. Prince nymphs in particular, sundry cdc emergers and all manner of patterns that everyone, with the exception of me, seem to snag fish on. Believe me, I put the hours in but I somehow didn’t, as commentators are wont to remark when a batsman scores a duck, “trouble the scorer”. Like most batsmen who score a duck (can you actually ‘score’ a duck?) I’m sure that my failing was more in my technique as it certainly wasn’t any lack of intent.

    Fast forward to last Saturday where a warm and bright Saturday morning found us, reverberating with excitement, on the footpath to the Smalblaar river in the Western Cape. Darryl, with his impossibly well-trained eyes, spotted a fish holding and feeding in a small aperture in the overhanging shrubs on the left bank. As luck would have it I was, as they say, “up”.

    He suggested a wolf spider and was met with a raised eyebrow and stony grimace from me and a giggle from that wretched tattle-tale, Mather.

    While he was not, strictly, a guide I remembered to listen to him and dutifully, if not a little reticently, tied a wolf spider to the point of my long cast and, throwing common sense to the wind, took aim at a target that all at once appeared to become smaller, tighter and much, much further away. One of an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of typewriters are, and I confess that I haven’t actually done the maths, apparently capable of writing the complete works of Shakespeare and I, monkey that I am, after several attempts pulled off the cast and drift, got an eat, didn’t blow the set, negotiated through the sticks a feisty rainbow on the end of a thin tippet and, a while later, landed it. I’m pretty happy with how it worked out, but put me back there and I’d go with the odds and wouldn’t put a cent on my metaphorical horse.

    The fly was eaten confidently. If you aren’t a fly fisher, don’t pay sufficient attention to such things or fish with the sort of ironmongery that has become synonymous with modern flyfishing you probably won’t understand what I’m saying, but the pattern was eaten with a solid confidence. It went on, over the next two days, to continue to be eaten confidently. This is, to me, the mark of a great pattern.

    The fly floats well, is very visible and takes very little maintenance. It holds up well to being bitten and it survived the repeated abuse that I inflicted on it in what were often tight casting quarters very well indeed. It is mechanically well designed in the sense that it floats the right way up and isn’t just good for photos on the vice.

    So here we go, Peter. You have my unreserved apology. It’s a great pattern.


    As a side note, I see the pattern tied with slight variations and being passed off as something unique. This is an aspect of our Instagram world that I don’t get, this need to name patterns that are, at best, minor variations to a recognized pattern and to bestow on them hitherto unthinkable levels of fish-tempting ability when the damned thing has probably never, ever been wet. So, when I read your remark about the naming of your patterns I smile – authenticity is a rare thing in these times and I’m pleased to say that you personify it.

    • Savs, apology duly accepted. 😱😁 What matters most is that you have overcome the phobia 🕸 😂

      Thank you for such a well-written and lucid explanation of the alleged derogatory statement by “Tattle-tale” Mather. From arachnophobia to success.

      Let me know if you need more, Mather did. 🕷🕷🕷

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