Over the years I have met many anglers that tread different paths, some have become friends who I now fish with, and others I have talked with on the subject but have never made it to the waterside. Amongst these anglers I can single out a few that I label as the ‘pure piscators’, these are anglers who hold a real close connection with a place and a first-hand knowledge that is cherished, and on occasions, shared.
One such ‘pure piscator’ I met about ten years ago was the colonel (the father of an old girlfriend) who fished the Nadder for brown trout. His world on the Nadder was small but complete, his relationship with the river and the trout was intimate, when he immersed himself in the practice of dry-fly fishing he was content, it was pure. On my first visit to the Nadder I took down a collection of dry flies bought from Farlows of Pall Mall (when the flies came in a little complimentary round tin), the colonel was quite overwhelmed with the gift and added them to his box of disheveled looking dry flies, but I could sense he felt these new flies were interlopers amongst his own flies, each one of his flies had a history, a track record, the new ‘boys’ from London had to prove their worth on ‘his river.’ As a potential son-in-law I too was on trial as I entered this small world below the chalk hills of Wiltshire, my approach and attitude to the river was carefully monitored as my host put me on the right spots to fish. After an hour I started to catch some small grayling much to the disappointment of the colonel, he only considered the brown trout to be worthy of a bend in my rod, he loved the Nadder and the brown trout but grayling were not part of his world. The colonel’s tackle and casting was a little below par, but his attention to the tippet, and the delivery of the fly cast in the right places was faultless, everything else did not matter. Anyone who knows the Nadder (rumour goes the Nadder gets its name from the many tight bends, just like an adder snake) will understand that casting is limited to only a few yards; there was no need for expensive reels or rods. It seems a common trait that the pure piscator uses simple and reliable gear, normally tried and tested over the years, their real strength lie with experience and knowledge, their minds are not clouded by tackle manufacturer’s promises of guaranteed catches or gimmicks. To some extent I have been guilty of this, spending years accumulating fishing tackle, (be it mainly vintage). In a moment of ‘pure piscatorialism’ I have given away or sold a lot of the tackle that I just didn’t use including a ridiculous amount of fishing jackets. Now with less tackle I can concentrate on the important things, the way I fishing.