One of the greatest regrets that I have about getting old is the deteriorating eyesight that pre
vents me from tying fishing flies which was a hobby that afforded me so much pleasure for so many years.
I tied a great many flies and gave a lot away as well as selling some and even exporting some.
Looking through a big box of flies, nymphs and lures that I tied years ago, I was struck by the fact that so many of the flies that we use now were unheard of until recent times and so many of the patterns that we once used are hardly ever used now.
Comparatively old patterns like worm flies and alexandras and many other patterns are almost unheard of by angling youngsters of today and patterns that were very often used in more recent times such as sweeney todd and polystickle and the once top pattern, baby doll, have been forgotten.
Some of the more modern patterns, including the marabou feathered lures, the imitative nymphs and dry flies are excellent, but do not let us fool ourselves that the old-time flies would not catch fish today, for that is a silly idea. I have believed for a long time now that apart from a few offerings that have certain fish-attracting properties at certain times of the year, the actual choice of artificial fly, and the choice of bait for coarse fishing too for that matter, is far less important than other factors like taking care not to scare the fish and honing our angling skills.
To the annoyance of some readers who have challenged me in the past when I have written about 'flavours' in baits I will repeat what I believe after contacting three different professional fish biologists on the matter.
They tell me that flavours are a mixture of scents or smells and one or other of the few detectable tastes.
Fish can taste and they can smell but true flavours are a mixture of taste and scent that can only be detected by animals, incuding humans, that have interconnected mouths and nostrils.
Fish, so I am told, cannot detect flavours. This is strange because the scientists that write about the subject in publications aimed at anglers still see the pages of those same publications filled with features advocating flavoured baits for fishing.