Fly fishing: Knee jerk reaction

Roger Beck casting a line.
Roger Beck casting a line.
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You will recall that, last month, I alluded to an arthritic knee that was preventing me from taking full advantage of the fishing opportunities on North Uist. That situation is in the process of being resolved.

Soon after we returned home, I accepted an invitation from Clifton Hospital in York, to have a new knee fitted. Mr Gibbon, my surgeon, described it as creating a matching pair with the one that he installed three years ago.

Ballon caddis fly dressed by Stephen Cheetham.

Ballon caddis fly dressed by Stephen Cheetham.

It’s a funny old business; out of theatre at around half past four on Monday afternoon and by eight o’clock my nurse is “suggesting” that I should try standing up, albeit with the aid of a walking frame. Tuesday morning the physiotherapist turns up, all smiles and bonhomie, but I’m not fooled.

Have you noticed that all physios have a pleasant and cheerful demeanour that belies the fact that their purpose in life is to inflict pain and suffering? So, after being “encouraged” to bend my new knee to ninety degrees, I was “invited” for a walk along the corridor. There followed a couple more walks on Tuesday, walking frame replaced by sticks and on Wednesday morning I was “offered the opportunity” to walk up and down stairs. On Wednesday afternoon, they sent me home.

The discharge information made it clear that for three months I should not participate in line dancing or golf; as I would rather pull out all my own teeth than do either, this did not concern me. Nowhere on the document did it say that I could not go fishing! Three weeks after the re-furb. I was sitting by the river on a lovely warm August evening.

I had carefully chosen a section where the firm bank gently slopes into the river bed of fine gravel with no big stones to trip over. I know this part of the river well and I was confident that my knowledge of the river’s features would yield a fish; all I needed was just one fish to make my day.

There was, however, a problem; the varying flow of water between myself and the fish prevented me from presenting the balloon caddis fly naturally. Despite all sorts of fancy casting tricks, the fly dragged over the head of my quarry. Wild fish are simply not fooled by this unnatural behaviour.

So, I tied a little nymph to the bend of the balloon caddis, and floated the duo over the fish. Regular submergences of the caddis, indicated that the fish were intercepting my nymph. Three trout and two grayling were a wonderful beginning to my convalescence.

Seriously, I am well aware that my rapid return to the river is a tribute to the expertise and dedication of the physiotherapists. You are all lovely people, really.

Inset: Balloon Caddis Fly dressed by Stephen Cheetham. 0113 2507244.