Roger Beck: Fly fishing

WINTRY weather bores into my bones. My family put it down to age, but that can’t be right, can it? Anyway, whatever the reason, I’m swapping hemispheres for a few weeks, so I shall be leaving you in Steve’s capable hands.

By the time I return, I am confident that it will be warming up nicely in Yorkshire and that spring will be in the air and the first fly hatches of the year will be well under way. In my mind’s eye I can see the bank side trees lightly washed with that brightest of shimmering, freshly painted green that only newly-burst buds can boast. I can almost hear the chatter of the birds as they go about their business, flitting into the hedge rows, weaving the magic of their latest nests.

Hmm! On the other hand, we might be up to the oxters in snow again and lashed by north easterlies that continue to permeate my person. Time will tell; I shall live in hope.

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If the weather is the slightest bit clement, I shall make my way over to Lockwood Beck fishery. Our first fly fishing course of the year is in mid- April; I shall certainly test the waters myself before then.

Without a doubt, the Okey Dokey buzzer will be one of the flies that adorns my leader in the early part of the season. The strictly traditionalists out there might like to grasp something firm now to prevent them from quivering. I shall also attach a bit of brightly painted polystyrene to my line. It will bob about, like a beacon and will inform me when a fish has made off with my fly. Generally speaking this contraption is known as a strike indicator. Another description might simply be to call it a float.

Now, I don’t have a problem with that, but some anglers assure me that it’s more like bait fishing than fly fishing; that it undermines skills and so it should be banned. Each to his own, but just try casting said bit of plastic against the gentlest of breezes, then we’ll see where the skill comes in.

The other thing is that without this visual assistance, the fish can bite on your buzzer without you even knowing about it. Some would say that’s cheating too. In that case, resign from your angling club and join a fish preservation society.

The other thing that upsets some folk is that the Okey Dokey bears a striking resemblance to a maggot and, by that very fact, has no place in a fly box. Talking of maggots, I have a confession to make. Last season, I had a few days’ fishing with my old mate Robbie. Now, Robbie specialises in maggots; he even has a special fridge in his garage to keep them in. Now, both my wife and Robbie’s wife seem to think that there is some kind of problem associated with handling maggots and then eating pork pies. So, each of us was furnished with sterile wipes. We were more or less ordered to wipe away the maggot debris before lunching. I’ll cut to the chase. I’m afraid that we both chucked one, unused, little cloth away every time we went fishing. Pork pie jelly makes maggots even more attractive to fish. Sorry.

Flies dressed by Stephen Cheetham. 0113 2507244.

Roger Beck 01439 788483.