“Now, Mr Beck, what demands do you place upon your eyesight?” asked the youthful optometrist.
“I need to be able to see something half the size of a match head on rippled water at 25 yards,” I replied without hesitation.
The 14-year-old looked me squarely in the myopic eyes and with a pleasant smile helpfully informed me that, “it’s a big ask from someone of your age.”
I admit that I may have bristled a bit behind the plethora of optical paraphernalia that rested precariously on my face, but I was slightly mollified when she raised a well-groomed eyebrow, fiddled with a new lens and continued, with a modicum of sincerity, “but we will certainly try.”
To the fly fisher, sharp vision is essential to success. The ubiquitous F fly - see my column from October 2007 - is incredibly effective. Unfortunately, its natural, subtle colouring makes it extremely difficult to see on shady water.
May I be allowed a word of advice? Work hard at achieving very accurate casting skills, watch your fly alight on the water and then, under no circumstances, take your eye off it.
There are, of course, ways in which the visually challenged can gain the upper hand. Currently, it is a closely guarded secret but Steve and I are due in the Dragon’s Den with an invention that we think will revolutionise the fly fisher’s world forever. We are working in close collaboration with a famous fly line manufacturer and their distributer.
Please, let this go no further, but we have already found a way of incorporating a microscopically thin flexible, electricity conducting carbon filament into the core of the line. This has no effect upon its performance, though we did tweak the density of the plastic coating in order to maintain floatability.
The greatest challenge was to continue the electrical conductivity along the length of the leader. This was finally achieved by incorporating a lattice of graphene into the hydrogen bonds of the leader’s long chain polymer.
To accomplish the same outcome for fluorocarbon leaders will be a challenge. Whilst the strength of the carbon-fluorine bond contributes linear stability, the carbon has a higher partial positive charge which impedes the flow of electrons. We shall continue to persevere.
Having achieved a means of conducting a low voltage electrical current along the line and leader, the metallic nature of the fly hook ensures continuity of electrical impulse to the body of the fly.
A minute flashing LED can be incorporated into the abdomen of the F fly; the colour of the emission can be varied according to changing light conditions, so the whereabouts of the fly is always obvious.
The final design amalgamates a tiny hearing aid battery into the frame of the reel, which powers the whole system. Eventually we hope to introduce a modification that uses bluetooth technology and can be controlled by an app. This may take us another couple of years, but, hopefully, the new fly line will be with your retailer by the end of this month.
So, for the first couple of weeks of the season, tie a bit of snow shoe hare fur above the wing of your F fly; it increases the visibility no end.