If you follow my social media accounts you will have seen that a couple of weeks ago I attended a fishing event hosted by the amazing team at Sportfish & Farlows Travel.
Now, fishing isn't something I would normally consider doing, and so when I got the invitation from the lovely ladies at Bloxham PR to visit the team in Theale, Reading and learn how to fly fish, I jumped at the chance.
I love to try new things and to challenge myself, and the prospect of a days fly fishing was certainly a new challenge.
I must have been the perfect candidate for the guys in their mission to introduce and encourage more ladies to join the world of fly fishing, because I had absolutely no clue what to expect and was pretty confident I would make an utter tit of myself or at least get a fly lodged somewhere I would rather it wasn't.
I had never even seen a 'fly' before.
The morning started rainy and miserable - typical British weather, I was unsure if you can fish in the rain? Does it affect the fish? Or the ability to fish?
FACT: Yes, to an extent, the fish feel the vibrations of the rain drops on the water and react to the change in temperature making them less active and so less likely to be out and about ready to take the bait (My rookie understanding, I am sure instructors Mat and Robin will correct me if I am wrong!).
The flys are oddly beautiful, there are a huge array for all sorts of reasons, to mimic the look of live bait. The amount of detail on each one was amazing, I can't begin to imagine the amount of time it takes to make these.
It was incredible to hear the tales and stories from Mat & Chris' fishing experiences from all over the world. I could have sat for hours with my warm cup of coffee listening to them describing the adventures fly fishing had taken them on, however the rain had stopped so it was time to get stuck in.
Outside on the grass we practiced a couple of basic techniques before being let loose on the lake with spiky flys being thrown around. We were a small group so it allowed for some much needed one on one guidance.
It was a lot harder than I had anticipated, there is a real art to fly fishing that I never really appreciated before. You see these gents throwing their line around seeming to be 'getting somewhere' when in truth they aren't throwing it around at all, they just make it look simple.
Thanks to Sportfish instructors Mat Holden & Robin Elwes after about an hour or so of practicing the technique, I was deemed safe enough to be let loose with a fly attached to the end.
I had been getting quite confident with the method, however it was a totally different feeling once their was a fly on the end.
Unfortunately I didn't catch anything myself, I had a few escapees, however Kaylie and Chris (@chissayer00) managed to catch a couple.
In true country style Kaylie cooked hers up for dinner the following evening.
I think you'll agree with me it looked super yummy! There is something about catching/shooting something and then cooking at eating it.
Although I didn't catch anything, the experience was so much fun! It was lovely to challenge myself and learn something new!
I went on quite a drizzly day and still managed to thoroughly enjoy myself, just imagine getting the girls together on a Summer's day, complete with prosecco and a BBQ ready and raring to cook what you catch. The team were amazing, talking us through every step with patience and encouragement.
If you're interested in finding out more - see their website here.
The stigma around fly fishing...
There is definitely a view taken on those who fish... they're boring & old.
I was guilty of it, when I thought of fishing, I would automatically think of elderly chaps, in full fishing attire, sitting alone, in silence all day waiting seemingly for paint to dry. But this is totally wrong....my experience has totally changed my perception.
Is it social? Yes, we were constantly chatting and cheering each other on when it looked like someone might have a 'bite'.
Is it boring? Quite the opposite, you're active, almost constantly casting. There is always something to be doing. It isn't like watching paint dry. Once you cast your line out into the water, you wait a short time for the fly to sink to the bottom, and then you begin reeling the line in, trying different techniques to tease the fish and stir the water.
Do you need to be an old chap? Most certainly not.
These three ladies are avid fly fishers and prove just that, you don't need to be an old chap to fly fish.
Pictures left to right: @whitney_walleye_slayer, Tessa Shetter & Kory Robbins
Thank you so much for such an amazing experience Sportfish UK & Farlows Travel.
Also, Bloxham PR, the day couldn't have been done without you girls.
Hopefully I have inspired you a little, to consider trying your hand at fly fishing. Trust me, its good fun.
(Sorry not sorry!)
Until next time,
Lots of love,
(Violet Stopford, Mat Holden, Nadia Dunn-Hill, me & Robin Elwes)