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Should Gordon get a booby prize for this too efficient invention? angling 'Fly' flies in face of convention.

Byline: MOC MORGAN

FISHING is an ever-changing sport and I cannot but wonder what our forefathers would think of our modern fishing tackle?

I'm sure they would all be delighted with the light, modern rods and the highly efficient fishing lines we now use - and indeed tend to take for granted. I'm not so sure, though, what they would make of our flies.

It's amazing how readily we fork out for a Sage rod that costs more than pounds 500 and a fly fishing line that costs over pounds 40, yet tend to object to the cost and ignore the importance of the most effective item of our fishing tackle - the fly.

This is the very item that actually catches the fish. If the fly does not deceive the fish then the rest of the equipment - rod, line and leader - are of no benefit.

Today on many of our big reservoirs you can be assured that most of the anglers fishing in the boats and from the banks will have a "booby" fly on their leader.

If you were to ask them why they think the fish goes for a booby, I doubt if they would have a rational answer.

A booby is a fairly new-- innovation fly. Its body is tied using any of a variety of colourful silks, furs, fritz or any other synthetic material and at the front it has two small but prominent "eye-balls" made of buoyant ethafoam.

In the past, fly-fishing was always based on the principle of creating something to imitate a living insect and presenting the imitation in a way that would deceive the fish. In order to succeed, anglers would have to study the aquatic fly life - what fly was hatching and what flies were falling onto the water and then imitate them with feather, fur and silk wound on a hook.

Boobies - though not representing any living insect - or any living thing are easily the number one flies for catching fish these days.

Having said that one has to add that some anglers are more successful than others at using them and this is probably to do with presentation.

I have asked anglers for their views on the efficiency of the boobies and a high number believe it all has to do with the action of the booby as it moves in the water. When anglers pull on a sinking line the booby is somehow pulled deeper in the water and when the angler stops pulling the ethafoam it makes it float up in the water. This technique ensures that the booby moves up and down in the water and this undulating movement is far more visible to the fish than if the offering was moving on the same plane.

Some anglers, including the author, believe that the booby can be too good at times. It is without doubt the most versatile fly ever and great credit must go to Gordon Fraser who invented it.

One question I would have for the inventor is why the fish always swallows the booby. In swallowing it the fish takes it down into the throat making it difficult to release the fish back into the water unharmed. Some waters have banned its use because of this. When checking the size and type of fly used by anglers in our national fly-fishing trials it is astounding how many now use the booby - you can almost count the non-booby users on the fingers of one hand and most of those competing are the best fly fishers in Wales.

In several sports there have been new discoveries or new designs of tools or equipment that have revolutionised things with the sport assuming a new dimension.

One can surely compare the arrival of the booby on the fishing scene to the arrival of the spinning reel in the 1940s - something which made it much easier to fish and in turn led to more and more fish being caught. The downside to this was that the trout stocks diminished greatly and it is doubtful if they have recovered since. In fact some discerning anglers described the spinning reel as "the invention of the devil".

There is no doubt that the booby is extremely effective - but the question is whether it will damage fish stocks because of its effectiveness - hence opposition to it.

Its creation was undoubtedly amazing - but Gordon Fraser, a wise and wonderful angler, now wishes he had not invented the booby to fish the waters of his native fishery - the delightful Eyebrook reservoir.

The question remains open for all anglers to answer in their own honest way - are you - or are you not - a booby man?

CAPTION(S):

BOOBY OR NOT BOOBY? That is the question for fly fishermen, whether to use the super-effective lure and risk damaging fish stocks or not
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 31, 2009
Words:805
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