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Fishing with flies

Fishing with flies

Geoff Hall

Geoff Hall, co-owner of Goulburn valley Fly Fishing Centre, Thornton
Geoff Hall, co-owner of Goulburn valley Fly Fishing Centre, Thornton. Photo: Nick Drayson.

'The reason you'd use a fly is that for probably 2000 years people have used flies. And it requires a degree of skill. When you fish with a bait, you place it on the bottom of the river and it smells. The fish will locate it and eat it, and the hook will go down into their stomach and they can't escape. So you catch your fish and you eat it. When you fish with a fly you represent the actual food that fish eat, not some smelly powerbait. Some are natural representations, like a mud-eye, that's fine. But I don't think a fish has ever discovered a maggot in the water. Well, maybe a dead cow or something like that. However, fly fishing is about the opportunity to immerse yourself in nature, whereby you actually enter the element of water. Pristine waters, brilliant, wild environments, and if the water's cool and clean and oxygen-rich, full of insects, then you've got the great location for trout. That's what we have here in north-east Victoria. It's just a wonderful place.

And that's what people miss. They get locked in stainless steel and glass towers in Melbourne, stuck in front of computer screens in air-conditioned offices and cars, and surround sound and digital television at home. But contact with a wild creature, to hold it in your hand, to make a decision about life and death - and something dies every time we eat - to choose to take it home and eat it or to let it go and swim free so that someone else can catch it, or so this fish can live out its life in happiness - there's nothing better. It's the best fun you can have standing up.'

Audio and transcript

audio_w15 Listen to more from Geoff on the magic of fly fishing (MP3 492kb)
Duration: 2 minutes, 5 seconds

I watched a person fly fishing and that lyrical curve of a fly line floating through the air in the sunset is enough to shatter the heart of any romantic, so I was immediately captured by this notion of fly fishing. I had to learn how to do it. I caught trout a hundred ways and I could do it at will. But when I saw fly fishing I thought, 'I've got to learn how to do that'. I was intoxicated. I have been ever since. It's taken me all around the world. I fish every day of my life and I introduce people to it every day of my life, so I'm severely infected. I'm a terminal case. I need three lifetimes to do the amount of fly fishing that I want. And I've only got one, so I'm packing it in as fast as I can go. However, the important thing is, it immerses you in nature - I mentioned this before. You are at one with all the elements - the wind, the sound of the water, bird sound. It's dressing up in rubber and standing in water - you can't beat it. It is wonderful.

And the magic of it is, when a representation of an insect is cast on the water the fish has to decide whether it's real or not. So he swims up, inspects it carefully, takes it in his mouth, and then will spit it straight out again. 'Ptwooo, what was that?' And the magic in fly fishing is, that two or three seconds between when he takes it his mouth and when you hook him. Sometimes you miss, sometimes you connect, sometimes he's ejected it before you can hook him. So you have this mental battle with the fish about: I've deceived him into taking it into his mouth - now can I hook him? Then there's a battle, and that means that once you've captured your fish you can release him, because he's only hooked on the front of the mouth, which is bony and calloused, and you can just remove the hook and let him swim away unharmed. So you get this choice of life and death over this beautiful creature.