In Presentation Fly-Fishing, Lucas offers a fascinating and quite personal history of the last few decades of competition fly fishing. I found myself reading this for the history of styles and tactics, catching glimpses of how competition fishing changed and influenced the way I fish now.
I am not a competition fisher, but competition techniques and styles are influential, and we non-competitive types tend to lag a few years behind while techniques are worked out, tested and evaluated by competition teams: for example, many of us now fish a short line, plunking a team of heavy nymphs or bugs into a swim. Bugging and Czech Nymph techniques came directly or indirectly from competition anglers influenced by Polish and Czech competition anglers. More recently, French Leader, tenkara and leader-to-hand styles were explored, developed and adopted early by competition anglers. Now, a few years later, those styles and tactics are gaining traction among the rest of us as purpose made tackle becomes readily available.
If you want some insight into how and why top competitive anglers added those tactics and others to their armoury, Lucas may well have an explanation. Lucas has a clear take on the influences which in the past led top competition anglers to expand and develop their fishing repertoire and what they fish(ed) with, rods, lines and flies. Similarly, he points to what is happening now and will be influencing tackle and fishing for the next few years.
I am in no doubt that Lucas is right that competition fishing influences the wider fly fishing community. It may be important to note that not all fly fishers have been or will be attracted to these developments. We hobby anglers are not compelled to adopt a fishing style – I can easily savour a day fishing a floating line with dries or wets when a more driven angler might pull blobs and a sinking line and catch more fish. Moreover, competition fishing is not the only influence on how we fish, far from it.
As I read Presentation Fly-Fishing, I found myself disagreeing with some technical points. For example, Lucas’ take on AFTMA (now AFFTA) compliant fly lines and the match between rods and line – tackle makers/designers each have a house method of rating rods, AFTMA is a line standard and does not set a relationship between a line of a given weight and the rod rated to cast that line – that is up to the tackle maker in the first place, and the angler when he/she chooses a fly line to match their rod. I have an unusual interest in tackle so perhaps some sections of the book hold my interest more than most.
I can just scratch the surface of Presentation Fly-Fishing here because his scope is broad; Lucas explores the mental and physical demands of competition fishing, explains his philosophy of flies, why and how he ties the flies in his box – then explores how he approaches a couple of waters.
Clearly, this book will appeal to competition fly fishers, but it’s a mine of information. I am no competition fisher but I found myself challenged to think, to wanting to try this and see if that works for me.
This book is a serious fishing discussion/memoir by one of the best competition anglers.
Presentation Fly-Fishing By Jeremy Lucas
Published by Robert Hale
Price: £18.99 (softback)