This year’s Lon­don Fly Fish­ing Fair was a ‘who’s who’ for Peter Cock­will who met so many names, past and present, who’ve shaped the sport

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

Peter meets up with old friends and makes new ones at the Lon­don Fly Fish­ing Fair

AT­TEND­ING a big fish­ing show is as much about meet­ing up with the stars of the fish­ing world as it is to see the lat­est gear, watch the ranks of fly ty­ers or check out the op­tions for a once-in-a-life­time hol­i­day. I must ad­mit that that’s how I felt at this year’s Lon­don Fly Fish­ing Fair when the leg­endary Taff Price was be­ing hero-wor­shiped by all those who re­spect the sta­tus of this great man. He gave so much to fly ty­ing through his in­no­va­tive pat­terns, his many books, his hugely pop­u­lar talks and not least through his links with John Ve­niard, Don­ald Downs and David Jac­ques when to­gether they set up a re­tail mail or­der ma­te­ri­als com­pany in Kent. It quickly be­came a Mecca for ty­ers and es­pe­cially for the Satur­day morn­ing classes when a reg­u­lar group of young­sters gath­ered. Some went on to be­come per­son­al­i­ties in their own right and it was lovely to see Taff and Howard Tay­lor, who owns Up­stream Dry Fly, to­gether again, after so many years. A spe­cial mo­ment in­deed. The fly-fish­ing world is ac­tu­ally quite small and most peo­ple know each other. It is lovely to see gen­uine, honest peo­ple be­come gi­ants in this pro­fes­sion. One such is Bar­rie Wel­ham whose fish­ing skills are in­com­pa­ra­ble, but it’s his con­tri­bu­tion to the tackle trade that stands him in such high hon­our. When I started a re­tail fly shop more than 30 years ago it was Bar­rie who took the time to give me honest, sen­si­ble ad­vice. This year I was sched­uled for a 15 minute talk at the Show and to see Bar­rie in the au­di­ence was a gen­uine hon­our. Af­ter­wards, when I thanked him for the ac­co­lade, we both had tears in our eyes. He’s a truly great man. My ap­pear­ance fol­lowed on from Edward Barder whose split cane rods are ex­quis­ite and his ex­ten­sive wait­ing list was eas­ily ex­plained by watch­ing his talk and the de­vo­tion he puts into ev­ery stage of a cane rod’s con­struc­tion.

Meet­ing and greet­ing

Manning a booth (I was rep­re­sent­ing Ar­gentina’s La­guna Verde Lodge as well as show­cas­ing my new home of Dever Springs), proved to be quite an un­der­tak­ing. I have done it be­fore but do find the days to be in­cred­i­bly tir­ing and I couldn’t have done it with­out my wife Sue who is a much bet­ter ‘peo­ple per­son’ than me. Shak­ing hands, talking fish­ing and catch­ing up on gos­sip is a huge part of fish­ing shows and all it took was a wel­com­ing hug from Charles Jar­dine on day one to put us both in good spir­its. I would have loved to have watched his cast­ing demos but never got the chance. Like­wise, I wanted to sneak some tips by watch­ing my long-time friend Hywel Mor­gan. Maybe next year. This is a name drop­ping col­umn that’s for sure and hon­estly, you will find that all of these guys are very ap­proach­able and al­ways happy for a ‘selfie’. Matt Hayes came by to say hello and so too did Tar­quin Milling­ton Drake from Fron­tiers. It’s hard to be­lieve that it was nigh on 40 years ago that he was a mem­ber of the syn­di­cate I then man­aged in deep­est Surrey. Friends from nu­mer­ous travel com­pa­nies were there and as al­ways it’s good to see my god­son Alex Jar­dine from Aard­vark McCloud. There are so many places to visit and such a va­ri­ety of fish to chase that it must be so dif­fi­cult to make a de­ci­sion on that one spe­cial trip. I’m hope­lessly torn be­tween my love of Stro­bel’s mag­nif­i­cent rain­bows and the im­mense va­ri­ety of an Alaskan trip but hugely en­joyed my Golden Do­rado ex­pe­ri­ence last year on Lu­ciano Alba’s River Cruiser. Then there’s the strong han­ker­ing to go for an­other bone fish­ing trip as well as re­new­ing con­tact with the gi­ant sea trout of Tierra del Fuego. Close to our booth was Wayne Mcgee show­cas­ing his lodge on Alaska’s Alagnak river and I will be host­ing a group there in 2019.

In de­mand

Maybe I should have been a top-flight pho­tog­ra­pher like our own Peter Gather­cole or the globe-trot­ting Matt Har­ris, in­stead of be­ing just a writer. Both of these guys were at the show and of course Peter, as Chair­man of the Fly Dressers’ Guild is al­ways in de­mand. My Hardy con­nec­tions are well known and al­though we had only re­cently been at the Al­nwick head­quar­ters it was great to see both Grant Har­ris and John Hen­der­son on the Fin and Game stand. We al­ways have a good time with these guys and Grant was amused to see Sue in a dif­fer­ent coloured Hardy hat ev­ery time he walked by. New friends are al­ways made at these events and we quickly linked up with Tourism Aus­tralia – one day we just must make a trip to this huge coun­try. All in all it was a marvel­lous two days and a mas­sive credit to the or­gan­is­ers John and Fer­gus Kelly to some­how man­age to get so many peo­ple to­gether. My main thanks go to my friend Alan Wood whose knowl­edge of Lon­don made the drive to and fro seem ef­fort­less. If it had been left to me I would still be driv­ing around, and hope­lessly lost!

“There are so many places to visit and such a va­ri­ety of fish to chase that it must be dif­fi­cult to make a de­ci­sion on that one spe­cial trip.”

Peter fin­ish­ing a talk about carp on fly.

Mal­colm Crosse (di­rec­tor of the 39th World Fly Fish­ing Champs).

Taff Price (right) and Howard Tay­lor.

Peter Cock­will: Hardy am­bas­sador, still­wa­ter ex­pert, guide and Trout Fish­er­man con­trib­u­tor of 35 years

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