Last week, I was staying at my parents’ house. The very place where I first felt the fishing bug catching in me.
One morning some memories came back to me of the early days. I was ten, and already completely obsessed with fishing, even if my occasions to actually go and fish were relatively scarce. I would read and re-read La pêche sportive en eau douce (Sport Fishing in Freshwater) by J. M. Boelle, published in 1978 by Solarama, and stay in absolute awe looking at that guy:
I was nowhere near to have the money to buy a fly rod, and there wasn’t any trout water I could reach by a bicycle ride. But I really wanted to know how it felt. So I did what I usually did in these cases: I built the damn thing myself. I grew up surrounded by wonderful hazel bushes, full of straight rods ideal to make bows, arrows, spears, swords, staffs, wands, walking sticks, and a couple more things I can’t remember now. So that would give me a blank.
The guides were a little trickier since I had no notion of how to do a wrap, but sneaking around in the basement I found just what I needed:
I used an empty thread bobin as a reel The final product was quite bad and looked a lot like this:
With a coarse string as a fly line and my 10 years old’s enthusiasm as fuel, I even got a couple of loops in the air, and since I didn’t know what a tailing loop was, I think I didn’t make any. My parent’s lack of understanding of what I was doing was maybe a tad deeper than usual this day. They probably thought I was trying to catch imaginary air fishes.
Looking back on those days, I realize that most of what my fishing life was to become was already there. Lots of dreaming, books, cheap rod building and fly casting.
I was doomed.