During a guided day things mostly go to plan. There’s been the odd hiccup every now and again, but generally things go pretty smoothly, and I’m yet to have a bad experience on the water since i set up my guiding business. There was a day just over a year ago however, where something did go pretty badly wrong!
Client A and I were fishing the river Dove, which was high from recent rains. It was October and we were catching a good few fish. In one particular pool we were wading deeply, client A fishing the french leader outfit while I kept the dry and dropper rod in my hands for the shallower glide upstream. We never made it that far up however, with client A catching fish regularly, I decided to stash the dry and dropper rig safely in the branches of a tree while we cracked on with the important business of hooking, landing, photographing and releasing fish.
Having exhausted the fishing in that pool after nearly an hour, Client A and I decided to hop out of the river for a cup of coffee and a 5 minute warm up, so we about turned and started the wade back to the tree which held the other rod. Now which tree was it? I’m sure it was this one, but it isn’t there, so maybe it was this one? “Client A, you don’t remember which tree I stashed the other rod in do you? Yeah I thought it was that one too….”
It wasn’t where I left it, no doubt about that, but even if it had fallen from the tree branches it would only fall in to ten inches of water. I jumped to the bank and picked up an identical outfit rigged for dries, and dropped it in the same place the now lost rod would have fallen, to prove to myself that it can’t have been swept away. Within seconds the dry fly rod was thundering down stream, the length and profile being pushed and swept in the current, sending me running downstream after it!
I let the dry fly rod run it’s course, keeping a careful eye on it, my rationale being that the lost rod would likely have travelled a similar path to the outfit I was currently keeping up with. It surprised me just how far this rod and reel made it down river – a good two hundred yards or so, before reaching a more gentle pool and settling in the edge. I searched the area for a few minutes, but conscious that this time belonged to Client A I called off the hunt and cracked on with making that coffee and catching more fish.
The guided day ended at around 4pm, giving me enough light to have a search around the area again. I felt it couldn’t have gone any further than my test run, and with the fly line having a bright yellow head and the reel being brand new polished aluminium it ought not be so hard to find.
At 6pm the light had gone and I drove home, minus an entire outfit.
I’ve done some pretty daft things when fly fishing on my own time – breaking rods, losing fly boxes, sleeping through the rise – but this hurt on many levels! Not only had a lost an entire outfit whilst out with a client, but it was a brand new outfit and the reel was one of the only ones in the UK at that point, it was my pride and joy. My mind turned to how I might be able to craft an email to Scierra justifying losing the whole outfit….
We had some really ferocious floods during the winter, and though it took a few weeks I did eventually come round to acknowledging I wouldn’t get the kit back, and that this would be a lesson hard learned. I offered rewards to anybody who might find the outfit, but ultimately I wouldn’t have been able to offer a bigger reward than the outfit itself. The kit was gone.
Ten months on, August 2018. Client B and C have booked a half day guided on the same stretch of the Dove. With fish rising well and both anglers on form, I’m doing plenty of running around from client to client, netting and photographing fish. The river is very low, it’s been a long, hot and dry summer, and parts of the river which would otherwise be flowing are draw and sun bleached.
Stood with Client B, I get a shout from Client C who has hooked a big fish. He’s a fifty yard dash downstream, and I decide to climb out and make the journey on dry land. Ducking and weaving through a dense area of willow trees, my eye is caught by something in the undergrowth which is reflecting the bright sunshine back at me. Curious, and comfortable that Client C now has the fish in his own net, I stoop down to investigate.
Brushing aside some sun-crisped flotsam I was staggered that what caught my eye in that fraction of a second was the aluminium from a fly reel – my fly reel! There, up against a tree and covered in all manner of branches, sticks and mud was the little Scierra Traxion Click, still attached to the handle of the Brook rod. I brushed aside the flotsam and found the fly line tangled around the dead sticks, and that only the butt section of the rod remained. The reel, though caked in mud, seemed structurally in tact.
Light weight click reels aren’t renowned for their structural strength, as often the manufacturers take out so much material in the search for low weights that the durability is sacrificed. I tentatively tried to turn the handle – it was totally locked solid. Regardless, I threw the reel in my pack, in the hope that maybe I might be able to get it going again.
The reel spent that evening fully submerged in a bowl of soapy water, which loosened the worst of the mud and the grit so that the next morning I was able to remove the fly line and backing. A further evening’s soaking and I was able to take the reel apart and begin the cleaning process properly.
At first with a heavy sponge, and then with an old toothbrush, I was able to get the worst of the mud off the reel. I decided not to clean the outside spool locking nut, as in future this would remind me of the whole process, from being lost to found. Re-assembled, the little reel worked like it did the first time I took it from it’s box – purring like a kitten.
I guess it says a lot about the durability of the Scierra Traxion Click that it has survived nearly a year exposed to all sorts of elements with damage no more superficial than some very minor scratches and a little bit of mud. It probably says a lot about the owner that now the reel is working again it has gone straight back on to a rod, replacing the reel which replaced the original with. Somehow, through its trials and tribulations, this totally inanimate object has acquired its own intrigue and attitude, its right to belong and to be used. I trust it more for having been through this experience. It’s got a story of its own and it has the scars to prove it. The best kind of fishing kit.