Pike fly fishing expert David Wolsoncroft-Dodds to give rare talk in Norwich
From the Fens to the Broads, and as far afield as the US and Scandinavia, it's reckoned to be the fastest-growing method of targeting pike.
Now one of the doyens of fly fishing for predators is set to appear on stage in Norwich, to give anglers a rare insight into his tactics.
David Wolsoncroft-Dodds will be giving a talk at The Assembly House in Theatre Street next month, as part of a month-long arts show called Flying Colours: Fascinating Forms.
Pike fishing might seem to have as much in common with the art world as Wladimir Klitschko has to crochet.
But fly fishermen have obsessed over matching the hatch for centuries, meticulously tying replicas of the trout's diet with silk, fur and feather.
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And now modern-day pike fly anglers are following in their footsteps, by turning tying replicas of prey fish into an art form of its own.
It's a world away from slinging gaudy lumps of wood and metal around on a jerkbait rod – let alone festering behind a battery of bite alarms.
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Wiltshire-based Wolsoncroft-Dodds is a self-confessed obsessive, whose creations are designed to mimic fish like roach to trigger stikes.
'I started to try to catch pike with a fly-rod because I wanted the thrill of a big fish on the fly and the salmon fishing that I had access to was declining,' said Wolsoncroft-Dodds.
'In the past, I had fished for pike with plugs and spinners in the fly-fishing close season. It wasn't as entertaining as fly-fishing, but it put a bend in the rod and helped me to manage my withdrawal symptoms.
'The realisation that people were catching saltwater predators on the fly got me interested in trying to catch pike.'
Early efforts were hampered by lack of suitable equipment – and little in the way of advice, compared to the wealth of literature dedicated to other forms of pike fishing.
Now there are stepped-up fly rods capable of casting the heavy lines needed to double haul a six-inch fly and wire tippet – and the power to subdue a powerful predator with minimal fuss.
'I took scissors to old salmon lines – much to the consternation of my local fly-fishing shop. I tried to apply my fly-tying knowledge to come up with better creations than were generally available.
'My flies are tied to represent or suggest what the pike eat. The tying is every bit as challenging as producing convincing dry flies for trout.
'I want to present the pike with a tempting, enticing creation. My flies are large, three dimensional – a pike will often view them from below – imitative and designed so that I can suggest an injured prey-fish – an easy meal.'
Wolsoncroft-Dodds's talk will cover 'the whole experience of catching big wild fish from big wild waters'.
'For me, the pleasure in fly-fishing for pike goes way beyond accumulating an impressive score of large fish,' he said.
'Fly-fishing for pike takes more time and effort to master than bait fishing or lure fishing. That makes every fish rewarding.
'An 8lb pike is a bit of an anti-climax on a treble festooned deadbait. On a fly, it's a delight. You have pulled off the deception.'
David Wolsoncroft-Dodds will be appearing at The Assembly House on Friday, August 5 ( 7.30pm). Tickets are �8.25 each and available from the Box Office on 01603 598688.