I have enjoyed fishing for trout almost all my life – from being taught by my grandmother to guddle trout and then upstream worming in the burns in the Borders and Northumberland from the age of seven.
My fly fishing education was next with a fantastic gentleman called Commander Charles Winton Kitcat R.N. He taught me how to be organised, stealthy and also enjoy the wildlife that lived in the same environment as trout. His friend, John Miller, taught me how to tie flies. His patience with a novice was quite extraordinary and when I finally caught my first trout on a fly that I had made – well, that was something…
Indeed, this love of the trout, angling and the environment led me away from my father’s profession as a GP and into trout farming. How could I not enjoy rearing these beautiful fish and releasing them for anglers to catch? I farmed trout for over 30 years in Scotland and in particular enjoyed opening a beginners’ trout fishery where anglers of all ages would catch their first fish. The trout farm and fishery in Comrie won many awards over the years and people still to this day tell me that they continue to enjoy angling after these first introductions.
I have fished all over for trout and salmon from the wee hill lochs up in the Highlands to the massive Irish loughs such as Lough Corrib. The enjoyment of being in such wonderful places, the camaraderie of anglers – and the total pleasure of being outside and seeing fantastic things – from wonderful skies, views and wildlife totally unaware of your presence.
It was my mother who instilled in me a love of well-made things. Anything from shoes to fishing rods – whatever it is, quality will shine through. With the huge increase in mass-made fishing rods, I felt that I would like to make rods, both for myself and for others and to take the time to make them as individual pieces that will give years of service and pleasure. The care, passion and enthusiasm that took me through years of trout farming and dealing with fisheries and anglers will, I believe, serve me well in my desire to make fly rods of quality.