Bob Menzies –
When you think of fly-fishing, cool mountain streams and beautiful rainbow trout probably come to mind. This too is how I used to think. However, my vision has changed. I have seen a new, larger world.
My glimpse of this new world began about eight years ago. That was when I first encountered the finest cork popping bug of them all – the Booglebug. This beautiful fly, hand-crafted from cork, hackle, and an assortment of other materials, enabled me to fish in warm water lakes and rivers with my fly rod! To my utter amazement, I began to catch bass, bluegill, and other warm-water fish with the flick of my wrist. When I experienced the thrill of that first strike on my Booglebug, I was a changed man. In an instant, the old boundaries that had circumscribed my fly-fishing world were shattered. Now, trout still swim though my fishing dreams, but so do bass and bluegill. Lakes and rivers merge together with those cool mountain streams in my vision of fly-fishing heaven.
The global implications of this larger vision became apparent to me this past May. I normally live in Southwest China and had lost all hope of doing any fly-fishing there. No, there are not many trout streams in our neck of the woods. The one place near us that can boast of cold mountain streams is pretty much off limits for fishing. This area is populated with Tibetans, who loathe fishing due to their Buddhist beliefs and unique burial practices. The mountain streams often serve as the resting place for their dead. Understandably, this makes fishing far less attractive in these areas.
So, it was with some surprise, that I heard the news. A representative of the International Federation of Fly Fishers – a board member no less – was coming to visit us in Kunming, China. I was told that a group of IFFF certified instructors from Taiwan and Malaysia had organized a fly-fishing festival in Suining, a beautiful area just east of Chengdu, China. Soon S. Lee, IFFF board member and casting instructor extraordinaire, would be attending and, afterwards, planned to visit our little fly-tying center outside of Kunming.
Soon Lee arrived as planned and we had a delightful time. We treated him to some of our local cuisine and he taught a group of our friends how to cast with a fly rod. I can still see the joy on the faces of several of my Chinese friends as Mr. Lee tutored them in the art of fly-fishing. We began in the courtyard of our center and then moved to our pond, which is stocked with an assortment of carp. I had never tried fishing in the pond, for I had always viewed carp as bottom feeders. I assumed that they would not be interested in a top water fly.
Just as our day of instruction began to wind down, I was startled by cries of excitement from the crowd. I turned to see Soon Lee holding up for all to see a large grass carp. He had caught the grass carp with a Booglebug! He implored me to try and, to my surprise, I didn’t have to wait long. A big carp hit my first cast. My world had just gotten a lot bigger.