Flyfishing, as my primary sportfishing interest, did not
actually happen until I was about sixteen years old.
Already I was known as an avid angler and had got accustomed
to taking people on fishing trips to areas I had 'discovered'
and where my joy was always to share my fishing experiences
with people and have a good time.
One day, when I was in the capital of Guyana (then British Guiana)
I received a phone call from a friend of mine, Tony Cole. He
invited me to accompany him on a short fishing trip to some
nearby irrigation canals where he had found some truly big
lukunanni (tucunaré) in a deeper dredged section.
I sadly had to inform him that I had not brought any of my usual
fishing tackle and that I would therefore have to borrow a rod
from someone else. At that time, there were very few sport anglers
in Guyana and even less in the capital, Georgetown. My friend
told me he had a fishing rod for me and that he would be there
at my house in just a few minutes. We left in his Land Rover and
headed for the sugarcane canals crossing many old wooden bridges
and bumped along mud dams to a very large dark black water canal.
As was his custom, Tony always wanted to be the first to catch
a fish and therefore the very first to cast into a fishing hole.
I remained behind looking for the fishing rod he was supposed
to loan me. I saw nothing but this beautiful old wooden box with
a leather handle looking all together more like a prized shotgun
or musical instrument case. It lay there like an abandoned
Somehow I knew that this coming experience soon would have
a great lasting effect upon my future fishing activity and that
a new chapter in my life was about to begin. I flipped the stiff
brass latches and slowly opened the wooden case. There in green
velvet lined compartments were thin polished greenheart rod sections,
neatly positioned and ready to be assembled. The reel was in a
leather compartment on the right side along with some rather aged
stiff and gummy lines. I had never ever seen a rod like this and
shouted to Tony for some assistance or explanation on what I was
dealing with. I first really thought it was some sort of gun
cleaning rod assembly … until I saw the rod guides and cork handle.
Tony shouted back some basic negative garbled instructions on
the box and contents. He said it was a gift from his grandfather
that he really did not know what to do with it and thought I
would be able to figure it out somehow. It was a sort of fishing
rod, and that was all he could tell me. "Oh yes … Peter! I
think you have to use flies with it!"
"Flies!… Flies? …Tony, what flies? What sort? … Hell! ... No way!"
I could not think of a single respectable fish that would eat a
single fly. I felt duped, stupid and helpless. There was Tony
already into his third lukunanni with his casting rod bent nearly
double and I had still no rod ready. Carefully, I removed the
individual rod pieces and fitted them together. I found a small
reel and positioned it on the cork handle at a spot I had noticed
was well worn from past use. The silver slide rings fell right
into position as if embracing an old friend. I pulled some line
off the reel and slid it up through the thin wire snake guides . . .
it felt right in my hand as I wiggled and tested its action. It
was very long and looked far too fragile to handle a normal
lukunanni. Then came the real big question "What lure to use?"
"Flies" Tony shouted again after I demanded to know where he
had placed the obviously special lures for this rod. "Look in
one of the compartments in the wooden case - they are sort of
small and made of colored feathers"
"Hmmm . . .Yes, here is one!" I held a small envelope which
contained a blue/white silver single hooked lure. On it was
pen written in broad script 'Silver Doctor - Salmon' Thinking
of the appetite of a tropical lukunanni, I knew that it would
not refuse an offering meant for a stupid cold water Scottish
I tied on the lure and headed reluctantly to the pool above
where Tony was having such great fishing success. This pool
had a lot of water plants and I waded out to get a chance to
cast into some clear water. Rather than cast, I sort of
lobbed and dappled the lure out just about three meters from
the edge. No sooner had the Silver Doctor landed into the
pool, a huge splash erupted and it disappeared into the mouth
of a huge lukunanni. It pulled line out into the clear water
and I heard for the first time the music of a stripping fly
reel. The aged Hardy sang its song and whirred with the
accompanying zip of the rough silk line stripping through
the wire guides. It was perfect harmony - a wonderful feeling
of control and benefit for using such direct contact light
tackle. I could feel nearly every beat of the fish's tail
and shake of its head. The fish did not fight long - and I
landed it with a sense of enjoyment rarely experienced before.
I had not noticed Tony standing behind me . . . he had a broad
smile. "You figured that rod out… it is now yours. The two of
you belong to each other, have lots of fun with it!" And so
I did, my marriage to flyfishing had begun and it will probably
last the remainder of my life. Peter became finally - the
I fished for a few years with this old rod. It sort of taught
me to fish carefully with respect for the tackle and the fish,
to cast with precision and use the fly on many other tropical
fish species. Eventually, it finally broke during a great fight
with a morocoto (tambaqui) and could be repaired no more. I have
since owned many fly rods, made of different materials, but not
one of these has ever given me more joy and satisfaction than
that old rod, my very first and only fly rod made of greenheart wood.
~ Peter Gorinsky
(aka Host Tropic)