Neil Chalmers,Ken Kennedy, Jim Harcus, Sandy McConnachie, Norman Irvine and James Bews

Orkney Trout Fishing Association’s team travelled down to Rutland Water to participate in fly fishings most prestigious event, the Anglian Water Airflo International Final. They joined three top teams from Ireland, three from Wales, nine English, five Scottish, one French, one Belgian, and a Shetland FFA team for the two day final fished on the 3rd and 4th of October.
Following the first two practice days, the Orkney boys had found that the Lake was well stocked with fish and confidence was high, the third and final practice day was cut short by a very strong and blustery wind, which was to continue to blow over the two match days.
The first match day dawned and the wind was still blowing hard but from a slightly different direction, this was to effect Orkneys fortunes on the day as their game plan was to put all three anglers with control of the boat to Yellowstone, but it soon became evident that the wind change overnight had shifted the fish, probably down to Normanton Church. OTFA finished in a disappointing 19th place on the day, although many teams above them had not caught much more. Scottish team Gateside Flyfishers were in pole position, again with many teams close, all to play for on day two.
The wind had increased in strength by a notch or two at the start of the second day, a fact which did not phase the OTFA anglers, but others were looking pretty apprehensive setting out across the Main Basin of Rutland Water, and to be fair, it was a bit lumpy. Some anglers really struggle to fish in a windy day, a point borne out by the fact that one Orkney angler, Sandy McConnachie, had to return to the boat dock and take over at the engine end of the boat as his boat partner just could not handle the casting in the wind!
OTFA as it turned out, handled the conditions very well and finished in fifth place on the day, undoubtedly helped by James Bew’s early limit bag of 8 fish, finishing at 1 o clock, superb angling. His team mates also fared well and were hoping to move up the table a few places when the final results were announced at the presentation dinner at Greetham Valley Country Club that evening.
It was immediately evident at the presentation that many teams had not managed the windy conditions with some big changes in fortune. The 2017 champions were Flyfishing Costa A, with Team Airflo finishing second in the silver medal position and Gateside Flyfishers took the bronze medal, a very creditable performance on their first entry into the competition. OTFA’s good showing on the second day put them up seven places into 12th spot, which in these days of semi professional, and hand picked dream teams, was a finish to be proud of.
As always, the team members were great ambassadors for Orkney in general and Orkney fly fishing in particular and all thoroughly enjoyed the experience and had many a laugh. OTFA would also like to thank main sponsors Northlink Ferries and Drive Orkney for their generous support and help in attending the final.
One moment which will stick in my mind was when during the final fly tying session on the evening before the final day, the boys were tying black blobs. Now for the uninitiated, they are what the sound like, black fritz wound on a hook. One of the boys asked if he could borrow Sandy’s fritz to tie the fly, as Sandy had done well with it the day before. “Haven't you got any of your own” asked Sandy, which then came the reply,” Yes I do, but it might not be the same shade as yours”! This caused an uproar of hilarity. Such are the insecurities of the competition fisherman.