Martyn White | Sunday, 18 October 2020

Recently I tied up a batch of stalking bugs for a friend who's been getting the same order every year since sometime in the 1990s. After I finished it I didn't sit down at the vice for almost 2 weeks.

It completely killed my motivation to tie, whether for myself or others. Previous to that I was tying a lot and putting out about 3 tying videos a week so at first I thought I had kind of burned out. But I don't think that's it, unlike many I thoroughly enjoy time at the vice. I even fairly enjoyed tying those stalking bugs, weird little things and not what I usually tie.

Yesterday I realised what had caused my melancholy. Mutant fish. Having shared the videos in online groups, the facebook algorithm started showing me more and more "specimen" trout from small stocked fisheries in Southern England. If you're not familiar with stalking, it basically involves sight fishing for large (obese) pellet fed trout in small clear stillwaters. Now I've nothing against fishing for stocked fish I have done and will do it again, but there's a reason that an overwintered fish gets most stocked water anglers more excited than a fresh stockie. These overfed fish I'm seeing just fill me with sadness, much like farmed salmon do.


As I said I've been tying these bugs for the same guy for ages and they never made me feel like not tying, but this is the first time the algorithms have been involved. It used to be I'd see 1 or 2 of these monster fish in a magazine and forget about them till the next issue, now it's near daily. It was only seeing a17lb "beauty" the other day and involuntarily calling it disgusting that made me realise what was happening. Each to their own, and the anglers are obviously enjoying it. But with the relentlessness of social media it really got to me, I'd much rather see a 9" brown or grayling or even a well conditioned 3lb stockie than one of those things, better re-educate the algorithm.