Traditionalist fly anglers up in arms over 'blobs'

The world of fly-fishing has been rattled by the use of a controversial lure which is being blamed for spawning "yobbish" behaviour in the sport.

Traditionalists claim that the brightly coloured "blob" trout lure is unsporting and should be banned. They accuse its users of adopting aggressive tactics, with the new breed of fishermen described as "yobs with blobs".

The highly effective, ball-shaped blobs, made from various fibres, promote an aggressive, chasing reaction from trout when pulled quickly through the water. Unlike traditional flies, such as "nymphs" or "daddy-longlegs", they do not resemble a living insect.

Purists argue that blobs, which are permitted in major contests, give an unfair advantage over conventional methods and make trout fishing too easy. England fly-fishing champion Chris Ogborne was so opposed to them that he left the England team, and says he has received hundreds of letters of support.

Mr Ogborne, from Wadebridge, Cornwall, says the blob technique is tantamount to cheating and should be banned. He claims to have seen blob fishermen heckling opponents using traditional flies in competitions. He argues that the blob undermines the very essence of fly-fishing, in which anglers imitate a trout's prey with a hand-tied fly made from natural fur or feathers.

Blobs are used only on stillwaters, not rivers. Some blobs look like the pellets fed to stock fish before they are released into lakes and reservoirs. The technique involves ripping the lure swiftly through the water, as opposed to twitching gently an artificial midge or mayfly.

Mr Ogborne said: "Fly-fishing is about imitating things that fish eat. Blobs are fundamentally bad for the sport. It's a very easy way of catching a lot of fish and takes the skill away. Any idiot can use them."

Russell Hill, editor of Trout Fisherman magazine, said: "The blob craze has made trout fishing very easy. They are absolutely caning fish and winning every match. Gone are the days when you hear of a man winning a match with a dry fly or a nymph, because the younger anglers are going to these reservoirs and ripping blobs back at breakneck speed and catching their eight-fish limit in half an hour. There's a massive debate going on."

England fly-fisherman Jeremy Lucas said while the use of the blob and the booby – a brightly coloured lure with polystyrene "eyes" – could encourage novices, it was "repulsive" to see them used by experienced fishermen. He said: "Most of us would wash our hands of it. It reflects fly-fishing in a very bad light."

But Howard Croston, game product manager for Britain's best-known fly-fishing retailer, Hardy, and a member of the England world fly-fishing team, said blobs still required skill. "The method has come from people trying to catch as many fish as possible as quickly as possible to win competitions," he said. "Younger people getting into competitions are not getting the chance, or not needing to fish the more skilful methods as often as pulling a blob."

Blobs are banned at Brook Farm trout fishery at Cranham, in the Cotswolds. Peter Turnham, the fishery's owner, said: "If you are that desperate you might as well use a net. Everyone now wants everything quicker and easier, rather than using a technique that is the most aesthetically pleasing."

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