Honesty is a character flaw that besets too many of us and it is wise to keep it in check. Of course politicians have known this for some time and are adept at steering away from the dangers of truthfulness. This, presumably, is the reason we elect them in the first place. As fishermen, we are widely assumed to be economical with the truth by those who choose not to fool around on the riverbank, and it is reassuring to know that others, who know very little about what else we get up to, can at least acknowledge this shared attribute.

No other activity I can think of provides such rich opportunities to inculcate among its followers the traits of dishonesty, duplicity, trickery and corruption. And long may it continue! After all, we spend much of our time alone in wild and desolate places, often in that murky and distorted world where the day merges with the night. Nobody can see us, and if we return with tall tales of triumph they just have to take our word for it.

And of course the prevailing catch and release philosophy is a terrific asset. Now we can claim to have taken heaps of good fish without the need to produce any physical evidence whatsoever while, at the same time, pretending that we care about ethics, value conservation and are remotely interested in the long term health of our fisheries. We’ve never had it so good!

You are probably reading this fine publication because it provides excellent guidance and tips by acknowledged experts with diverse areas of specialism. They can tell us how to cast with tight loops, improve the timing on our double haul, tie delicate posts on tiny dries, identify hatching insects, and so on.

Now I don’t want to play down the contributions that these guys make. They really do know their stuff. But don’t worry too much. You can continue to tie rubbish flies, fling them into nearby branches, wade clumsily, put down every fish in the river and still promulgate the myth that you are an expert. There are many ways to do it but let’s start with a technique which is easy to master.

Imagine that, after a day of fishing, you come across another fisherman. Inevitably there will be an exchange of pleasantries and each will want to know how the other got on. My tip here is to ask the other guy before he has a chance to ask you. When it’s his turn to ask, you simply state your own results which are similar, but of course a little better than his. Don’t overdo it. The intention is not to humiliate him but merely to imply that you are a more accomplished angler than he is.

Here is an example of how this might be done in practice.

Angler A: Hi there, how are you?

Angler B: Hello. I’m very well

Angler A: Any luck?

Angler B: It’s been okay. I managed a couple on a sedge.

Angler A: Excellent. Well done. What kind of size?

Angler B: Nothing special, but one might have been a pound and a half. How about you?

Angler A: It’s been pretty quiet really. I think I had four in the end. Like you say most were pretty ordinary. Best was just about two pounds.

Game, set and match.

Published as “The Fine Art of Lying” Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Monthly, April 2012.