A new website recording the life and legacy of one of the foremost pioneers of reservoir fly fishing, Dr Howard Alexander Bell of Wrington (1888-1974) is now available. Dr. Bell fished Blagdon in the 1920s and the succeeding years. As far as is known, this is the first website dedicated to him.
As a result of his enquiring and scientific mind Dr. Bell did not follow the standard practice of the day of employing traditional ‘attractor’ patterns. Rather he studied the creatures that the fish were targeting, endeavoured to design artificial patterns which replicated them, and retrieved them in a manner which mimicked their progression through the water. He was probably the first angler to implement such an imitative approach to reservoirs. Reservoir fly anglers who employ ‘nymph fishing’ tactics are following in the footsteps of this innovative angler.
Writing in 1999 the late Conrad Voss Bark (parliamentary correspondent for the BBC and angling historian) summed up Dr. Bell’s contribution in The New Encyclopaedia of Fly Fishing as follows:
‘Although he never wrote a word about fishing and shunned publicity, Dr. Bell of Blagdon had the greatest formative influence of any man on the development of reservoir fishing in the first half of this century.’
There is a biography of Dr. Bell, a history of the development of reservoir fly fishing and some reminiscences by those who knew him. That is followed by references gleaned from a variety of books and publications, the dressings of his flies and the only surviving article attributed to Dr. Bell. There are several images of flies designed and tied by the doctor. Facsimiles of some pages from his fishing notebook are reproduced, there is a picture gallery of related images and finally several obituaries. The acknowledgements page lists a number of links to material about him.
The website may be accessed at: www.webdatauk.wixsite.com/dr-bell.
Information about the website:
* The purpose is to make the life and legacy of Dr. Howard Bell of Wrington more widely known.
* The information is available to view without charge. Registration is not required.
* The website is not a commercial enterprise and nothing is offered for sale.
* No financial contributions are sought or accepted.
Adrian Freer (the website editor) is an author and reservoir fly fisherman. Among his books are Successful Reservoir Fly Fishing Techniques (Crowood Press), Reservoir Trout Flies (Crowood Press) and A Biblical Defence of the Sport of Angling (Welford Court Press). He also contributes articles for FlyFishing & FlyTying magazine and presents slideshow talks to fly fishing clubs.