I've always been fascinated by fishing flies. One of my uncles built up a very successful business making and selling fishing flies and when I was young being intrigued by the examples hanging on the walls of his house. Also I've become much more aware of fishing since becoming a volunteer for the Water of Leith Conservation Trust (which manages a trout fishery along the river).
So I was very interested to see this film, which is a tribute to Megan Boyd, a legendary maker of fishing flies who lived in the Scottish Highlands and died aged 86 in 2001. Ms Boyd was quite an enigmatic and private person so not a huge amount seems to be known about her which left the biographical element of the film a little sparse. We were given a series of unnamed talking heads who spoke, not always with insight and sometimes repeating each other.
The interviews were interspersed with brief discussions on fishing as a pastime, the biology of salmon and the work that Ms Boyd did for Prince Charles. All against a background of shots of the beautiful rivers of the Scottish Highlands and oil painted animations. I would have preferred the underwater shots and animations to have been more 'nature study' and less 'impressionistic moving water' and a bit more about the salmon's biology would have been nice too. Not to mention filling in those of us who aren't seasoned anglers on questions such as the difference between a trout fly and a salmon fly? (Ms Boyd only ever made salmon flies).
Ms Boyd never went fishing - she couldn't bear to think of her fishing flies being used to kill fish. (She was drawn into making the flies because she thought they were pretty, which I can understand). These days anglers in Scottish waters are encouraged to throw their fish back into the water, but even that must harm them to some degree.
The most interesting part of the film for me was watching the making of the flies, alongside the listing of the materials and techniques. It's a skilled craft to make these tiny works of art. But think of all the feathers the old style fishing flies used, alongside the millinery business, they must have put a lot of pressure on the populations of some species of birds! Modern fishing flies use fur from deer or squirrels, which obviously still has issues!
So this is a film I had quite mixed feelings about, but if you're interested in fishing it's definitely worth seeing.
Kiss the Water is showing as part of the Edinburgh International Film festival,
1730, 23 June and 1815, 25 June both at Cineworld.
You can read today's other film reviews by following the links below:
Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the Edinburgh International Film Festival and I attended free press screenings for these films.