A Visit To "The Friendly Fisherman"'The Friendly Fisherman' in Camden Road Tunbridge Wells has been trading for over thirty years, the owner Andy Lush a successful all round angler himself has worked in the shop, man and boy. What strikes you as you enter the premises is the huge amount of fishing tackle on display, the ground floor is stacked floor to ceiling with carp and pike tackle. The pressure on display space has now been solved, the opening of a designated fly fishing & fly tying department in the basement has increased the sales area by 50%. The solution was the brainchild of Ryan Balcombe an experienced fly fisherman and keen fly tier. Andy is himself an accomplished fly angler with over 25 years experience on a variety of waters within 100 miles of Tunbridge Wells. He's appeared in several features for trout magazines on local reservoirs Arlington , Bewl Water and Darwell, using his favourite dry fly tactics, plus a revealing visit to Chalybeate springs where his nymphing skills were required.
Entering the fly department you will be overwhelmed by the vast range of fly tying materials on offer, all the famous names are there , Veniards, Griffiths, VDS (specialist Belgian fly tying company) and our own brands imported from all over the globe. Genetic hackles and capes by Metz , Hoffman, Keough and Hebert. Traditional materials are accompanied by an ever growing selection of synthetic materials like Fritz and a variety of Holographic fibres and tinsels . Hooks in their many shapes and sizes are available from Tiemco, Kamasan and Partridge.
For those of us who prefer to buy our flies don't despair the selection here is phenomenal with over 400 patterns from Donegal Flies, Highland flies and Crystal River plus an exclusive range tied by members of 'The Friendly Fisherman' competition team, only the best is good enough at 'The Friendly Fisherman'. The attention to detail goes on and on, you only have to look at the leader materials on offer , with co-polymer nylons from Rio and Fluorocarbons by 'Riverge', 'Grand Max', Seaguar and G3. Fly lines get the 'The Friendly Fisherman' treatment too, all the best known brands, Mastery, Air Cel, Wet Cel, Airflo, Hardy are all stocked plus the 'Lee Wulff' Triangle Taper series of "cult" reservoir lines. Saltwater and Pike fly tackle has taken off in a big way recently so its no surprise, with Andy's involvement in pike fishing, that 'The Friendly Fisherman has a complete selection of fly rods, reels, lines, flies, leader materials and of course fly tying materials for this method. Performance fly rods from G.Loomis, Hardy, Greys and Scott are all stocked with economy rods from Leeda for the budget minded angler. Boat anglers are spoilt too with a selection of electric outboard engines, echo sounders, life jackets and boat seats, including the new Airflo and Seymo swivelling models. While visiting the basement cast your eyes over the selection of fly waistcoats from Greys, Shimano and Englands . plus Neoprene, Breathable and P.V.C. chest and thigh waders also stocked.
On my visit to 'The Friendly Fisherman' it was made clear that novice anglers and experts alike are all welcome, as their name suggests they are 'friendly by name and friendly by nature'.