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  • Writer's pictureFishing for Schools

Meet Henry Cullen: Our inspiring Young Ambassador

Without question, Henry is our youngest ambassador; utterly deserving of that accolade and, in my humble opinion, one of the brightest and most talented young people I have come across for his age. At 15, his casting is unquestionably brilliant. Henry’s ability to “magic” fish from small still waters is the envy of fishers four or five times his age, and this young man’s willingness to learn, be a student of the sport and sheer drive and eagerness to improve is a beacon for all to follow.

I am a great deal better for knowing – and fishing – with Henry… I am so glad he puts up with me!

Henry, when did you start your fly fishing adventure?

I started fishing when I was about 12 years old. My mum had fished a little in the past and after a long break, she decided to pick up her rods again. Mum is very much an outdoorsy person and loves the countryside and lives in her wellies.

Who was your inspiration when you first started?

Henry and his mum fishing

My mum inspired me to start fishing by giving me a lesson in the garden and then bringing me along on her fishing trips to still water lakes. At the start, I thought I knew best and got into a lot of tangles and knots, so mum organised a lesson with Fen at Manningford - this is when my passion for fishing really took off.

What inspired you to want to cast as well as you obviously do?

I clearly remember standing on the bank on a cold sunny morning next to Fen and watching him cast across the water, my immediate thought was, "Wow, I wish I could do that". Fen then went through the basics with me and was delighted when I caught my first fish during this lesson. It was a 2lb rainbow, which we took home and cold smoked. Fen helped me land it and from then I couldn’t get enough of fly fishing. Mum had a fishing buddy! I also remember how I felt when I got my first rod and reel and using them for the first time, it was great.

Has angling been a learning experience for you?

Fishing has taught me patience and has also improved my concentration. It has helped me persevere even when it is getting tough. Sometimes there are good days and sometimes there are empty bag days, it doesn’t matter, getting away from it all and relaxing without thinking about GCSE’s and other pressures is what I enjoy. I am not very big for my age, but I know that you don’t have to be big and strong to cast long distances – it is all about technique, which anyone can learn.

Why is fishing – especially fly fishing – so important to you?

Fishing is important to me as I have found a hobby I enjoy that I can do with my family. I have met some very kind and lovely people while fishing. Recently, while fishing at Chew Valley, I met Paul Roach who was amazingly generous and gave me a huge selection of hand-tied competition flies. I was overwhelmed by his kindness and I am looking forward to taking up his offer to fly fish with him on a boat. It will be great to gain more knowledge and benefit from his experience.

What advice would you give young people who are showing an interest in all manner of angling areas – especially fly fishing?

I would recommend fly fishing to other kids my age, it is a great way to get out into the countryside, meet great people and get fresh air. Everyone I meet is very friendly and willing to share knowledge. Fishing is a way of getting away from your day to day worries and taking a step away from the negative things in life. I see lots of wildlife while fishing, go to amazing places and sometimes get soaking wet, but that’s all part of the fun. Like me, not everyone enjoys competitive team sports and this is one of the many reasons I love fly fishing.

Who has inspired you within the fishing community?

Charles Jardine inspires me for many reasons, he is a world-famous fisherman who is passionate about fishing, incredibly patient and so willing to share his knowledge with youngsters like me. He gives so much of his valuable time to help others and I am very grateful for all his help.

Henry, how do you see yourself progressing in a sport that you are , clearly, so very good at?

In the future, I aim to broaden my knowledge around the many technical aspects of fishing, for example, which flies to use, when to use them and where. I would love to fish the river Test in Hampshire one day and fish on bigger waters from a boat. I also hope to increase my skills beyond where I am currently but most of all, I expect that I will still enjoy fly fishing as much as I do now.

Henry, I think it is fair to say that you have helped at many events and been a central figure for Fishing for Schools. You are what makes us who we are. Thank you.

I am very honoured to be invited to be a Fishing for Schools ambassador and I am very proud to be the youngest ambassador. I really enjoy helping out at Fishing for Schools events and promoting this amazing cause.

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1 Comment

Ronald Howard
Ronald Howard
Dec 10, 2023

Brilliant account of your fishing experience to date Henry the sport needs more like you. Keep going and the very best luck to you. I might see you out on the water over at Chew or Blagdon some time. Boat loch style fishing is another page in your journey. Also, why not join Bristol Reservoirs Fly Fishing Association (BRFFA) it’s free to youths and you can keep abreast of what’s happening over here.

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