Author: Iain Barr (Trout Fisherman August 2009, pp. 27 - 33)


IAIN Barr achieved a unique England double by winning individual and team gold at this year's World Championships in Scotland.

Eleven years as a Trout Fisherman writer, Iain had previously won almost every domestic title available. But nothing can compare with having his name etched alongside fellow Englishmen Tony Pawson, Brian Leadbetter (twice world champion) and Jeremy Hermann.

Trout Fisherman caught up with Iain to find out exactly what the title World Champion means to him, while conveying his opinions about the much criticized selection process.

TF: How many years have you fished in the Worlds?

Iain Bam I first broke into the World Team in 1998. We fished in Poland and got a team bronze. I have fished six farther World Championships since.

TF: What does it mean to you to be crowned best in the world?

IB: It's an ambition I've had since I started competitive flyfishing when about 14 years old. The elation and feeling when Ian Greenwood, the team manager, came and told me I was the World Champion will stay with me forever! It's beyond a dream but it has come true and it still seems surreal. Fishing is a huge part of my life and to be crowned the best in the world at my chosen sport is just mind-boggling!

It was also pleasing to win the title in Scotland as my parents are from there and they witnessed the moment. After all, it was my dad who taught me to fish all those years ago. From my first ever trout of 140Z from Ringstead Grange in 1981 on a dry Sedge to the World Fly Fishing Champion in 2009.1 have to keep pinching myself. Scotland is also where I won the Brown Bowl so the country has been kind to me.

It makes all my efforts in flyfishing worthwhile as I dedicate so much of my time and money to it but, although I had the individual success, the team and manager can claim their share of my individual glory too. My wife and family deserve arguably a larger share as much of my family time is sacrificed to flyfishing and I have young children of three years and seven months.

I aim to use my success to benefit others. I'm assisting the England Youth Fly Fishing Team and I will be passing on my tips to them and showing that all goals can be reached. The exact details of how I won will be printed in Trout Fisherman magazine in the coming months.

TF: How did this year's Worlds differ from previous champs?

IB: This year's World Championships consisted of four lake sessions and one river.

Normally it's four river sessions and one lake, which plays into the hands of the mainland European teams. I was extremely confident while approaching the trip and did say to fellow team members I was hoping for two medals. Loch-style fishing from a drifting boat, is what the English do best, so confidence was high. However, some of the lochs were extremely tough and a little luck would be needed just to avoid a blank.

We were able to practice on the venues last year so at least we knew where we were going on the lakes, although I didn't manage to fish Lake of Menteith. Ironically though, the best I managed on the lochs was a second, but I won the river session on the Tay. One team member drew a dreadful beat on the Tay but the rest of us caught keeping us in the top few as many were blanking due to the 'glorious' Scottish weather.

Teams were prohibited to fish the venues within 60 days leading up to the competition, which seemed a little odd when some venues drown the likes of Rutland Water many times over and anglers are travelling half way round the world.

This England team had something special. I have fished with all of them over the years in World or European Championships, but never all six together. There was an amazing team spirit, hunger, winning mental attitude, never say die desire and extreme composure under what proved to be immense pressure. As long as the team stayed within reach after day 1, we could pool our information and start our attack.

We did just that by finishing sixth after the first day, but well within reach of the summit.

The English are renowned for their light heartedness in the Championships, but this team was incredible. We were sitting second going into the last day and were celebrating a team member's birthday the night before with balloons, party hats and party poppers in the restaurant. Like many previous champs, fish were fairly scarce but that plays into the hands of the more experienced loch-style fisherman, so we were optimistic that England and the other home nations would figure in the top five.

TF: What ambitions do you now have in flyfishing?

IB: It was always an ambition to win the World title but I guess I'd like to win it just maybe once more. Go on then, maybe twice more! There are three titles I'd like to win having come second in them all so far. The English National Final after coming second on Grafham; The European Championship after coming second in Norway and, of course, to win the Troutmasters after coming second, also on Grafham. Maybe one day I'll manage the England team myself to the Gold Medal.

TF: Will being World Champion mean more pressure to perform?

IB: I don't feel pressure going into any competition and being World Champion will make no difference. People may expect it but I am an ordinary fisherman just like everyone else. I have good days and I have bad days -it's consistency that matters.

TF: What did you win as World Champion?

IB: Of course, I won the individual gold medal, something I will treasure and pass to my little boy. I also won the silver salver individual World Champion trophy, which will carry my name on it forever. I keep this for a year. I also won more friends in the sport.

TF: Do you agree with the current selection process for the Worlds?

IB: This is a topic always up for debate. I hope the critics who wrote on the forums regarding the selection process for this year's team eat their 'humble pie'. Who would be a selector? No matter whom they choose there's always contention. In the flight of my career in 2000, I was dropped for the World Championships in England where I had just won the European Open and the Bob Church Classic. They had their reasons and I accepted it but England went on to finish in their lowest position of ninth. This year's team was selected a year in advance and this sent shock waves across the fishing fraternity. The forums lead the way with the criticisms but the selectors in my book got it spot on. They picked the squad they believed would put England back on the map as the team to beat and they were proved right. What people don't always understand is that it isn't always about results on paper. Some anglers could argue that they deserved a team place on paper, but this six-man squad had something special, adding anyone else would have upset the balance. Yes, you have to be able to fish but you need to adapt, cope with pressure, work solidly as a team and possess a burning desire and belief to win. You must be assertive, quick thinking and have something unique in fishing that you can't always put your finger on.