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15 Lessons Fly Fishing Taught Me About Copywriting. (company blog)

I’ll be the first to admit that fly fishing is not for everyone. This isn’t because I believe that the pastime should be limited to a select few or that it has an unbearably steep learning curve. When you get past the ‘River Runs Through It’ mystique it’s just outwitting fish, a species not renowned for being analytical thinkers. The entry level skills required are no more difficult to master than ironing. They both feature repetitive motion and leave ample room for introspection.

In fact ironing might be marginally more challenging seeing as you’re dealing with electricity, water and the possibility of ruining a perfectly good pair of pants. At least with fly fishing all you have to worry about is sharp things and where you left the car keys. Unless of course you’re in Australia, where fly fishing can be considered a contact sport, seeing as everything in the natural environment wants to hurt you in some way.


No drop bears?

The constant repetitive casting action engages the higher mental processes completely. The frontal lobe is completely focused on the task of placing the fly gently in the water and avoiding a hook to the back of the head. While this is happening, a deep and disconnected part of the mind is busily forging new mental pathways.

This leads to some unexpected insights. If you ever have the opportunity to view the fly fisherman in his natural habitat you will see many simply sitting quietly, rod at their side. This is not scanning the water or deciding on a course of action. This is a confused individual having a “now where the heck did that come from” moment of mental enlightenment.


Ernest Hemingway poses for the cover of his lesser known work “The Old Man and the Stream”

During one of these moments of clarity I realized that the lessons of fly fishing could give some insight into the art of good copywriting. Here are 15 ways that the hobby of fly fishing can help improve your writing skills.

  1. Take a step back. You have the time on the water, use it wisely. Deadlines are a fact of life, but sometimes, no matter how great the pressure, a little time to pause and consider your approach can pay great dividends.
  2. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Take some time to absorb the work of other skilled copywriters (or fishermen). I’m not for one moment suggesting you plagiarize the work of others – just look at how the piece is structured and how the key messages are woven into the tapestry of the work.
  3. Fish where the fish are. Know your target audience. Know your audience segment, their tastes and their level of knowledge and comfort zone as far as complexity of copy is concerned.
  4.  Practice makes perfect. This cannot be emphasized enough; fishing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Keep at it, only by continually sharpening your skills through practice will you be able to generate that tight, engaging copy that clients and audiences want to read.
  5. Don’t overcomplicate things. Just like fishing, writing is inherently simple. When asked what I do, I often reply that I put words in the correct order. That’s it, KISS.
  6. Get your line in the water. Stuck at the keyboard, blank page staring back? Start writing about the subject in general terms, just get the words down, the rest will take care of itself. Procrastination is a writer’s worst enemy.
  7. Think like a fish. If you’ve chosen copywriting as your career then always be on the lookout for inspiration. Good writing is everywhere. Stephen King once said that “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
  8. Start fishing early and finish as the sun has already set. Fish will bit at the beginning of the day and at days end.  Grab the readers’ attention from the start and wrap it all up by referencing your initial points. Appeal to the human side of the reader, grab their emotions and give them a shake.
  9. Swop some tall tales. At some point in your writing career you’re going to have to get some constructive feedback. Your readers or clients will supply that, in spades. Take criticism and use it to tighten your writing. Good writers are thick skinned, if the conversation isn’t constructive move on.
  10. Take a break. Every minute of every day on the water will give you something new to think about. If you have the luxury of time then write, take a mental step back and consider what you have written. If necessary tighten up or even add greater detail if you think it adds value.
  11. Keep your line tight, that way you can feel the fish take the fly. Sentences can grow out of control. Use punctuation to ensure that your copy is readable. Revert back to grade school rules and read your copy out loud, if you need to take a breath then it’s time for a comma or a full stop. Tighten it up.
  12. Be curious about your environment. Why are the fish fixating in a particular bug? Always provide your readers with answers. Why would they choose this particular product or brand? Why would readers accept a particular point of view?
  13.  Know the rules. Centuries of experience have given some good pointers to doing things in a particular way. Here’s the fun part, once you know the ground rules then break them. Play with grammar and sentence structure, find your own voice.
  14. Have the right tools. Just like fly fisherman have an arsenal of flies and rods you need the right tools for the job. Your Smartphone has a voice recorder, use it to keep track of those unexpected insights and ideas. Download a sticky note app and use it. Organize your ideas and projects into an easy to understand filing system.
  15. Remember why you’re doing this. Stay motivated, all fisherman and writers draw blanks on some days. Keep hitting those keys, write something for fun, start a blog, use the social media. Reach out to other writers in forums across the Internet. They’ll share their tips and tricks and offer a shoulder to cry on.

Was this article helpful? Does your hobby or pastime give you any insights into writing engaging copy or how to make the most from a life of a copywriting?

Feeling enlightened? Happy? Want to share something? Let Proof Perfect know your thoughts via this web site, or visit our Facebook page.

IT’S 2013 – WHERE’S MY FLYING CAR? (From company blog)


It seems that futurologists (that’s a real thing) are continually asking us for patience. Gurus keep telling us that real change is just around the corner. From energy pills to robotic household helpers, the 21st century was supposed to be populated by energy efficient, helpful technology.

Magazine cover future

Some tech has arrived and made a real difference. The Smartphone and tablet revolution has made lightweight processing and crystal clear graphics available via easy to carry packages. This in turn has fed a revolution in the way we interact with each other.

The Social Media has made it easier for the average man (or woman) on the street to engage with friends, family and even strangers in real time. The social media landscape has also revolutionised the way that organisations interact with their customers and partners. This network of interconnected sites has stimulated conversation, stirred debate and fostered real word connections (and increased the popularity of cats – we are all cat people now).


The internet and new delivery channels have made useful information accessible at the brush of a fingertip or the click of a mouse. New technology is now reaching the mainstream that will allow everyman to access the vast data banks of the Internet at the blink of an eye (literally).

So why then is the non-pixelated printed word still so popular? On every bus, in every train there are those who sit quietly, bucking the tablet and Kindle trend with a good book. Pamphlets and brochures still reach our overflowing mailboxes.

The printed word is still gamely fighting the good fight against a rising tide of digital delivery.

It’s not only the users of public transport that enjoy printed matter. According to a 2012 Nielsen survey undertaken in the United States affluent consumers are “avid readers of newspapers, trade journals, travel and home-related magazines.” These are people who, according to the survey are “adopters of high-end technology like digital recorders, video game consoles, smartphones and tablet devices.” They could very easily go the digital route, but choose print.

We’ve discussed this at Proofperfect and the conclusion that we have come to is simple. The printed word is a perfect marriage of convenience and cost. A newspaper or even a well-designed corporate brochure carries information that is relevant and easily accessible to its target audience.

The printed word doesn’t require signing up to a newsfeed or browsing a particular interest area. It’s low tech at its best, – open the cover, turn the page and the information you require is at your fingertips. You can ‘like’ a well written article or piece of marketing copy by passing it on in the physical world. Statistics show that pass on rates for printed material are still extremely good. An average of three people see each printed product. By pointing out an article or marketing message you are sharing in the real world, with real people. You can cut our special offers or articles of interest without resorting to online tools or accepting ‘push’ advertising. You can have fun with a newspaper.

Of course this is a gross simplification, there are other socio political and economic factors at play in many global markets that make newspapers so popular.

For myself I believe that there is a certain mystique to the book, newspaper or even well written piece of marketing collateral. It’s the reason that no one of my family will accompany me to a second hand bookstore. I can lose myself for hours in the sights or leather bound covers, the smell of books or the sounds of pages turning.

Human beings are both visual and tactile thinking organisms, we are excited by sensory experience. A Kindle can deliver the content, and in certain places and at certain times is a very useful tool, however for some it is a simple delivery mechanism, devoid of soul. Real ink, rather than the virtual type is still alive and kicking.

That said, if you like us on Facebook perhaps the Proofperfect team  can rustle up a special something for you (we want you to join the Proofperfect Party – a vote for us can change the world – of engaging communication).

By the way All of us at Proofperfect are waiting with bated breath for that robotic helper. My own experience is that robo helper lite ™ aka the Roomba is more useful as a cat transportation device than actually reducing the time spent picking up hairballs. However, I must admit that distracting the cat does allow me some free time to settle down with a good old fashioned book.


New article up on specialist fishing site –

Some new writing up on

Here’s an extract:


Although many people manage to quite happily fish and cut bait during their down time, any lover of getting a line wet in the great outdoors will know that bait fishing is only one of the options available to the angling enthusiast.

Fishing with rod and reel, using both bone and metal fish hooks was a way of putting food on the table for the ancient Egyptians. Papyrus records also seem to indicate that it the banks of the Nile were shared by those who viewed fishing as a livelihood, and those in search of a relaxing day out.


Izaak Walton, author of the 1653 classic ‘The Compleat Angler’ is considered by many to be the father of sport fishing. He observed that “God never did make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than angling.” His pithy observation on the pastime clearly demonstrates that Mr Walton had not been with a group of Fly Fisherman who were drawing a blank after hours at the lake or riverside, working an expensive carbon fibre lightning rod.

However unshakable Mr Walton’s faith in the even tempered nature of fishermen was, he did have one sage observation that is as true today as it was 360 years ago; “Angling may be said to be so like the mathematics that it can never be fully learned.”

With that in mind, let’s lay the groundwork for an understanding of the choices that face today’s angler in his or her search for that perfect moment of waterside Zen.

Full article:

and another at:

If the link misbehaves please cut and paste into your browser navigation bar.

Articles on owning landed property in Singapore and Malaysia –


Two more articles have been posted to the web. Both of these are to appear in the next print edition version of the coffee table magazine PropertyLife.

Linky goodness:


Here’s an extract of the Singapore article:

Much like its famous chicken rice, Singapore properties are safe and deliciously rewarding. And the city-state’s landed houses, though pricey, even more so.

If you are a foreigner with deep pockets and are lucky enough to receive the blessing of the Singapore government, you can secure your dream home on this equatorial island. Described by many as ‘Asia Lite’, it offers an engaging South-East Asian experience with Western comforts and amenities. But even if you meet the stringent government requirements for landed home purchase, what does Singapore offer that other countries in the region might not?

When Sir David Attenborough visited Singapore in the 1950s, he suggested that the trip was filled with hardship and the destination hardly worth the effort. It was the back of beyond, a series of small tin sheds on the shores of the not-too-sanitary Singapore River.

Times have changed. The renaissance of Singapore as a sought-after property investment and lifestyle destination that began in the 1950s was powered by a forward-thinking leadership and an absolute commitment to the vision of a world-class financial and services-orientated economy.

Landed houses in Singapore: possible or a pipe dream?


The city-state today boasts a glittering downtown skyline, a world-class infrastructure and a vibrant local and expatriate community. Visitors and islanders themselves can take advantage of opportunities to engage in some retail therapy in an environment that rivals the best that New York, Paris and London have to offer. Michelin-starred restaurants exist in a spirit of laissez-faire alongside hawker stalls where a few dollars can unlock the door to gastronomic paradise. In Singapore your diet goes out of the window and an afternoon on the city streets can add inches to the waistline, meaning more business for the bespoke tailors found all over the island.

Here you will have access to some of the best medical care money (and your health insurance) can buy, sparklingly clean streets and a graffiti-free public transportation system (including MRT stations with floors so clean that you could enjoy your world-famous chicken rice right off the tiles) that works on time, every time. A gridlock-free highway system that allows access to all parts of the island and across the Johor Strait causeway into neighbouring Malaysia makes travel by car both scenic and hassle free. Should you have children, they can be placed in private schooling or a tertiary education institution managed by some of the best names in the business. Leisure activities abound, all housed within Singapore’s famously safe and secure precincts.

The combination of stable government, safety, security, a modern infrastructure and the easy availability of imported goods all factor into making the island tremendously attractive to foreign and domestic property buyers.

Singapore has also been described in Time magazine as ‘The Hottest (Little) Economy in the World’. The island hums with activity, downtown is abuzz with excitement and the government is worried that birth rates are falling too fast due to native Singaporeans’ absolute commitment to building wealth. No time for babies, lots of time for business. Putting down roots in this miniature powerhouse is like sticking your finger into the electrical socket of commerce (but in a good way).

Singapore’s location at the crossroads of South-East Asia positions it as the ideal starting point for explorations of an area known for its natural splendour, vibrant cities and business opportunities. For these reasons Singapore today rivals Hong Kong as a property investment destination.

Much of the property market in Singapore is driven by the ever more impressive condominium developments that are a characteristic of its skyline. However, there is also ample opportunity to invest in landed property and enjoy a unique synthesis of South-East Asian excitement and the comforts of a truly global metropolis. This bite-sized entrée to the Asian experience is certainly worth exploring.