Sunday, 15 November 2009

British Fly Fair 2009

The Fly Fair last weekend at Trentham Gardens was a fantastic event as usual. The weekend was a great opportunity to watch and learn from some of the great tyers from around the world. I took the opportunity to catch up with some of my favourite tyers including Chris Watson, Phil Holding, Roy Christie and Dave Wiltshire, these guys tie flies that catch fish, not the angler. Each time I watch them I learn so much and come away with so many ideas. The Caddis below was tied by Chris Watson and the Shrimp by Phil Holding, both superb flies.

During the show my friend, Keith Passant, under took a 24hr Tying Marathon in aid of Casting for Recovery and Help for Heroes. I donated the box below for the auction that followed, where further funds were raised for the charities. This was a great effort by Keith.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

CDC Emerger

I was recently bought the book 'Tying Flies with CDC' by Leon Links, this has proved an inspiration in the use of CDC. I have been tying a few flies over the last couple of weeks including this emerger. The possibilities and uses of CDC are endless as demonstrated on Dave Wiltshire's blog, and the website of Jean-Paul Dessaigne ,

Friday, 16 October 2009

Looking Forward to the BFFI

Last Friday I spent the afternoon tying at the Orvis shop in Burford as part of their open weekend. The afternoon was very rewarding, it was good to talk and share techniques with other tyers.

Keith Passant, who works in the Orvis shop, will be undertaking a 24 hour tying marathon at the BFFI next month, principally in aid of Casting for Recovery, a very worthwhile charity. Please look up Keith if you are visiting the show and give your support. I believe there will be a raffle and auction during Sunday afternoon with plenty of items up for grabs.

If you haven't been to the BFFI before, it is well worth the trip, it is a great weekend, you can learn so much from some of the best tyers in the world. Take a look at the website,

Whilst browsing the site this week I came across a link to Jean-Paul Dessaigne's website, This is a fantastic site, with many excellent patterns, complete with tying instructions, this is worthy of a place in anybody's favourites.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Black Gnat Paraloop

I bought the book 'Tying flies the Paraloop Way' by Ian Moutter a couple of months ago but had done nothing with it until now. The technique produces a neat hackle that sits nicely on the top the fly. This allows the fly to sit on top the water rather than above it and therefore improving the profile when viewed from below. This is a very practical alternative to the traditional hackle. The flies above are Black Gnats.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Pheasant Tail Nymph

The Sawyer Pheasant Tail is a fly I use an awful lot, particularly in sizes 16 and 18. This season it has been my 'go to' fly and it rarely fails to produce some sort of interest.

I like to tie the flies in the traditional manner, however I do have a problem obtaining tail feathers with fibres of the right length, however I have developed a two part method of tying the fly to make use of the smaller feathers.

I have often wondered if Frank Sawyer would have used the same materials if he had designed the fly today, with the vast amount that are available. Pictured are two variations, the first using a small bead for the thorax and the second creating a body from EP-Trigger Point International Fibres (colour-March Brown).

Monday, 14 September 2009

Daddy Long Legs

This Daddy Long Legs pattern is taken from Malcolm Greenhalgh book, The Floating Fly. The fly sits beautifully on the water and can be deadly at this time of the year. The takes are often very savage and spectacular, however for one reason or another there seems to have been very few around this year.

I have used ginger rabbit dubbing for the body on this fly, using a little squirrel belly to enhance the colouring. The grey poly-yarn wing has been tied in as two small wings and the hackle wound front to back between the wings and tied off at the end of the body to give the effect I was looking for.

Malcolm’s book is well worth reading, describing the most recent develops in dry fly design. The book contains a chapter on the flies that Malcolm uses, however tying instructions are not included. The book is written in a very engaging manner and is very readable, giving the tyer plenty of food for thought.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009


I tied these after a friend told me about some large Perch in a lake that he fancied tackling with a fly.

The flies are not my normal type of thing but I thought they might do the trick with the Perch. The left fly is grey frosty fish fibre and black calf tail and the right fly is white antron, green streamer hair and a hint of black calf tail. We fished one evening and caught plenty of Perch but only small ones, it will be interesting to have another go, but it will need to wait until the end of the trout season.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The Stimulator

Having returned from holiday in the Lake District, I visited the Windrush this week.

The river was fairly low but retained a good flow, however the water was quite coloured after some recent rain. I fished through the afternoon into the early evening without success and barely saw a rise in the time I was there. One memorable moment occured when a very large chub rose to a Stimulator but failed to take the fly, the spot has been noted for a visit with coarse tackle in the autumn.

Interestingly the Stimulator also did the trick a few weeks ago on a lake when the Rainbows were striking at Damsel Flies.
I first saw this fly demonstrated by Stack Scoville at the Fly Fair in 2008. I may have changed a few colours but it is basically the same fly. I see that Stack is demonstrating at the Fly Fair again this year, it's well worth taking a look a his flies if you get the opportunity.

Sunday, 5 July 2009


The beetle pattern is based on a fly tied by Chris Watson. The underbody of peacock herl was intended to to give the blue/green colouring of the beetle. When tying this pattern you must use a fine wire hook and not overstretch the foam to prevent the fly from sinking. It worked like a dream on Friday as you can see from my previous post, but I imagine it will very effective after plenty of rain.

River Leach

I fished the River Leach on Friday evening. The river is very much in need of some rain, but thankfully the flows are holding up nicely.

I took 3 fish during the evening all on a beetle pattern. It's possible the fish don't see these flies very often as they were taken fairly readily or maybe it was just a going night.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Blue Flash Damsel

I fished the lakes at Albury a few weeks ago with a friend. The lakes are well kept and stocked with plenty of fish. Many fish are taken on the Blue Flash Damsel, a fly I have not come across before. I have tied a few flies for him as a thank you and created a few variations,with varying amounts of blue in the body.

River Windrush

I fished the River Windrush yesterday morning and took two nice Brownies. The first to a Sawyer Pheasant Tail and second on a Black Klinkhammer. The Sawyer really is a great fly, so simply yet so effective. It was a very wet morning and I saw nobody else on the river. Although there is still a good flow on the river, this rain is much needed and will freshen everything up.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Sawyer Pheasant Tail and Stuie's Olive

I have been tying a few more flies this week for Keith Passant's Fly Tying Marathon in August. The first is Stuie's Olive, featured by Charles Jardine in the April 2009 Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Magazine and the second is the Sawyer Pheasant Tail. The Sawyer really is a very underated fly, so simple but so effective, often overlooked in favour of more complex patterns.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Griffith's Gnat

Griffith’s Gnat

Hook – dry fly, size 14
Thread – black, 14/0
Body – peacock herl (x3)
Rib – grizzly cock saddle hackle

I have started to tie a few flies for a Casting for Recovery fundraiser. My friend Keith Passant will again be undertaking a 24 fly tying marathon in aid of this great charity at the Orvis shop in Burford. Any donations in terms of sponsorship and raffle / auction prizes would be gratefully received by Keith.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Not much posting recently. The final results of the Fly Tying League were published last month, I finished 7th in the Open Class, I was over the moon.

I have been tying some Mohican Mayfly's from Oliver Edwards Masterclass. The flies not only look superb, they sit on the the water upright every time and they are great fun to tie.

I'm looking forward to putting them to use in the next few weeks.

Saturday, 4 April 2009


I have been tying a few Klinkhammers this week. The body is black supperfine ribbed with black holographic Mylar tinsel, with a thorax of peacock herl. The wing is white antron and the hackle a Herbert Miner Dark Brown dun Rooster Saddle.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Vulnerable Dun

I have been tying a few Vulnerable Duns (a Chris Watson creation) in preparation for the new season. The fly has been tied on various sizes from 14 down to 22 using Aero Dry Wing with a few strands of Krystal Flash UV Pearl for the wing, a body dubbed with Superfine and ribbed with thread (ropped and coloured with permanant marker), a shuck of white McFlylon with a few strands of Krystal Flash UV Pearl and a hackle, in this instance, from a Metz Grizzly Hackle.

FF and FT League Round 4

Round 4 of the League required three Quill Dries. Dressing as follows:
Hook: Partridge Surehold Dry Barbless
Thread: Black 8/0
Wing: Mallard Feather Slips
Tail: Cock Hackle Fibres
Body: Stripped Peacock Quill
Hackle: Whiting Brown Saddle Hackle
This fly proved more troublesome that at first glance. I tried several methods of stripping the peacock quill satisfactorily including hair remover which seem to weaken the quill itself and make it impossible to tie. I eventually opted to soak the quills in water for 24 hours and strip using a very good quality rubber. The slip wings were not easy, are they ever, and after a couple of weeks of tearing my hair out, I tied them in as I usually do with the wings lying along the hook and after one loop of thread moving the waste end in a seesaw motion to create a valley in the slip.
I am third after Round 3 so have high hope of a good finish.
Back to tying some flies for the new season.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Wally Wing Mayfly

At the Fly Fair last year I was impressed by the Wally Wing Mayfly tied by Chris Watson. I have been trying to master the technique on and off since then and contacted Chris who was kind enough to help. The picture is of my latest effort. On this particular fly I have used Fly Rite dubbing, #38 Pale Watery Yellow, from Niche and a Dark Smokey Dun Hackle from Collins in the US.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Fly Tying League Round 3

My second fly for round 3 was a The Green Nymph Variation. This was tied on a size 14 wet fly hook. The body is flourescent green floss overlaid with monofilament, the hackle brown Partridge and the head Peacock herl. The hackle was very difficult to get as full as the fly in the magazine even if it was doubled using conventional tying. I decided to cut hackles from the feather and tie them in forward over the eye and then stroke them back once I had formed the body. The picture shows more of the thread at the end of the body than I would have liked but the hackle looks nice.

Fly Tying League Round 3

After round 2 of the league I am equal 2nd, can't quite believe it!

The 3rd round flies are Czech Nymphs. These were tied using the following materials.

Hook: Partridge Fine Wire Czech Nymph, size 12

Underbody: 0.015 Round Lead Wire

Outer Rib: Monofilament

Shellback: Clear Thin Skin

Inner Rib: Sulky Gold Holoshimmer (from sewing shop)

Body: Rabbit Dubbing in Olive and Rusty Brown

Head: Thread colour with marker and varnished

Not totally happy with these flies, I should have paid more attention to the number of ribs on each fly to be more consistent and the head can be difficult due to the bulk of materials to tie in. The lead underbody has the thread ramped up at either end to give a smoother outline prior to adding any other materials. The shellback is coloured using Stazon Timber Brown ink from a craft shop. I have also started to paint the head with a small brush and several coats of head cement to get a better finish, particularly on flies similar to this

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

The Floating Fly by Malcolm Greenhalgh

This is a great book that cleverly combines the development of the floating fly, as Malcolm describes it, with examples of the latest ideas working in practice.

The book follows the history of the dry fly and refers to earlier writing on the subject, where significant developments have taken place. This is particularly useful, if like myself you are fairly new to fly fishing. Malcolm brings each thread up to date with the most recent thinking. Each subject is supported by stories from Malcolm's own experiences, either rejecting or supporting various ideas.

The latter part of the book provides details of some of the patterns that Malcolm uses, how they were developed and situations where they might be used. They are described as "Dry flies that catch fish" and give the impression that is what they do, they are not flashy flies for the angler, but in the most part very simply flies. The book does not give tying instruction, there are plenty of others to give you the infomation you need to tie the patterns.

A book well worth reading, written as though you were just chatting at the bar, very readable.

Fly Tying League Round 2

Round 2 of the Fly Tying League required three CDC Loopwing Emergers to be tied. The fly is very straight forward to tie, however I found that the CDC loopwing either worked first time or not at all and it was pointless messing about trying to make it look good.

Hook - size 14

Thread - brown

Tail - brown partridge fibres

Abdomen - Arizona dubbing

Wing - Natural CDC

Thorax - Arizona dubbing

The results of Round 1 have just been announced, I am equal 30th, a very pleasing start.

Fly Tying League Round 2

For the additional fly in Round 2 of the Fly Tying League I have tied John Goddard's Poly May Spinner.

Hook - size 12
Thread - black
Tails - 3 or 4 black microfibetts
Wings - black and white calfs tail
Body - white poly yarn
Hackle - 3 turns of black cock

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Pheasant Tail Spider

The Pheasant Tail Spider.

The body is pheasant tail fibre, I used two fibres, and the hackle is Grey Partridge.

Partridge and Yellow

The Partridge and Yellow Spider

The body is yellow thread and the hackle Grey Partridge.

The hackle is a little heavy in this example.

Lurex Spider

The Lurex Spider.

I have changes the pattern slightly using white uni-floss for the body and a Jackdaw's hackle.

Greenwell's Spider

The Greenwell's Spider.

The body is yellow thread (dark waxed) with gold wire rib. The hackle from a variegated dun hen.

Black Spider

The Black Spider.
Black thread body and black hen hackle.

Phil Holding at the Fly Fair recommended that the body should go back as far as the hook point and the head should be finished with 2 half hitches to minimise bulk. Using a finer thread will also give a neater finish.

Black and Peacock

Having been busy completing some decorating, there was no tying until after Christmas.

Encouraged by Phil Holding at the Fly Fair and the Spidersplus website I have been tying a few spiders and hope to fish with them more often next year.

The first is the Black and Peacock. A peacock herl body and black hen hackle.
This, and all the following spiders are tied on 14 and 16 wet hooks.