Wednesday, 31 December 2008

2008 into 2009

2008 has been a good year. It has seen me visit several new places, meet loads of new and interesting people and I also got married. So all in all, a busy and exciting year. I thought I'd post a few pictures from this year before we consider 2009. I must say thanks for reading my blog - it is only you that make these things worth doing. I have been lucky enough this year to meet, speak with, be in contact with some of the finest fly fishermen and tyers in the world. Thanks to all of those who have inspired me.

Even with a wet summer, My local Wellow brook continued to be a beautiful place. It always throws up a few suprises:

Pike fishing on Chew valley; we moved lots of big fish, but they just wouldn't play. So we had to put up with the smaller residents... great fun with the fly and something I hope to do even more of in 2009:

I also had the pleasure of visiting and doing some tying at the British Fly Fair:

...and one last pattern for the year:

Slim Line:

Hook: Grip 14723BL #16 - #12
Thread: 10/0 Olive Powersilk
Rib: as thread, waxed
Thorax: Superfine #25
Hackle: Metz #1 Hen, Dun

All the best,

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Wrapping up a year's fishing

Today was a really enjoyable day. I had been invited to fish a beat of the Wylye I had not fished before. There was a biting Eaterly wind that kept the temperature around the zero mark all day. Desite that, I managed a couple of fish, including one around 1.25lb. This was a lovely male fish that put up an excellent scrap. In fact, a few fish even started to rise prompting the NZ style fishing - but it was the nymph that did the work - a small pink, tungsten beaded pattern:

Very obliging fish.

It all became a little too cold though and the pub was calling for a very welcome beer. We didn't fish on, although we tried out some new rods on the grass before heading back. Now another rod ordered...

Thanks to all of those whose invited me, fished and made today so enjoyable. A great way to wrap up a year's fishing.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Waste Not Want Not

In an age where we are persuaded to recycle, today I started to wonder about the amount of waste materials there are when tying. Could there be a use?...

Hook: Grip 14723BL #16 - 12
Thread: Moser Powersilk, olive 10/0
Hackle: Coq de Leon hen, dyed dark olive
Body: Soft, downy fibres from hackle feather
Tail: Fibres from hackle feather
Rib: As thread

Saturday, 27 December 2008

When the wind is the East... becomes much colder. For that reason I can easily understand why the 'fish bite the least'. We walked today in an attempt to blow some of those Christmas food and drink-induced cobwebs free. Blown away or not, they certianly will have gathered a nice layer of frost on them.

So we are in the bridge between Christmas and New Year - this is the time to think over what you've learned from the year gone by - an important time for reflection. It's funny how it becomes difficult to work out whether something happened this year or last; yet the year seems to have whizzed by. I will think on more and post my reflections soon.

In the meantime, I have been back at the vice. Whilst I love them winter, I have started already to have those thoughts of warmer, calmer weather and my interest (obsession) with simple emergers continues:

Ginger & Badger Emerger:

Hook: Partridge 15BN #14
Thread: Bennechi 12/0, yellow
Rib: Copper wire
Abdomen: Natural Awesome Possum
Thorax: Orange A/P & cream A/P
Hackle: ginger / golden badger rooster, mixed (paraloop)

Dark & Honey Dun Emerger:

Hook: Partridge 15BN #14
Thread: Bennechi 12/0, yellow
Rib: 1/69" pearl mylar (#16 UNI)
Abdomen & Thorax: Natural Awesome Possum
Hackle: Dark & honey dun rooster, mixed (paraloop)

I am playing around with some new ideas here which hopefully will develop further. I'll post more as I go.

Thanks for looking; please check by soon,

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Golden Olive Emerger

Loop wing emergers just scream life, especially with those longer trailing fibres. I also like to leave the tips protruding over the eye to add to the 'busy-ness' of the fly. I am certain that little things like this can make a difference to the profile of the fly - and ultimately the success of a pattern. Here's trying some new cdc I acquired today; perhaps a yellow may emerger:

Hook: Partridge Flashpoint 15BN #18
Thread: Bennechi 12/0 yellow
Body: Awesome Possum, natural
Rib: Thread
Wing: Golden olive CDC
Thorax: Golden Stone A/P

Happy Christmas everyone. Thanks for supporting my blog. It makes it all worth while.


Sunday, 21 December 2008

Everything surrounding you...

Cold water, hollow trees, robins and woodpeckers. I just seemed to be surrounded by wildlife today. It's good to be reminded that you are invading something else's world.

Saturday, 20 December 2008


After battling through the Christmas shopping crowds, I found some peace at the vice. I am fishing tomorrow and thought I'd tie up some emergers for more turblent water (in preparation for a mid-day flurry of hatching flies...(please...)). Amongst the cul de canard used in some of these patterns, I have incorporated a foam back, leaving them almost unsinkable. Useful for that faster water - which I expect there will be even more of with the recent wet weather:

Friday, 19 December 2008

Festivities start here...

Finished work today for Christmas. Will try to sort all the gifts and stuff out tommorrow and then it's down the River Wylye for some grayling fishing on Sunday.

Rains seems to have eased and, whilst there's a bit of drizzle, forecast is not too bad at all. Temperatures have risen a bit and, although I'd like it colder for the destive season,a slight rise may just see Sunday produce a few fish.

Eventually my new flies for Hans Weilenmann's website arrived in Amstelveen. I thought they had disappeared in the post's europena triangle - they took over a week to get there. Must be the Christmas rush. Hans has photographed them and I am really pleased with the results. I sent him some #30 flies too and almost all of those seemed to be a success.

Hans' ability with the camera is really second to none. I hope an update will be done soon and these new pictures will be on site for you to see.
In the mean time, if you haven't looked through it (ever or for a while...), take a look at the website. I regularly drop back in and have a look and always find something new to whet the appetite. The link is on the front page of the blog.


Monday, 15 December 2008

Roy Christie's Flies

I had promised to share with you some photos of flies from when Roy Christie visited the Bristol Fly Dressers' Guild.

I has sent Roy some porcupine to try out the week before and I was delighted when he presented me with his Inversed Danica imitation:

The picture simply doesn't do this work of art justice. A wonderful example of fly dressing - thankyou Roy. One for the display box...

I have also tied some flies following Roy's suggestions and tips. Obviously not the genuine article, tied only by me, but hopefully they give the idea behind these innovative patterns.

The Inverse, Reverse Emerger:

This fly has the hackle tied in a monofilament paraloop and with a sunken tippet, itworks a treat. Very natural presentation.

The Avon Special:

Obviously tied with the hackle around the bend of the hook, I have bent the shank slightly to achieve the desired shape. I haven't quite got it right but it gives the idea of the effect. This pattern was an absolute life-saver for me last summer on Wales' River Usk.

If you get the chance to watch Roy tie (he is a regular show tyer in the UK and US)I highly recommend it.


Sunday, 14 December 2008

Chew Valley

Chew Valley, December 2008

OK, I know I said I'd post some pictures of Roy's flies, and it will happen soon - but not today...

The rain had stopped and today was much better - forecast was for mist and fog, but it was actually quite clear. So I thought I'd escape from work and the computer and head to Chew Valley for a walk - very wet under foot but really god to get out. Chew Valley reservoir is stunning: lying South of Bristol it occupies some 1500 acres. It is a haven for bird watching, sailing and, of course, fly fishing. It's well stocked with rainbows and there's a good head of browns too - although they are some what elusive. They do show occasionally and they are sometimes monsters! There is also a good head of self-populating pike that offer some excellent sport on the fly - lots of doubles and fish over 30lb. I am lucky enough to have all this within 10 minutes of my house.

No fishing to be had here in the winter, but it is an impressive place. It really hammers home the winter feel - which I love. Plus there's plenty of wildlife to enjoy amongst the spectacular views.

Seeing the Robins around today made me realise they are actually very well coloured to blend with their surroundings.


Great to be out. I'll post the fly pictures soon.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Washed Out

Well, I tried to go fishing today - invited to fish some lovely chalkstreams, but the sudden (although not unexpected rain) put a dampner (literally) on that. I didn't even see the Avon or the Wylye since the roads for me to get there were heavily flooded. Those rivers more prone to flooding had clearly done just that - the River Frome (not the chalk one) was a good 3-4ft up and racing through (and in the fields). It was alot of rain very quickly. So we just aborted the mission with the promise to sort out a new date over Christmas.

Wednesday night was put aside for watching Roy Christie tie at the Fly Dressers Guild (Bristol) meeting. Roy is a great guy, excellent tyer and very informative. Have alook at his flies here:

His inversed, reversed flies are really interesting. I've tied and fished these a fair bit this season and can certainly say they work.

Later I'll post some more pictures of Roy's flies.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Published in Fly Rodders

I received an email yesterday to say that a couple of my flies had been published in 'Fly Rodders' - a Japanese fly fishing & tying magazine.

I had been asked to put together some step-by-steps and write a few words on a couple of soft-hackled flies I had been tying and fishing. The article was to be put together by Masahito Sato. Look out for this guy's work - really interesting, impressive flies. He is soon to be seen the 'Fly Tyers of the Worls' published by VEM (Steve Thornton).

Anyway, it ended up in print. The problem is my Japanese isn't great so I am really not sure how the article reads...

Anyway, I enjoyed seeing my stuff in print, even if I can't understand it. I can look at the pictures though!

Thanks to all those that have taken the time to look through the blog so far.

Whilst we're on the emerging fly theme, here are a couple more to add to the mix:

This is tied on a #30 2210Varivas hook: a smaller variant of the 'Once & Away' (originally by Hans van Klinken)

Tiny, yes: but it will catch those picky fish when all else fails.


Monday, 8 December 2008


Emerging flies - those that break the surface film and wriggle from their nymphal 'shuck' - make up a significant part of the trout and grayling's diets. Why? Simple I guess - they are vulnerable.

To hatch, the fly must ascend the water column, leaving the safety of it rocky shelter on the river bed. When it makes it to the top and breaks through the surface film, it must squeeze free as it makes its transformation into the dun. In doing so, it leaves itself open to attention. Plus, it can't just fly away- it needs time to allow the wings to unfold, dry and become ready for flight.

When you start to think about it, it's a wonder any of them actually make it. Here are a few examples:

These will all eventually be photographed 'properly' and put on Hans Weilenmann's Flytier page.
Thanks for looking.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Catch Magazine

Stumbled accross this today:

Stunning photography and an amazing selction of macro shots of mayflies. The presentation is superb and reads like a book... literally. Hats off to those involved; it captures the essence of fly fishing.

Take a look and enjoy!

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Winter Dry Fly

The forecast was spot on and the cold weather certainly put in an appearance. As made the hour's drive, the temperature continued to drop and it was a cool -2 degrees when I finally arrived. Several layers under neoprene waders was a minimum. On this beat you have to wade to get the best from the fishing. On the 1st December, this ceases and all fishing must be from the bank. This is to protect the salmon and trout redds as they start to spawn.

Heavy bugs was the call for the first couple of hours with little to show for my efforts. I spotted a few out-of-season browns (one about 2lb) sitting in slack water near the fishing hut. The water was carrying a little colour - the 'misty' colour that even chalkstreams take on when there has been some rain. The call for warm coffee and an escape from wading was essential. The morning passed and we approached the 'warmest' part of the day.

Amongst the seams of current I started to notice a few rises: just one or two at first; then more. Enough to encourage me to uses Klinkhamer with a tungsten-beaded nymph fished New Zealand style (with the nymph's tippet attached the bend of the dry-fly's hook). There was immediate interest in both. Sometimes a fish would pluck at the dry-fly. Other times, the dry just vanished indicating the nymph had been taken. The grayling were responding to the hatch of olives: the emerging insects carried by the current with small grey wings - like tiny sail boats.

Several grayling obliged; as did a big old trout that , judging by the state of its fins had already started spawning. Slipped back, I moved on to avoid catching any more out-of-season fish.

The grayling had their fill and within an hour it was back to the odd rise. The best of the sport was over. Back to the bugs for the last hour, but it was the dry that had reigned supreme today - even in the cold.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Planning for Grayling

I am hoping to fish on Saturday. Forecast is for a very cold NE wind and temperatures not managing much more than 5 degrees. Fishing the Wylye valley usually means that the temperature stays even lower: I've had days when apparently the sun has been shining, but with the fog being heavy in the valley, it never made it above the magic zero degrees.

The Wylye (when it's a little warmer!)

When temperatures are that low, grayling will tend the shoal up and huddle in pods... sometimes tens of fish strong. However, they will usually feed at some point. The fly needs to be at the right depth the right size and acting in the right way. Suprisingly pink flies succeed. They imitate nothing-in-nature - well at least not to us. But do fish really see colour? Perhaps. But, I believe, not in the same way as we do. I have heard many, many arguments and discussions about this. We may never know. However, one idea that has always stuck with me is that pink is seen as a more neutral, grey colour. A colour (or shade?) that we do not perceive?

Either way, on a cold day with clear water, a pink fly can often persuade a grayling to take. Sometimes it needs to be big and bright, just like the previous pictures I have posted. Sometimes, just a hint of pink...

This hot spot 'Czech Nymph' is formed with a pink hen hackle - spun in a split thread. An interesting alternative fly.

Sometimes, a smaller fly, but equally bright will work. On their day a small pink-hackled spider ('soft-hackle) fly will bring the goods...

These flies' hackles pulse in the current and really give the impression of life - a sure imitation of olive or caddis larvae. Such a pink fly is, I suppose, quite extreme: it could make the purist of fly fishers wince. But why not use them? Well if they work...

More subtle, suggestive flies may be required though. Grayling can be very choosy when the mercury drops.
It always amazes me that, even a rise of a couple of degrees will see some olives start hatching. It doesn't take the fish long to adapt and start to rise. The hatch may only last for ten (maybe five) minutes, but a well placed emerger or dry will often bring the goods:

These two flies are some of the latest creations, using Rob McLeans Quill Bodies. A realistic alternative to dubbing bodies.

Hopefully the grayling will be ready, waiting and hungry when I get there tomorrow.

Tight lines.