Tuesday, 24 February 2015

A little fly order

These little beauts are winging there way across the country; first fly order in a year I think and I'm rather pleased with them. I have used Chadwick's 454 wool - a perfectly good substitute.

Sawyer's Killer Bug
Hook: Partridge BIN sizes 12-16
Underbody: Wine coloured copper wire 0.20mm
Body: Chadwicks 454 as a substitute or 477 for originality
Good luck with them Graham.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Winter solace

Winter chub

A spare day, which for me is rare, was spent in solitude and neoprenes. I needed to get out, there was no expectation to catch; being there was enough. Incidentally I did catch, the chub above and an out of season trout. 

It was obvious I hadn't been fishing for a while, my casting was slack, I kept snapping off as I lifted too exuberantly and I really should have caught over half a dozen. 

The fish were sulky, which made a change, it has been me that has needed cheering up recently. As it happens I spent the day feeling quite upbeat and looking forward to the coming new season. 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

North Country Wet Flies

I attended this years BFFI on Sunday. Hitching a ride with Tom Cull, we picked up his friend Elliot on the way. Not tying on the Funky Fly Tying stand this year meant I could spend more time looking around and invariably spending money. I had a small list of materials that I really wanted to buy; and did a pretty good job sticking to it.

Top of the list were the Partridge Classic Spider hook and Pearsall's silk thread. North country spiders have always had a certain appeal and despite not having the best suited river to fish them on, I'm determined to give them a go this year.

Trying not to tie for tying's sake it is hard to limit the number of different flies that end up in your box; I have found that lacking the materials has curtailed tying too many varieties.

The first fly tied was the Waterhen Bloa, it needs no introduction and is well renowned for being a first class large dark olive imitation; a must for early season. A road kill moorhen that was fresh and in perfect condition was skinned last year for future use, the coverts and under coverts forming the foundation for my spider box.

Waterhen bloa
Waterhen Bloa
Hook: Partridge Spider sizes 14-16
Thread: Pearsalls silk no. 5 yellow
Body: Silk touch dubbed with natural mole
Hackle: Moorhen undercovert
The Waterhen Bloa above was tied with the traditional under covert and whisply dubbed with mole. The pearly-butt version below was tied with the darker, more olive upper (marginal) covert and a slightly more heavily dubbed body - this creates an overall darker fly; both are tied with Pearsall's no. 4 yellow silk thread.

Pearly-butt Waterhen Bloa
Pearly-butt Bloa
Hook: Partridge Spider sizes 14-16
Tag: Fine pearl tinsel
Thread: Pearsall's silk no.5 yellow
Body: Silk touch dubbed with natural mole
Hackle: Moorhen marginal (upper) covert
Another equally famous spider is the Partridge and Orange. There is much debate as to which orange silk thread should be used. I have chosen the brighter orange no. 19 instead of the 6a which is also used.

Partridge and Orange
Partridge and Orange
Hook: Partridge Spider sizes 14-16
Thread: Pearsall's silk no.19 hot orange
Body: Silk thread
Hackle: Partridge
I bought a couple of books from the Coch-y-Bonddhu book stand. Bob Wyatt's What Trout Want has been on my must read list for some time now and another book that caught my eye was only released that weekend. The North Country Fly: Yorkshire's soft hackle tradition by Robert Smith really caught my eye. A quick flick through sealed the deal and money was exchanged for a signed copy. Inside I found a selection of superbly tied wet flies and one in particular caught my eye; even better I had the materials to tie it - a deviation from my list saw my by a pair of coot wings which forms part of the next fly.

The Little Dark Watchet can be considered gaudy as far as spiders go and it is certainly eye catching.

Dark Watchet
Little Dark Watchet
Hook: Partridge Spider sizes 16-18
Thread: Pearsall's silk no.19 hot orange
Body: Pearsall's no.19 and no.8 purple silk touch dubbed with natural mole
Hackle: Coot marginal (upper) covert
Head: As thread
Another classic spider representing the small black end of the spectrum is Stewart's Black spider. Strangely you would think, that given it's name it would be tied with black thread but no, waxed brown silk is used and combined with the starling hackle, gives the fly its black appearance.

Stewart's Black Spider
Stewart's Black Spider
Hook: Partridge Spider sizes 14-20
Thread: Pearsall's silk no.17 brown
Body: As silk
Hackle: Starling wrapped around silk and palmered down the hook shank
A slight deviation from the north country spiders theme, but still connected by the use of silk for tying thread; the JT olive is a simple and proven pattern for imitating upwings. I tie with a slight variation - I use silk to tie the whole fly instead of yellow thread. This is a bit of a nod to the Waterhen Bloa which it is superficially similar too.

JT Olive
JT Olive
Hook: Partridge SLD sizes 14-20
Thread: Pearsall's silk no.5 yellow or and yellow thread
Tail: Coq-de-Leon
Body: Yellow silk or thread over-dubbed with natural mole
Wing: CDC feathers, numbers appropriate to fly size
However it isn't the JT olive I'm really revealing, but a fly I saw on Paul Procters excellent and well overdue blog here (it's been a year now Paul!). It resembles the JT olive in shape and construction and I felt it would do well given the same treatment of silk instead of thread. Imitating the diminutive and seductively dark iron blue dun, the Iron Blue Cul follows the same proven formula as the JT olive and Jeremy Lucas' Plume tip. 

I have tied this with Pearsall's no. 15 dark claret silk touch dubbed with mole and Troutline slate cdc for the wing, this gives the dark appearance needed to replicate the IBD; all I need now is to come across a hatch of them, at least I'll be prepared if I do.

Iron Blue Cul
Iron Blue Cul
Hook: Partridge SLD sizes 18-20
Thread: Pearsall's silk no.15 dark claret
Tail: Dark dun microfibbets
Body: Silk over-dubbed with natural mole
Wing: Troutline CDC slate
Having digressed away from spiders, my interpretation of an iron blue spider follows the same principle as the IBC by utilising the same silk and mole dubbed body. I found a fantastically coloured dark dun hen hackle on the Cookshill stand and this finished the spider off perfectly.

Iron Blue Spider
Iron Blue Spider
Hook: Partridge Spider sizes 16-18
Thread: Pearsall's silk no.15 dark claret
Body: Silk touch dubbed with natural mole
Hackle: Dark dun hen
I purchased four sizes of the Partridge spider hook - 12 to 18 - it wasn't until I unloaded all my goodies at home that it became obvious the size 12's were particularly large. It was a struggle to think of any flies that could be tied on them; I will experiment and perhaps come up with a mayfly spider as this may be the only thing that will look right. I did however try a fly on the size 12, a Sturdy's Fancy which incidentally suits this style of hook, has so far been the only one.

Sturdy's Fancy Wet Fly
Sturdy's Fancy
Hook: Partridge Spider sizes 12-16
Thread: Pearsall's silk no.8 purple
Tail: Red floss
Body: Peacock herl
Hackle: White hen
Head: Pearsall's silk no.8 purple
The last fly I have tied on the spider hooks is a Tweed style Greenwells Glory, taking instruction from Oliver Edwards Wet Fly Fishing on Rivers DVD, I found the starling primary quill feather troublesome to tie with, although with a little persistence I succeeded in tying a small batch of them. Another treat from the Cookshill stand was the Bailey wax collection - I bought all three - and used the cobblers wax to colour the no. 4 silk.

Greenwells Glory
Greenwells Glory
Hook: Partridge Spider sizes 14-16
Thread: Pearsall's silk no.5 yellow
Body: Pearsall's silk no.5 darkened with cobblers wax to make it an olive hue
Rib: Fine gold wire
Wing: Starling primary wing feather bunched and split
Hackle: Greenwells hen

Monday, 2 February 2015

Chalkstream essentials

Chalkstream essentials

A misgiving title perhaps, as these two flies are most certainly found in a variety of flowing water other than chalkstreams; but if you frequent this type of environment they will feature highly in the diet of the trout.

Shrimp patterns vary greatly - from simply dubbed bodies with a shell back, to more realistic ties incorporating various appendages and an overall more close-copy look.

I tend to sit in the area occupied by the more realistic flies and although it may seem tricky to tie, Oliver Edwards shrimp is by far one of the best out there.

Gammarus freshwater shrimp
Oliver Edwards Freshwater Shrimp/Gammarus
Hook: Curved grub hook sizes 12-16
Thread: Danville spiderweb or fine GSP
Tail and Antenna: Partridge
Shellback: Clear flexibody
Rib: Clear mono around 4lb BS or 0.18mm
Body: SLF Finesse Masterclass River and Stream no.14 Gammarus pulex
Legs: Partridge trapped in a dubbing loop
Gammarus freshwater shrimp

Gammarus freshwater shrimp

Gammarus freshwater shrimp

Ephemera danica - the mayfly - needs no introduction. My mainstay dry mayfly pattern has always been the Mohican mayfly; you may spot a common trend, I do love Oliver Edwards patterns, I have no shame in using a lot of his flies, but I digress.

Although the Mohican mayfly is an outstanding fly, sometimes it makes a change to try something different. Having received a copy of Peter Hayes' Fishing outside the box, he wrote that he uses slightly larger PhD's for fishing early in the mayfly hatch when the trout haven't yet got over the size of the real things. Taking things a little further, a PhD tied to represent the mayfly seems logical. A pack of Nature's Spirit mallard flank dyed light olive proved to be a great match for the yellow-olive wings of the natural dun.

Danica PhD
Mayfly PhD
Hook: Partridge Supreme Dry sizes 10-12
Thread: 55d GSP
Tail: Moose body or mane
Body: Cream dubbing
Rib: Brown thread
Hackle: Grizzle dyed yellow and medium grey dun wrapped paraloop style
Thorax: Dark Brown dubbing
Wing: Light olive dyed mallard flank
Danica PhD

Danica PhD

Danica PhD