Category Archives: Orvis

Mitchi mayflies!


My Darling photographed this mayfly last weekend whilst we walked along the River Thames. It’s delicate wings were no match against blustery winds and at the risk of anthropomorphism, the little treasure was grateful for the chance to rest and strike a pose…

Mayflies are a dream come true for trout and fishermen alike!

Mayflies are a dream come true for trout and fishermen alike! Photo – worklondonstyle

This picture provides a sense of overall proportions:

I have a brilliant solution to sourcing the fine tailpieces... Will reveal all in due course...

I have a brilliant solution to sourcing the fine tailpieces… Will reveal all in due course… Photo – worklondonstyle

Earlier during the same walk, I had read an interesting article in one of the monthly fly fishing magazines about tabby cat fur being a purrfect (sorry!) source of dubbing material written by a highly successful young member of the English fly fishing team. Having already featured our very own Mitchi’s discarded whiskers on miniature dry flies, the next logical step was to harvest her loose fur from our couch.

Today I put all the pieces of the puzzle together to produce the following:

Cat fur dubbing provides a slim body profile and a pair of miniature hen hackles form excellent wings. What will the trout make of the end result?

Cat fur dubbing provides a slim body profile and a pair of miniature hen hackles form excellent wings. What will the trout make of the end result? Photo – metiefly

view from the top... Photo - metiefly

view from the top… Photo – metiefly

The original...

The original… Photo – worklondonstyle

The copy... metiefly Mitchi mayfly using locally sourced materials :-)

The copy… metiefly Mitchi mayfly using locally sourced materials 🙂 photo – metiefly

Mitchi is anticipating the finest cuts of the proceeds in due course…

purrfect collaboration... Thanks to Mitchi for sustainable use of materials at its best!

purrfect collaboration… Thanks to Mitchi for sustainable use of materials at its best! Photo – metiefly

Thank you for reading – please return soon!

cracking the code…


Greetings to all and apologies for my long silence… I spent many hours at my local lake recently in an attempt to use my season tickets before the end of March. I have thoroughly enjoyed working through myriads of challenges – bright sunshine, howling gales, cold fronts and different crowds of like minded anglers.

I am fortunate to have caught some stunning fish over the last few weekends. Each one is a cherished experience and a wonderful reward for hours spent first at the vice and then at the water’s edge. I take special interest in what the trout are biting, especially on days when conditions have been tougher than normal. I am not surprised to know that the real stalwarts have not changed and after careful consideration I spent tonight preparing myself for further tests tomorrow.

I know what the trout are looking for – will I be able to provide it in the correct place at the right time?

Herewith the fruits of tonight’s labour at my vice:

three of the finest - coarse deer hair tips and a striking colour combination. In the morning I'll find out how well they work

three of the finest – coarse deer hair tips and a striking colour combination. In the morning I’ll find out how well they work

I catered for the following requirements:

1) Size is key – larger than usual flies worked better last weekend, perhaps due to the slightly coloured water. These are size 12.

2) Depth is key – these flies have a bead AND a wire core. I used the very tips of the deer hair fibres which are less buoyant and highly durable.

3) Distance is key – I used sparse, short deer hair tips for the tails and the collars to minimise drag whilst casting. Higher than usual numbers of fishermen standing at the edge of the lake have chased most fish into the middle. All three of my fish last weekend took at the end of a long cast, shortly after I had begun my retrieve.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to your next visit!

adult damselfly prototypes


I was delighted when Orvis had exactly what I was looking for this afternoon! A brisk walk into town paid off when I was able to source some blue closed cell foam and some navy blue hackles. The prototypes of my blue damselfly are not ideal yet, however each time I tie another one, I am a step closer to unlocking the perfect formula. I was impressed with the wrapped deer hair tails on some of Orvis’s flies however they lack the sparkle of the Krystal Flash.

I might try some of these tomorrow in the hope of coaxing an unsuspecting trout into thinking he’s getting the first one of the season!

A variety of different techniques show certain promise however I'm not there yet - looks like I still have some exploring to do!

A variety of different techniques show certain promise however I’m not there yet – looks like I still have some exploring to do!

Early days - they need some field testing to see what O. mykiss thinks so far...

Early days – they need some field testing to see what O. mykiss thinks so far…

On our return walk from Central London, I picked up a piece of orange Organdie ribbon, which I turned into streamers for the Thames – orange is a hot favourite when water clarity is not great.

Remember to keep your eyes peeled at all times - tying materials are not necessarily expensive and you never know when your next breakthrough ingredient is about to reveal itself!

Remember to keep your eyes peeled at all times – tying materials are not necessarily expensive and you never know when your next breakthrough ingredient is about to reveal itself!

If you click on my link to the Featherbender blog on the right hand column, then search the site for 'organdie' you will find an amazing pattern for saltwater shrimp... Enjoy!

If you click on my link to the Featherbender blog on the right hand column, then search the site for ‘organdie’ you will find an amazing pattern for saltwater shrimp… Enjoy!

Thank you for reading, I look forward to your next visit!

metiefly – adult damselfly


Since I first watched the ‘Damsels in Distress’ video by Sharptail Productions (see my blogpost ‘catching up!’), I have been contemplating how to tie my own version of an adult damselfly… The blue has to be eye catching, yet the form of the fly must be slim and lifelike – at least the proportions have to work.

Browsing in the bookstore yesterday afternoon, I read a section about sinnets (plaits or braids). I began thinking about how to tie one strand of Krystal Flash just so, in a way that creates the desired effect. I will experiment with twisting another time, for now, allow me to indulge in this evening’s adventure:

1) learn how to tie a Portuguese Sinnet:

Google search to learn the technique

Google search to learn the technique

2) practise on a suitable length of cord:

Once you figure out the rhythm, symmetry is easy to achieve...

Once you figure out the rhythm, symmetry is easy to achieve…

3) practise on a single strand of Krystal Flash – in this case, Pearl Blue

Patience is a virtue... This will definitely help you exercise it!

Patience is a virtue… This will definitely help you exercise it!

4) make sure you have a good approximate size – how big are your local damselfly adults?

Size and shape are key - trout will definitely let you know if you get it wrong

Size and shape are key – trout will definitely let you know if you get it wrong

5) make the fly so it sits in the surface film, keeping a slim profile

I can hardly wait to test this in the spring and summer... More tweaking is necessary to ensure the correct proportions and buoyancy  - there is a fine balance between too much deer hair and not enough

I can hardly wait to test this in the spring and summer… More tweaking is necessary to ensure the correct proportions and buoyancy – there is a fine balance between too much deer hair and not enough

Please let me know your thoughts and if you can help me name it, I’ll gladly post one to the reader who proposes the winning name. Better still, if you can improve the look and feel of the fly using this technique, please share your ideas!

Thank you for reading – please return soon…

…catching up!


Today we attempted to visit a far flung spot that I had marked in my mental mapbook about three Augusts ago. Back then I had been walking with a friend, collecting lost golf balls and enjoying the great outdoors despite being firmly within London’s giant sprawl. Lured by the sound of gurgling water, we chose a path that meandered down into a tightly wooded valley and suddenly we found ourselves alongside a beautiful stream.

As most readers may understand, the instinct to look for fish in likely spots never fades and although the chances were improbable, I peered keenly through the leaves and twigs into a perfect lie behind a large rock. A fallen tree arched across the river onto the rock and the current had gouged a hole about a metre deep. Imagine my joy and disbelief when I saw, neatly contrasted against the pale gravel stream bed, two trout silhouettes lightly sculling in the backwash. We tried to edge closer, to get a proper look… As my friend crept cautiously towards the fallen tree, he slipped awkwardly, hurting an injury he’d been nursing. We prudently decided to call it a day.

This morning the sun shone brightly, glinting off surface water that has flooded every low lying piece of land. Puddles in unusual places bear testament to how high the water table is after all the rainfall earlier this week. My Darling and I tried our best to pick our way through the muddy trail, always keen to explore new places. It was not long before we faced the truth: sometimes it is best to stop before a leisurely stroll becomes an ordeal. We retraced our steps and planned to return in better conditions. The whole of spring and summer lies before us and today it was not meant to be: the stream was in full spate and muddy, scuppering the likelihood of a photo of a gorgeous urban trout.

Returning early gave me a chance to catch up on some of my favourite blogs – what a pleasure to see their inspiring pictures and read through their recent posts. Currentseams and SwittersB both shared some stunning footage that resonates perfectly with one of my recent posts “flying Tigers, hidden dragons”.

I humbly suggest if you have not yet seen this video, invest your next two and a half minutes wisely and click on this link:

http://www.orvis.com/news/fly-fishing/video-damsels-in-distress-on-a-new-zealand-stream/

http://vimeo.com/85147880

Turn up the sound and enjoy the experience…

It is a dream of mine to be able to capture such high quality footage, hopefully on the Zambesi River in order to share some of the stunning memories that I carry with me from my childhood days. Thanks very much to SwittersB and Currentseams for sharing this link and huge congratulations to Simon Perkins, the photographer.

Thank you for reading, I look forward to your next visit.

tying techniques – 7 steps to a perfect weave!


The joy of learning is that it never ends and there are so many ways to take in new information. With the internet, specialist knowledge is now available via all manner of teaching methods. People’s willingness to document and pass on techniques that were previously communicated by word of mouth or through one on one tuition provides an endless source of new ideas.

bright ideas are never far away for improving your tying techniques...

bright ideas are never far away for improving your tying techniques…


When I looked to learn how to weave flies I chanced upon many different approaches. All of them work… Having written a couple of blog entries about the fantastic characteristics of woven bodies, I will now attempt to distill my preferred method into a few simple written instructions:

1) Start off the fly by creating a thread base or a bead and wire core, adding a tail as appropriate, depending on the desired pattern. Variety is limited only by your imagination – so far I have made flies with or without tails, weighted cores, bead heads and even Klinkhamer style dry flies.

2) Tie in two lengths of embroidery thread on opposite sides of the hookshank so that the long ends hang off the back of the hook. I prefer to double back the short ends and wrap them down to add an extra layer of strength and to add some bulk to the width of the body. Colours are optional however I prefer to create two tone flies using a dark shade and a light shade, normally with the lighter shade on the bottom of the fly to mimic natural camouflage. Start with matching lengths of about 25 cm and as you gain experience, you will learn to gauge required lengths for different scenarios.

3) Wrap your tying thread to the front of the fly, whip finish and cut off. The tying thread will be reintroduced later to tie off the completed weave.

4) Twist your vice through 90 degrees so that the eye of the hook points towards you. Take one long end of the embroidery thread in each hand and BELOW the hook cross them over in an overhand knot. To create a two tone pattern, ensure the dark strand passes behind the light strand every time this overhand knot is created. Partially tighten the loop formed by the overhand knot by pulling the threads in opposite directions. Use the hook to separate the intertwined strands so that the dark strand goes over the top of the hook and the light strand passes underneath. Tighten each strand, pulling evenly and firmly on opposite directions on the same horizontal plane as the hook.

5) Repeat the above process, ensuring that the dark strand passes behind the light strand to form the overhand knot and then passes over the top of the hook shank. Each time the knot is tightened, a new segment is formed. Take care to tighten every knot firmly and evenly – inconsistent tension results in a lumpy weave!

6) When the full length of the body has been formed, finish off the weave with a final overhand knot pulled tight UNDERNEATH the hook and then cross over the long ends of the threads ABOVE the hook, allowing them to hang down either side of the hookshank. Secure both strands by clamping them together with hackle pliers, the weight of the pliers provides tension to prevent unravelling. Twist your vice back through 90 degrees to its original position.

7) Reattach your tying thread close to the eye of the hook and wrap twice behind the long ends of the embroidery thread and twice in front of it to secure the embroidery threads. For the last time, pull them tight, then cut off the embroidery threads and complete the final stages of your fly – adding wings, a dubbing collar or a hackle etc.

The symmetrical, clearly segmented pattern of these flies is achieved using the weaving techniques described above.  Have fun creating your own!

The symmetrical, clearly segmented pattern of these flies is achieved using the weaving techniques described above. Have fun creating your own!

As well as looking good, embroidery thread is durable - flies keep their form and remain irresistible fish after fish

As well as looking good, embroidery thread is durable – flies keep their form and remain irresistible fish after fish


Over time I will tweak the above instructions to make them more readable and easier to follow. I welcome all feedback and would love to hear from you if you find this helpful. Likewise please do not hesitate to contact me if you have a better way to explain it in words!

Thank you for reading, please visit again soon.

The ultimate Test – salmon or grayling? part two


Continued from part one…

I made my way upstream to find Jimmy and catch up with his progress… He smiled ear to ear when he heard me describe what I had seen and shortly after that he caught a giant brown trout, larger than the sea trout that I had been unable to net successfully for him earlier. We had no scales however we both agreed it was definitely a double figure fish. This time we made sure of landing it and after a few quickly snapped pictures, we returned it to the now rising waters.

More than 10lbs, this fish is Jimmy's largest brown trout so far - safely returned in perfect condition!

More than 10lbs, this fish is Jimmy’s largest brown trout so far – safely returned in perfect condition!

I witnessed several boisterous upstream runs by giant sized fish, pushing bow waves ahead of them and seemingly oblivious to my presence on the riverbank. I switched back to the fly provided earlier, designed for rapid sinking and bumping along the bottom. It took me four or five casts to acclimatise to the heavy plop and then I started probing the opposite bank, casting slightly upstream and letting the fly work with the current in a slow arc…

Just as my thoughts turned to the effectiveness of this fly’s design, rendering it almost weedless despite having no weed guard, I got stuck on the bottom. Understandable, I suppose, given the pace of the river and the weight of the fly – I raised my rod tip, pulling gently, then harder as I tried to gauge what I was stuck to. Two solid shakes signalled to me that I was actually into a fish, and the fight was on! Mindful of the 6lb breaking strain tippet, I guided the fish towards me and into the current – my 5wt rod traced a perfect hyperbola as my line started to disappear. Having watched videos of sea fishermen handle permit, bonefish, tarpon and GTs, I played the fish off the reel, moving with it as it stayed low and out of sight… Eventually, after more than ten minutes, it showed, not on the surface, but close enough for me to realise this was the biggest fish I had ever had on the end of my line. It was wide and deep, much thicker than my thigh. Just before then, Jimmy had urged me to move the fish in a certain way to gain advantage – when he saw it, everything changed! Now it was a matter of holding on for dear life and working out how to access it – our landing nets were far too small. I said the only option we had was to move towards the end of the beat, into the shallower water where we could handle it and release the fish without bringing it to shore… When we eventually got there, I stepped into the water, eagerly anticipating a good look at this monster fish. The Salmon had different plans. It saw us in the water and changed direction. Far from being tired, it accelerated towards the opposite bank and into the root system of some large trees – when it arrived, it snapped my tippet like gossamer… WOW!

We were fortunate to have the whole river to ourselves - I ran with the giant salmon more than 200 metres downstream in search of shallow water because our landing nets we far too small. When I got there, it reversed, heading across to the deeper water and the trees on the far bank, whereupon it promptly snapped me off.

We were fortunate to have the whole river to ourselves – I ran with the giant salmon more than 200 metres downstream in search of shallow water because our landing nets were far too small. When I got there, it reversed, heading across to the deeper water and the trees on the far bank, whereupon it promptly snapped me off.

Jimmy and I were speechless for a moment, both humbled by what we had just seen… He said “it’s gone!” I said “we would have released it, it is safe now – we released it!” And then we started laughing as we climbed the riverbank, still in awe of the size and power of that fish. When we eventually returned to Jimmy’s rod we had talked ourselves out of an early lunch because the fish were biting too readily and there was a lull in the wind and rain. It was the right decision to carry on, for it was not long before Jimmy’s rod bent double and we watched a silver sea trout treat us to an aerial display. Fresh from the sea, we admired it’s exquisite beauty, took a couple of pictures and returned it. What a day we were having!

Feisty and silver, a freshly run sea trout was the 4th species of Salmonid we caught that day - unbelievable!

Feisty and bright silver, a freshly run sea trout was the 4th species of Salmonid we encountered that day – unbelievable!

After lunch, the rain and wind increased in intensity. Although we continued to catch, floating debris and rising floodwaters provided a different challenge. I played another very large fish for a while, thinking it to be a 10lb salmon, however Jimmy pointed out that it was a huge rainbow trout – as he said the words, it spat out my fly and shot off into the deeper water. I landed a stunning 3.5lb brown trout, similar in size and muscle to my Thames sea trout:

what an honour to catch this beautiful fish - almost identical in size to my Thames sea trout in the summer. Safely returned to the river!

What an honour to catch this beautiful resident brown trout – almost identical in size to my Thames sea trout in the summer. Safely returned to the river!

As the light started to fade, we walked back up to the top end of the beat, returning to where Jimmy had started the day off with such flair. Determined to bring his tally to 15, he made cast after cast into turbulent waters, the little island we had walked across now completely submerged… It was not to be – before it got too dark we saluted the River Test, thanking it for an experience of a lifetime and we packed up for the day. I have still not seen a grayling up close and personal, however I am happy to swap this experience for now – there is always an opportunity for grayling on another adventure!

I took a photo of the memorial plaque on the door of Orvis’s cottage – pausing to reflect how proud Mr Edwards would be, knowing that this landmark venue continues to be lovingly maintained and guarded by its custodians and visitors alike. Long may it last. As I finish this blog entry, I wish to thank Jimmy Boyd for the most incredible fishing experience and for his fantastic companionship throughout the day. It is deeply appreciated.

paying respect to the late Michael Edwards

paying respect to the late Michael Edwards

Thank you for reading and here’s wishing everyone around the world a truly special festive season – Merry Christmas! – metiefly

The Orvis Cottage at the ginger beer beat - Kimbridge, River Test. Thank you for the privilege.

The Orvis Cottage at the ginger beer beat – Kimbridge, River Test. Thank you for the privilege.