Category Archives: Permit flies

all aboard for Abaco!


This little pocket of flies is destined for the Bahamas… What stories will they conjure up in time?

Rolling Harbour, Abaco... All will be revealed in time!

Rolling Harbour, Abaco… All will be revealed in time!


Thanks in advance to RH – I will keep everyone posted in due course!

Looking forward to some beautiful pictures of Bonefish…

Thank you for reading, please visit again soon.

flying tigers, hidden dragons… this time in Africa!


I have several times expressed my immense joy in designing a new fly in pattern in my mind, bringing it to life on the vice and then testing it’s effectiveness… Last year I generated many happy memories indoors and outdoors. Along the way I produced a couple of real winners. The “failures” or the “partial flops” were an added bonus for my casting prowess as there is no substitute for uninterrupted casting in real life situations to really hone one’s skills. In this way, I put in serious training on the banks of the Thames at low tide.

In 2014, one of my many experiments will be to come up with a suitable fly to cater for Southern Africa’s flying tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus) that recently took centre stage in social and print media, all the way from Mapungubwe National Park.

Search for James Fenner's excellent article about this incredible phenomenon - or catch the footage on you tube. photo - James Fenner

Search for James Fenner’s excellent article about this incredible phenomenon – or catch the footage on you tube. photo – James Fenner


Pioneering fly fishermen are uniquely advantaged when it comes to the final frontier… the very nature of fly casting might unlock what could be perhaps the most ambitious of all piscatorial attempts so far: false casting a large, dark fly inches above the surface could take dry fly fishing up a level, literally and metaphorically. There is no telling how valuable the first beautifully shot, high definition video footage of such an impossible task would be – especially if placed in the hands of the right international marketing team.

The race is on – who is going to win this challenge?! Please share this link and drop me a comment if you want to participate.

Thank you for reading – see you again soon.

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.

staying connected!


Knots are a very personal thing. Some people stick to tying one knot for their entire lifetime, others chop and change depending on circumstances and types of tackle used. Personally, I use about six or seven different knots which cater for all the various connections I need to make.

One to join backing to the reel
One to join fly line to backing
One to join leader to fly line
One to join different thicknesses of monofilament
One to join two similar thicknesses of monofilament
One to join hook or lure to tippet with a loop
One to join hook or lure to tippet without a loop

The video is not ideal (will re-film one soon) however it will give you a chance to practise this knot before the weekend.

Same knot, different perspective. When tightening, moisten, then pull steadily on the long piece of line until you feel the knot click into place.

If you take a kid fishing, this will be a great one to share with them!

Thank you for reading – please come back soon.

fish out of water


Thriving ecosystems are characterised by a plenitude of signs, tracks and evidence of hard fought battles of wits, stealth and cunning as different species clash in the never ending dynamic of survival of the fittest.

Yesterday whilst walking, we crossed the bridge over the Duke of Northumberland’s river in Isleworth and my wife stopped suddenly – as if by magic, six little fish were neatly arranged on the pavement, still moist and upon closer inspection, slightly digested by the stomach acid of a predatory bird. As we took pictures and tried to work out how they got there, on top of the side wall of the bridge, we noticed an even rarer surprise! A tiny specimen of a Thames flatfish had been regurgitated yet, because of its shape, it had not rolled off the wall onto the pavement below. I have no idea if the predator had been a heron, a cormorant, a grebe or even possibly a kingfisher – whilst trying to solve the riddle, it struck me how extremely fortunate we are to have such abundant biodiversity in our waterways that run through the heart of this immense city. Many species of birds and fish have been here for aeons and despite our ever encroaching threat, they still carve out their existence alongside us.

I feel privileged to share this message – enjoy the pictures:

six little minnows - I'd love to know how they got there... Did a cormorant, or a heron get a fright and cough them up? Was it a kingfisher or a grebe that had eaten too much? Leave a comment if you think you know the answer

six little minnows – I’d love to know how they got there… Did a cormorant, or a heron get a fright and cough them up? Was it a kingfisher or a grebe that had eaten too much? Leave a comment if you think you know the answer

I'm not an Icthyologist, I'm an Icthyologist's son... Please tell me if this is a baby flounder, plaice or sole?

I’m not an Ichthyologist, I’m an Ichthyologist’s son… Please tell me if this is a baby flounder, plaice or sole?

Wherever you are in the world, contemplate how you can increase awareness. Can you make further little adjustments (or big ones) to your lifestyle to live in better harmony with your surroundings? The more we look after Nature, the more it will look after us!

Thank you for reading – please visit again soon.

once you pop, you can’t stop… so true!


If you are yet to enjoy the experience of water exploding under your very own popper, you need to fix this condition FAST! I wrote to my Dad recently, reminiscing about some fun we had when I was small… the memories of those magical sunsets punctuated by massive splashes still make my pulse race.

Modern materials and clever merchandising mean you can make your own poppers and customise their colours to your heart’s content. I bought a little kit with ten popper bodies and ten matching hooks a while ago – last night was the perfect time to make some. These ones are plain, built with surf fishing in mind – probably inspired by the video I re-blogged from ‘feathers and fluoro’… A Giant Trevally is definitely a species to get my attention! In this case though, I’ll settle for a humble sea bass off the south coast of England.

There is not much to it, however it is best to try and get the proportions right for the popper to swim easily and to create a realistic silhouette. The idea is to be able to cast it far and for it to push enough water to attract attention from deeper water.

Here’s my version – simple yet (hopefully!) highly effective:

when conditions are right there is no more exciting way to catch fish on the surface - these lightweight hard foam bodies are  perfect.

when conditions are right there are few more exciting ways to catch fish on the surface – these lightweight hard foam bodies are perfect.

I also look forward to seeing what is the first species to bite this in the Thames… Will it be a perch, a trout or a pike?

Thank you for reading, please visit again soon!

reiteration


Practice makes perfect…

I am fascinated by the learning process in general and even more so by how my own brain takes things in. Tying flies of a similar pattern forces me to practise repeated sequences of activity and I love developing skills one layer at a time. This second fly came out better than the first and it took less than half the time compared to the first one. A few more tomorrow and I’m sure the recipe will stick…

Each fly is unique by virtue of how they are made... Use each opportunity to aim for perfection and the extra care you put in will yield massive results.

Every fly is unique by virtue of how they are made… Use each opportunity to aim for perfection and the extra care you put in will yield massive results.

If you are a newcomer to the vice remember that regardless of how complicated it looks, each fly is built one wrap at a time. Keep practising and look for perfection always – this will translate into how you approach your fishing and it will multiply exponentially the satisfaction you feel whenever you catch a fish with one of your own creations.

Keep on tying, keep on having fun!

Thank you for reading, please visit again soon.