Category Archives: Syon park fishery

emerald treasures in the evening


The following pattern is simple and fun for beginners…

* Fine ultra wire – I used chartreuse this time
* Soft feathers – one per fly
* Tying thread – I used 8/0 Uni thread in olive
* Hook – I used a size 14 long shank for damselfly nymph proportions

For the soft feathers:

I picked these up under some trees where the ring necked parakeets spend most of their time...

I picked these up under some trees where the ring necked parakeets spend most of their time…

All you need now is a hook, some chartreuse ultra wire and some olive green tying thread. I complete the process with a dab of superglue on the head. Here’s how it went:

easy does it! take care on the hackles... small feathers call for dexterity and a light touch.

easy does it! take care on the hackles… small feathers call for dexterity and a light touch.

delicate shadows from soft hackles play in the late evening sunlight...

delicate shadows from soft hackles play in the late evening sunlight…

I strive to create symmetry and uniformity even though each one is unique…

Verdant green, yet another nod to the ring necked parakeets... how well will they mimic damsel fly larvae?

Verdant green, yet another nod to the ring necked parakeets… how well will they mimic damsel fly larvae?

The simple, soft hackled wet fly with no tail is often called a spider pattern. Have a go tying your own using feathers collected from the grounds surrounding your favourite lake or stream.

Good luck!

Thank you for reading.

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!

season finale – ending on a top note


The spring in my step as I carried my kit to the car yesterday morning was for several reasons: I had crafted some neat flies in the hope of bringing together all the lessons I’d learned since October. The weather was fresh and Spring was urged on by a sweet cacophony of birdsong. Every season we are privileged to fish brings opportunity to grow and develop our knowledge and understanding – and if we are inclined to, to share this responsibly. Would my latest flies work well enough to reach my quota? The stakes were high as we are rapidly approaching March 31st and I had more fish tickets than I had anticipated at this late stage.

The lake was empty of other anglers when I arrived, and full of fish. A steady southerly breeze was already blowing however bright sunshine created perfect conditions for my pattern. Previously off-coloured water was now crystal clear, allowing the gold bead to draw attention from a distance. Armed with my 7/8 weight rod, I chose the near side bank to cast facing into the wind (I do this often in preparation for sea fishing conditions) and it was not long before I saw a trout rise near the middle.

In my previous post I outlined the key attributes of my latest fly design. Added weight and a slim profile helps long distance casting significantly. Extra momentum helps extend the tippet to its full length on a decent cast. Using the wind to drift my final shoot of line, my fly dropped into the zone – my senses on high alert as I began a slow figure of eight retrieve… Only a couple of seconds passed before I felt a telltale knock – an almost imperceptible bump on the end of my line! I paused for three seconds, glad I had resisted the instinct to strike, then increased the speed of my retrieve – the bite was strong and I was fighting my first fish of the day within minutes of arriving.

perfect rainbow in crystal waters - sincere gratitude to the custodians of Syon Park and Albury Estates

Yet another perfect rainbow in crystal waters – sincere gratitude to the custodians of Syon Park and Albury Estates

3lbs of power - these are hard fighting fish especially when the water is cold!

This time 3lbs of power – these are hard fighting fish especially when the water is cold!

Each fish was unique and exciting to catch – in rapid succession I had confirmed beyond any measure of doubt that last night’s pattern is highly effective. Equally important in my book is hardiness – the ability to catch multiple fish and retain its form. Here it is after fish number seven:

Still together after fish no. 7 - sturdy and effective design is what I strive for and this pattern definitely delivers.

Still together after fish no. 7 – sturdy and effective design is what I strive for and this pattern definitely delivers.

My previous record number of trout on the same fly is eight. I matched that yesterday and whilst aiming for number nine, I lost the fly on a poorly timed back cast! Glad I had made more than one, I tied on another in an attempt to use my last fish ticket of the season.

Whilst I had been enjoying non stop action all morning, I watched as a father and son took their first fly fishing lesson with highly respected AAPGAI instructor Robin Elwes of Farlows. Now they made their way over to fish nearby and I greeted them as they walked past. Soon after I had tied on my new fly, I landed my final fish of the season. Immediately, I cut my fly off the tippet and made my way to the gentlemen along the bank… Greeting them, I asked Robin to please use my fly on the young man’s rod – I introduced myself to Oscar, shook his hand and suggested for them to rather use my spot as I was finished for the day.

Just imagine my joy as whilst I packed up, I watched Oscar catch his first trout ever, his Dad bursting with pride and dutifully capturing the moment on camera.

magic moment - I wish Oscar and his Dad  a lifetime of safe and exciting fly fishing adventures together

magic moment – I wish Oscar and his Dad a lifetime of safe and exciting fly fishing adventures together

I bid them farewell and made my way home. As I drove, I slowed down to watch from a distance as Robin hurried to grab the landing net for Oscar’s second fish… Words cannot express how happy I am for him and I wish him and all new fly fishers around the world tight lines and a lifetime of adventures. May we all protect and serve the Great Outdoors together.

To honour my Dad’s Birthday tomorrow, I hereby name this pattern the “metiefly damsel” and I have added it to my design page due to it’s proven success.

three of the finest - coarse deer hair tips and a striking colour combination. In the morning of 22 March I caught eight fish on the middle fly in this picture then lost the fly on a bad back cast. I tied on a replacement, caught a ninth and final fish to end my season... What happened next was even better than I could have dreamt: a young man caught his first two trout ever on it - hopefully the beginnings of endless adventures for him and his Dad!

three of the finest – coarse deer hair tips and a striking colour combination. In the morning of 22 March I caught eight fish on the middle fly in this picture then lost the fly on a bad back cast. I tied on a replacement, caught a ninth and final fish to end my season… What happened next was even better than I could have dreamt: a young man caught his first two trout ever on it – hopefully the beginnings of endless adventures for him and his Dad!

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

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!

deer hair parachutes


Huge respect to Mr Barry Ord Clarke – thefeatherbender – a masterful professional who has more than accomplished the mission statement of his blog:

“THEFEATHERBENDER The aim of this blog is to connect fly-tyers all over the world, to share, techniques, patterns, information and knowledge.”

I follow many incredible online sources of inspiration and this one is right up there amongst my favourites. I strongly suggest clicking on Barry’s link in “blogs I follow” on the bottom right of this page.

Tonight I improvised slightly, exploring an ingenious deer hair parachute technique in my ongoing search for my ideal adult damsel fly pattern. The Fender Parachute fly is as slick as it is effective and I believe I am almost at the stage where I can bring all the components together. As I did not have any moose mane fibres in my kit, I used some elk hair fibres to produce my first attempts. Bug bond is another ingredient I do not have (yet!) so I used some liquid fusion superglue instead.

thank you Mr Clarke - these variants are close approximations of the Fender Parachute... I hope the technique transfers well to my adult damselfly pattern next weekend!

thank you Mr Clarke – these variants are close approximations of the Fender Parachute… I hope the technique transfers well to my adult damselfly pattern next weekend!

Next weekend I plan to tie a couple of metiefly adult damselfly patterns using this technique. What will my local rainbows make of them when the temperature rises? Only time will tell…

A drop of liquid fusion will keep the parachute open... Less is more on tiny flies.

A drop of liquid fusion will keep the parachute open… Less is more on tiny flies.

I used tiemco size 13 fine wire dry fly hooks in this prototype for maximum buoyancy

I used tiemco size 13 fine wire dry fly hooks in this prototype for maximum buoyancy


Thank you for reading – 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…