Tag Archives: flytying

99 blogposts – not out!


For my 99th blog entry I feel honoured to share this video.

It is not my work.

It definitely echoes my sentiments – great work by its creators.

Enjoy it and thanks again for visiting my site

I look forward to your return!

lessons from history – Walker’s Killer pattern


I understand I’m getting older when what was once considered current affairs is now taught in the form of history lessons!

I met my first Onchorhynchus mykiss on Mare Dam in the Rhodes Nyanga National Park. In the words of my beloved Granddad, I stood “knee high to a grasshopper” at the time. Magical fly fishing holidays now flit amongst my neurons in the form of spectacular memories and deep seated core knowledge… No box is a fly box if it does not contain Walker’s Killers. Some of the finest fishermen in the land would carry only this pattern, save for a dry fly or two in case of an evening rise. They had good reason too!

Attributed to Mr. Lionel Walker, the Walker’s Killer consists of a tail of black dyed squirrel tail fibres, a red chenille body and several paired sets of double sided wings. Literature mentions up to eighteen striped partridge feathers per fly tied opposite so as to present a slim, almost flat profile. This allows for streamlined casting and straight swimming once submerged.

Trout guzzle this fly when conditions are perfect, when conditions are awful, and wherever conditions may fall in the whole spectrum inbetween!

In London most of the people I have spoken to about this pattern are unaware of it. Time for one of the most wonderful blasts from the past:

There was a time when this fly needed no introduction!

There was a time when this fly needed no introduction!

Beautiful construction - if one parts the wings a body of scarlet chenille is revealed.

Beautiful construction – if one parts the wings a body of scarlet chenille is revealed.

The slim profile allows it to cut through the air during casts and to swim straight as an arrow underwater.

The slim profile allows it to cut through the air during casts and to swim straight as an arrow underwater.

Please drop me a comment if this fly stirs up great memories, or even if it piques your anger - the pattern was so successful that some traditionalists even considered it to be cheating!

Please drop me a comment if this fly stirs up great memories, or even if it piques your anger – the pattern was so successful that some traditionalists even considered it to be cheating!

This fly happens to be my only one, still treasured after I discovered the hook had snapped off during one of my early adventures many decades ago. I strive to learn how to tie such neat and robust flies… This one is my motivator because it still looks good after more than thirty years!

I look forward to teaching myself to tie this pattern… Thank you for reading as always.

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.

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.

preparing for grayling


I am almost bursting with excitement at the prospect of visiting some of fly fishing’s most hallowed waters. Regardless of the weather, on Saturday I will be up well before dawn and en route to fish for grayling on the famous River Test.

Although there is no telling what may bite my flies on the day, our main quarry will be grayling and I need to create some flies for the occasion. Gathering advice from some of my veteran flyfishing friends, I received one reply only two words long: SMALL FLIES

Chuckling to myself, I set about researching tried and tested patterns on the Internet. Various nymph patterns, freshwater shrimps and small Klinkhammers – that is what I shall be tying tonight.

Size 16 barbless hooks
Olive hackle
White Antron post
Two shades of olive embroidery thread
Peacock herl

No pictures yet as I haven’t made them yet – fingers crossed they come out well!

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

winging it


I spent time this weekend practising my techniques for tying matching wings… Whenever I see a perfectly symmetrical, well proportioned pair of wings on a fly, I understand the effort put into mastering the tying method used to deliver such a result.

green machine - what will the sea trout make of this next season?

green machine – what will the sea trout make of this next season?

Matching slips must be cut from opposite halves of a symmetrical feather, then they must be perfectly aligned above the hook and bound in such a way that they flare symmetrically, or kiss together above the shank of the hook. It is tricky to achieve and, as I have discovered, even more of a challenge when downsizing to small flies.

This tail feather from an adorable ring - necked parakeet is ideal for snipping off matching wing components for small flies. Similar properties are found in pheasant tail feathers and any bi-laterally symmetrical feather.

This tail feather from an adorable ring – necked parakeet is ideal for snipping off matching wing components for small flies. Similar properties are found in pheasant tail feathers and any bi-laterally symmetrical feather.

For matching wings, I find it best to use a pinched loop pulled straight down over the carefully placed pair of wings… Tighten the wrap firmly whilst maintaining the position of the wings – avoid being timid as tightening too slowly often results in the wing fibres being pulled out of alignment.

I tried to create matching tails and matching wings... These are tied on size 16 barbless hooks .

I tried to create matching tails and matching wings… These are tied on size 16 barbless hooks .

For upwinged style flies, tie in the matching wings facing forward over the eye of the hook then fold them back and wrap them with a couple of neat, evenly tensioned figure of eight loops… Practice makes perfect!

upwinged style - I tied these for my winter season debut at the start of October

upwinged style – I tied these for my winter season debut at the start of October

Different materials can be used for tails, depending on the occasion. In this instance, I am grateful to Mitchi for discarding two elegantly proportioned whiskers! We make a great team – she loves eating part of the proceeds every time I bring a trout home from the lake.

natural is often simple... and a rather tricky  look to achieve!

natural is often simple… and on a size 16 hook, a rather tricky look to achieve!

I look forward to many hours of practise to improve my winged techniques – hopefully in time for next year’s mayflies at the start of summer.

Thanks for reading, see you again soon!

sea bass in Cornwall


A picture tells a thousand words… Today my gorgeous wife and I woke up at 05h30 and we drove to Penzance and then St.Ives. It took us just over 5 hours to reach our destination and perfect weather smiled on us throughout – do you agree with me that is this what Teddington’s robins had in mind when they sang in the change of seasons back in March?

 Today we spent more than ten hours in the car for six hours of this: low tide, clear water, no wind... what a joyous discovery we made!

Today we spent more than ten hours in the car for six hours of this: low tide, clear water, no wind… what a joyous discovery we made! (photo – metiefly)

Imagine hopping in the little rowing boat with your favourite rod and a handful of specially tied streamers for sea bass. It's only a matter of time before I make this happen...

Imagine hopping in the little rowing boat with your favourite rod and a handful of specially tied streamers for sea bass. It’s only a matter of time before I make this happen… (photo – metiefly)

Taking in the excitement of future plans at St.Ives... What a day!

Taking in the excitement of future plans at St.Ives… What a day! (photo – metiefly)

Thank you for reading, please come back soon!