Tag Archives: Quality lifestyle

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.

nature really is our best friend – bees and flowers in the city


When I wrote my first blogpost (appreciation and sharing) I wrote the following:

“Conservation and appreciation of Nature is the primary focus of my blog – sustainable use of the outdoors with a view to unearth and hopefully master long forgotten traditions, celebrating experiences and, through teaching others, paving the way for new pathways into the future.”

It seems fitting to post something that brings all these elements to the fore amongst the hustle and bustle of London’s Sloane Square. I salute people who think in terms of flower superhighways and who take the trouble to hand out seeds that will help build them…

respect to J. Crew for taking the initiative and building walls of flowering plants on their Sloane Square outlet... If you are in London, go and get some of their seeds and plant them this summer...

respect to J. Crew for taking the initiative and building walls of flowering plants on their Sloane Square outlet… If you are in London, go and get some of their seeds and plant them this summer… Photo – worklondonstyle http://worklondonstyle.com

I thank my Darling Wife for her infinite patience and support of metiefly over the last 15 months. As we sip our Twinings English Breakfast, I wish to share a strong message on behalf of fauna and flora all over the world… Thank you J.Crew for this fabulous project!

a picture tells a thousand words... What can you do to make your own little corner of the universe a better place for all living things?

a picture tells a thousand words… what can you do to make your own little corner of the universe a better place for all living things?

Lastly, on my 100th blogpost, I wish thank you, my plethora of very special readers for joining me in my little adventure… I look forward to your next visit.

27 July update... Fantastic to see the flowers opening, just in time to help the bees through the late stages of summer and into autumn. Please share your results if you also grew some this year!

27 July update… Fantastic to see the flowers opening, just in time to help the bees through the late stages of summer and into autumn. Please share your results if you also grew some this year!

August update - a picture tells a thousand words!

August update – a picture tells a thousand words!

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!

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!

JLM Special makeover – back to Abaco?


Constructive feedback is a wonderful inspirer. Esteemed fellow blogger and author of a stunning Bird book, RH (of rollingharbour.com) painstakingly limited his catch rate on my behalf during his last sojourn in the Abaco Marls. Persisting long after his wiser companions abandoned the JLM Special in favour of their tried and tested stalwarts, RH very kindly gathered all the empirical evidence he needed to tell me the following:

These flies don’t work in Abaco! Not even by accident! (These are my own words – RH is far more generous and polite :-))

RH went on to provide constructive insights to help me refine my approach:

“Basically, much too dark for the waters of Abaco, too bushy, no streamer tail, no sparkle.”

My first creative reaction is to take care of the colour tones…

Prototype1 - this albino variant is made by combining arctic fox tail with ginger (yes ginger!) elk hair and white embroidery thread. To give it some colour and fine movement, I used blonde hare fur tips. For the telson, a sliver of red wool . Photo - metiefly

Prototype1 – this albino variant is made by combining arctic fox tail with ginger (yes ginger!) elk hair and white embroidery thread. To give it some colour and fine movement, I used blonde hare fur tips. For the telson, a sliver of red wool . Photo – metiefly

The streamer tail and addressing the bushy profile is a matter of correcting proportions:

Longer and fewer arctic fox fibres , a whiff of red in the main body - each iteration is a little step closer to the end goal!

Longer and fewer arctic fox fibres , a whiff of red in the main body – each iteration is a little step closer to the end goal! Photo – metiefly

I have no idea what the final design will look like – in the meantime, I thoroughly enjoyed myself in the ongoing pursuit of what Abaco’s bonefish consider a tasty morsel.

Ready for postage... Thanks again to RH for his great attitude and collaboration...

Ready for postage… Much appreciation to RH for his patience, great attitude and collaborative spirit. Photo – metiefly

Thank you for visiting – I look forward to your return.

Fishing in Holland Park… Naturally!


I had occasion to visit one of my favourite haunts today, grateful for the opportunity to charge my batteries in bright sunshine and (albeit in the middle of the city) surrounded by Nature.

I had my iPad with me, ready to take the odd snap if the right moment arose…

The quizzical look on the drake's face begs for a comedic caption!

The quizzical look on the drake’s face begs for a comedic caption! Photo – metiefly

I strolled on a bit

A closer look will reveal some tiny blue spring flowers... Details, details!

A closer look will reveal some tiny blue spring flowers… Details, details! Photo – metiefly

These creatures always take my breath away…

I have a fly tyer's appreciation of this exquisite beauty. Form and function, together with unsurpassed aesthetics...

I have a fly tyer’s appreciation of this exquisite beauty. Form and function, together with unsurpassed aesthetics… Photo – metiefly

What happened next was quite remarkable. I was humbled to bear witness to the rawness of Nature at it’s cutting edge:

I was pleased to get this delicate pose from the heron... Little did I know what was about to unfold :-)

I was pleased to get this delicate pose from the heron… Little did I know what was about to unfold 🙂 photo – metiefly

What a strike of luck - fortunate timing! I love the structure of this amazing bird's wings. It had something else in mind...

What a strike of luck – fortunate timing! I love the structure of this amazing bird’s wings. It had something else in mind… photo – metiefly

Still gazing...

Still gazing… Photo – metiefly

Look at the focused intent in it's expression!

Look at the focused intent in it’s expression! Photo – metiefly

Entering stealth mode... In my mind I'm thinking: (Bet he wishes the fish were smaller...'

Entering stealth mode… In my mind I’m thinking: ‘Bet he wishes the fish were smaller…’ Photo – metiefly

What's that over there...?

What’s that over there…? Photo – metiefly

This is going to be like taking sweets from a little child... In front of everyone!

This is going to be like taking sweets from a little child… In front of everyone! Photo – metiefly

I could not believe the opportunity I was being given! Time stood still at this point... Was the aim correct?!

I could not believe the opportunity I was being given! Time stood still at this point… Was the aim correct?! Photo – metiefly

This is a picture of a frustrated, humiliated and very embarrassed heron!

This is a picture of a frustrated, humiliated and very embarrassed heron! Photo – metiefly

He's thinking: "Do you think anyone saw me?"

He’s thinking: “Do you think anyone saw me?” Photo – metiefly

Still embarrassed - moving the crowd along! I'm fascinated by the oil slick left behind on the surface of the water... Did not realise how much oil or wax is on a heron's feathers. No animals were harmed in the making of this series ;-)

Still embarrassed – moving the crowd along! I’m fascinated by the oil slick left behind on the surface of the water… Did not realise how much oil or wax is on a heron’s feathers. No animals were harmed in the making of this series 😉 photo – metiefly

I hope you had a chance to get outside today – tomorrow is another gift… Make the most of it in the Great Outdoors if at all possible!

Thank you for your visit as always…

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.

…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.

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.

The ultimate Test – salmon instead of grayling? part one


Hallowed grounds - I heard this described as one of fly fishing's sacred places...

Hallowed grounds – I heard this described as one of fly fishing’s sacred places…

The knowledge I gained through personal experience yesterday is beyond normal measurable value: no amount of preparation, research and optimistic dreaming could predict what unfolded on the famous ginger beer beat… the first cast of the day produced a spritely rainbow for my host and after his third fish in less than fifteen minutes, I graciously accepted his offer of an identical fly… Two casts later I caught and released a beautiful brownie – fit as a fiddle and exquisite to look at in close up. A few more casts with my host’s fly, then we moved on and I switched to a size 16 gold head deer hair nymph – eager to conjure up my first ever grayling take. No bites!

First cast of the day - a spritely rainbow of about 2lbs... Jimmy went on to catch and release 14 fish despite horizontal raindrops and 22mph winds! The island in the foreground was completely submerged when we returned in the evening and all the rainfall in the test valley caught up with us.

First cast of the day – a spritely rainbow of about 2lbs… This would prove to be the smallest: Jimmy went on to catch and release 14 fish despite horizontal raindrops and 22mph winds! The island in the foreground was completely submerged when we returned in the evening and all the rainfall in the test valley caught up with us.

Salmo trutta in pristine condition - well done Mr B!

Salmo trutta in pristine condition – well done Mr B!

my first fish of the Test...

my first fish of the Test…

Fish moved in a way that I have not seen in a wild river…  Chalkstream waters renowned worldwide for their clarity seemed to magnify size and multiply numbers… Could they really be this big?

When we lost count of how many my fishing partner had landed (dare I mention his double figure sea trout that was too large for the net – freeing itself before we could come up with a suitable plan?), we took a stroll to the end of the beat so I could explore the whole territory and absorb one of fly fishing’s most sacred places…

I saw no grayling in the likely spots despite half an hour of drifting my tiny fly through riffles and channels, wondering what the grayling take would feel like. Suddenly my education ramped up a notch: I could only gawk as the “sandbar” that I had been using as a reference point in the middle of the river repositioned itself like a feeding trout does every now and then. My mouth dried and my pulse thumped – this shadow was the size of my leg. Memories of my ‘giant'(1.1kg) rainbow trout from the headwaters of the Nyangombe River flooded back to me: Back then, after an hour of trying every pattern I had, I eventually caught it on a diminutive ‘Bruce’s Bug’ tied by my friend Gareth… My reverie was broken by lactic acid burning in my casting shoulder, suggesting that I had drifted my fly past this leviathan enough times to prove that it was not going to happen soon!

I could not believe the size of the fish I saw slightly upstream of this picture... It only registered as a fish in my brain when the "sandbar"moved like a feeding fish.

I could not believe the size of the fish I saw slightly upstream of this picture… It only registered as a fish in my brain when the “sandbar”moved like a feeding fish.

Thank you for reading – the story continues in part two…