Coarse on the Fly

Yes I know – we have been down this road before, and to some of you Carp lads who are quite satisfied to sit there and try for the largest fish in the water, OK if that’s what you are suited to then go for  it.  My aim is for those of us who can “generalise”, by that I mean we  do not concentrate on one type of fish.  As I have said many many times before most, if not all fish will rise to the fly, so if you are having a ‘bad day at the office’ and not even the odd Roach or Perch is taking the maggots you are relentlessly drowning, why not try reaching for a fly rod.  I must admit that if you target fish is the Pike I suggest that you use something a tad heavier than those used for trout, but not quite salmon equipment.  Recently there are more and more people fly fishing for the Pike, and there are even associations dedicated to the art of this branch of the sport.  One of the fish the Americans chase with the fly rod is the Crappie (I think I have spelt that right) a Perch like fish they use to put in the pan, Bass of course is another, they have several members of this family, Small Mouth, Large Mouth and Fresh Water, as well as the Salt Water version.  The fresh water ones fall under the banner of Warm Water Fish.  Another fish that can give  you some sport on the fly is the Carp, A fly tied with spun Deer Hair and trimmed to look like a flake of dog biscuit is ideal.

All I am saying is there is more than one way to skin a cat, and fly gear has one advantage over coarse and that is there is less of it and it’s lighter, so no excuse not to add a fly rod to your rod bag.  As I have said before, if it’s casting you are having problems with “I know a man…………………” and as for tying flies look no further than me.  I rest my case (yest again).  So, enjoy yourselves and tight lines to you ALL.

Ni the Fly


A Dozen Dubbing Techniques

The title above refers to the most recent publication by Al and Gretchen Beatty, a couple of well known American Fly Fishers and Fly Dressers who I have the honour of referring to as the “Best Friends I have never met”.  Have a read and see what you think and most of all I recommend that you do as I advise in the last paragraph and “Go to Amazon”.


A Dozen Dubbing Techniques


Al & Gretchen Beatty


I have just finished reading the above publication, and it is one of their excellent easy to follow reads that I would recommend to any Fly Dresser, whatever level he or she is at, be it a novice or a died in the wool old timer like me.  Nowhere has the saying about “old dogs and new tricks” been turned on its head like it has on numerous occasions in the Fly Dressing world, and here Al and Gretchen have done just that.  You will come across numerous pages where you can mutter to yourself “well I knew that” but there will be one or two (to say the least) occasions when something so obvious brings you up short and you think “well why didn’t I think of that”.

There are other ‘short’ books which are equally easy to follow, “LaFontaines Legacy” Published, I believe, shortly after the great Gary died.  “Wonder Wings”.  “EZY Trout Flies” and many more all written and published by Al and Gretchen.  Believe me this pair of Fly Fishers/Dressers know exactly what they are talking about, I dare not say how long they been involved in this sport, Gretchen would take her revenge one way or another.  The only thing I have left to say is if you wish to learn to tie flies then go into Amazon “Books” and type in their name, I guarantee you will not regret it.

Ni the Fly

(A member of the “Fly Dressers Guild” and hold their Silver Award, and a Member of the Fly Tiers Section of the FFI).








We Will Try Again

I will start out by explaining the title of this entry – yesterday I ‘wrote’ a whole page and then hit the wrong ‘button’ and cancelled everything.  So here goes.

As you will have noted from my FB entries the Club is up and running again, with a great deal of gratitude going to Graham, for not only holding the Club together but doing so solo and also whilst holding down a full-time job.  Many thanks Sir.   Thanks must also go to our Webmaster – Nige – for  maintaining our website and transferring it to another host company.   Cheers my friend.  We now have a reduced number of waters, something that has not gone down too well with some of our Members, but we were running close to one water for every 4 or 5 Members, a situation that could not be financially viable.  This has now left us short of a river/stream which brings me onto the next suggestion.  We all have a responsibility to the Club so if there are any of you who have youngsters (off springs or relatives near or far) who are interested in angling in any form please get them into the Club.

My next suggestion is one I have made many times before – there is now an ever-increasing following in taking coarse fish on the fly.  Our predecessors back into the Middle Ages and before used the fly to catch fish for the table, we only do it for the sport, Pike Carp, Chub in fact most coarse fish will rise to the fly.  The rods were a lot longer and hense a lot heavier.   Think of it this way – just carry an extra rod and reel, some flies and that day on the Mere when you have tried everything you know and you are heading for the usual BLANK, try the fly rod – you never know, and believe me Carp on the fly can give you a great deal of sport.  Apart from being a recognised Fly Dressing Tutor with the Fly Dressers Guild, I also have amongst my friends GAIA qualified casting Instructors.  Try it you never know, heaven forbid, you may even like it.

Enough for now, take care, tight lines and above all – enjoy yourselves.

Ni the Fly

October 31st 2017

After a great deal of messing around, like a week in the repair shop for our computer only to find that it had a cracked screen and had to go back for a further week, and to find that when we did get it back we (or rather they) had lost all my work on the Hard Drive, I think I have found my Blog, and now hopefully a way of adding to it.

No news is good news – so they say – but in this case that cannot be so, since my last entry the only thing I have to report is that I have attended one of Bernies “open days” at Clay Lane Fishery.  This went well with one or two enquiries about fly dressing, at my bench, and Bernie had a reasonable attendance for his Casting School.  Due to ill heath (I’ll shoot that sod one day) I was unable to attend his last meeting, but hopefully we should be able to get one more in before the end of the year, if you are interested in either improving your single handed fly rod casting skills or maybe your fly tying skills then keep an eye on face book, I am sure Bernie will be posting the dates, if not then you can always e-mail me at

The remainder of my news is of no interest to any of our fly fishing readers, unless you need the name of a good electrician, small unit and fitted wardrobe maker, or a general handyman who is also good at fitting French Doors, needless to say we are  in the middle of a “update” on our house.  Well that’s it for the time being, as soon as something newsworthy occurs I will put ‘pen to paper’ again.  Stay safe, take care and happy fishing (fly or coarse – they both hold equal importance in the sport).

The Latest Snippets

This is going to be a very short one, (stop cheering at the back), as well as trying to help a fellow Member of the Guild to attain Silver, hopefully on Wednesday next the “Three Stooges” are going to try and do some Fishing – weather permitting, hopefully saying that has not put the knockers on that, but then again human skin IS waterproof, so a shower or two should not make any difference.  I am undecided whether to take the Loop, or my Sage, but the one rod both Bernie and myself want to play with is my recently (well a couple of months ago) aquired Airflo Rocket, 11 foot #7, untried, which is a Switch rod.  In practice it is a single handed trout rod with the capability of being used as a double handed rod if required.  The two rods that Airflo produce under the title of “Switch” are the 11 foot #7 which is rated for Trout and Sea Trout, and a slightly heavier one at 11 foot #8 which they say should be used for Sea Trout and Salmon.  We shall see.

The other piece of news (blow my own trumpet why don’t I ?) is that at the last meeting of the North West Branch of the Fly Dressers Guild it was announced that I have been appointed as an Instructor and Assessor up to and including the Silver Award.  So anyone needing a hand or advise please get in touch, you can do so by adding a comment on here or through e-mail.  If I can help at all I will and if I can’t (you know the saying) I know a man or lady who can.

Tight threads, and remember the Guild meets on the third Tuesday of the Month at the Timperly Sport Club, come along and meet like minded folk, but most of all take care and enjoy yourselves.

Clay Lane Farm Fishery – Sunday 2nd July 2017

Well, I never expected to be writing again this soon.  Shortly after my last entry, friend Bernie rang to ask if I would accompany him on an open day to the fishery which he uses for some of his tuition classes in the gentle art of fly casting.  The answer was obvious, YES.  I put together some materials, hooks and so on and my recently modified “travel vise” which consists of a Norvise and Post, attached to a suitable piece of ‘timber’.  I am now well and truly “hooked” on this vise and its’ accompanying tools.  On this occasion my intention was to concentrate on the easier patterns such as the North Country Spider range (if it aint broke don’t fix it) which has been around in one shape or form since the days of the Roman empire and probably earlier, and tying a couple of the Rev. Powel’s favourites, such as the Orange Otter, Ermine Moth and so on.  In my opinion there is a need to keep the older patterns alive, many of them still work well despite some of the modern designs on the market.  Mind you I and one two others of a like mind have had to ‘resort’ to using more modern materials, the body of the Orange Otter for instance was originally formed from the white fur of the under chin and chest of the Otter which was then dyed by using, amongst other things, picric acid – a rather “touchy” substance which can under certain circumstances make rather a loud bang, obviously not sold over the counter these days.  What I and Louis Noble use is a mix of one third red to two thirds orange seal fur, not the easiest of things to dub but with a little practice does the job.

We got to the Fishery at about 0900 hrs, with the intention of a 1000 hrs start, running through until 1400 hrs giving us a four hour (state the obvious) window, enough in our opinion to keep people interested and not bored out their boots.  The day was reasonably well attended and all went well, Bernie had at least one with “Blacksmith Syndrome”, an arm so strong it could flex a broom handle, which of course does not go down well with a fly rod, but you try telling a life long carp fisher that all he has to do is ‘let the rod do the work’  – it ain’t easy.  I on the other hand had no difficulty whatsoever, Bernie and the other GAIA Instructors who came along, occasionally, gave their students a rest break, at which time they came to the hut where I had set up, and brewed up, (for me as well as themselves).  There were one or two queries as to why I used a thin, almost watery head cement, my reply was that it was because it soaked in, obviously this required more than one coat and was time consuming but in the long run made for a more resilient head.  There was also a surprising number who were unaware that a half hitch tool could be used to tie off with, or who were unable to use a whip finish tool.  One was also insistent that I show him the whip finish by hand, this apparently was a success since I received a text message later that day saying that after some practice he had mastered the ‘art’.  This, of course, is the basis of fly tying – PRACTICE – and keep on practising.

The other thing that we both put across was the Fly Dressers Guild, of which we are both members.  The North West branch of the Fly Dressers Guild meets on the third Tuesday of the month at the Timperly Sports Club starting at 2000 hrs and normally we wind up the meet at about 2200 hrs.  The next meet will be on the 18th of this month when Bernie will be showing off his skills, casting on the grass, and since the Club does not have a “River Running Through It” (my apologise to the author and excuse the misquote), consequently the only thing likely to be caught are “grass carp” on this occasion more commonly called “weeds”.

A Couple Of Months Later.

This has got to be one of those “Ooops moments”, it would seem that it is several months – April in fact – since I last put ‘pen to paper’, not that a great deal has happened since that date.  More recently one of my friends in the North – West section of the Fly Dressers Guild asked if I would tie a couple of “Orange Otters” for him.  This fly was a favourite with its’ originator the Reverent Edward Powel, who had a parish in the southern confines of my home county of Shropshire.  The good Rev. was much better at preaching to the streams and rivers of that area than the congregation under his church, though I doubt that many of them complained when his catch not only graced the Vicarage table but those of his parishoners.  At the time (the 30s and 40s) food was not only in short supply but what was available was rationed, so anything extra was appreciated.  His catch rate was usually between 40 and 50 fish per day weighing in at one to one and a half pounds per fish.  If it was not for a book titled “The Orange Otter” and one very knowlagable Mr Louis Noble who belongs to the G.A.I.A. no doubt these flies would have disappeared into the mists of time.  I still have a copy of a photo of the complete collection of the Revs’ flies tied by Louis, which I use as a pattern when tying any of the flies myself.

I have done one outing this year – thanks for that goes to my friend Bernie – at which I managed the grand total of one.  So, the parishioners of Munslow mentioned in the first paragraph would have to drum up something of the five loaves and one fish to get anything out of my catch rate.  None the less it was a pleasant couple of hours at the waterside.  As I have said before and you are probably sick of hearing about it, my close friend Arther Ritis has taken his tole to the effect that I have now had to surrender my Driving Licence, which means I am now reliant on Bernie and others to convey me to and from venues, of course this means that I should have more time at the tying bench – Nah! Not a chance, I still play the role of house husband (badly) and until the little lady retires I am afraid it still takes a chunk of time out of my day.  As I sit here at the computer, I glance out of the window to be greeted with an overcast day, cold, compared to what it has been recently, and a steady shower of drizzley rain, not a day I would have picked to be on the river anyway.

I must get back to the bench and the Gold Award flies, the Muddler Minnow must be pinned and 4 copies done, each to match the others, followed by the Colonel Fuller, both flies in themselves are relatively easy, what is difficult is the matter of getting all four to match.  As I have progressed though these assessments I have found how much more critical I have got, not only over other peoples’ work, but more so that of my own.  This is a good thing when it comes to “flies to catch Assessors” but when it comes down to “flies to catch fish” – well, total accuracy is not so important as the methodology used to tie the fly.  More attention should be paid to a SECURELY tied fly, after all, some of the flies tied by the slate miners at the “Stiniog” mines were rather rough to say the least.  Another book I have “Plu Stiniog” describes these flies, most of which are common only to that area.  “Stiniog” is the local name for Blaenau Ffestiniog, and the flies were used on the lakes (Llyns) surrounding that little town, and yes, I have relatives there as well.  What we should take into consideration is the fact that vises were either something of a new idea or in the case of the lads from Blaenau, non – existant, so these flies were tied in the hand.  In the case of the Rev Powel, he was tying on the equivalent of the modern day #14 hook, now that takes some doing.  I have done this on old ‘blind’ salmon hooks in the region of #1, But I doubt my fingers (or my eyes) would even manage a #10 these days.  When I say the methods used at the bench are as important as the “looks” of the fly, make sure the body of the fly you are tying is secure and no parts of the fly are going to come adrift on the first cast.  When It comes to the heads I am a great believer in a head cement called Fly-Rite which like all good things comes from the good old US of A.  It is very thin, not quite watery, but for this reason it soaks into the head and consequently requires more than one application, I use three.  Normal head cements I fond barely penetrate the first few layers and UV resins are all very good to look at but get a decent sized fish with teeth that resemble Dracula many times over and it shatters, the head unravels and the rest of the fly follows suit.  Well that’s my opinion, for what it’s worth.

I suppose this is as good a point as any to sign off, with the hopes that this has given you something of interest to read or at least to laugh at.  The weather is supposed to be improving toward and following next week end, so there is an opportunity for you to hit the river banks, may the God of tight lines grace your every move, but most of all stay safe and enjoy yourselves.