Category Archives: Fly Tying

Is this normal?

As a recent ‘nubie’ to fly tying of all of a few months I have started to notice a few strange and somewhat odd traits and thought processes in recent weeks. Are these normal happenings that others experience I wonder or is it something purely afflicting me?

Whilst I am still at ‘nursery school‘ in terms of ability and learning I have been amazed just how quickly this pastime begins to consume your time and thoughts, to say nothing about your wallet! Those who have been witness to the constant posts of my various ‘creations’ each week will have experienced my obsessiveness first hand. UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_c39Perhaps this need to share online each new attempt is in part related to working away each week with solo evenings and the absence of anyone to share my ‘achievements’ with directly.

Aside from the early addictive attraction of tying and learning even the basic techniques and patterns there is a further even more surprising and a little but weird phenomena I have noticed. Not being satisfied with occupying myself in the evenings learning to tie I have recently found myself looking at all sorts of animate and inanimate objects and materials in relation to fly bodies, wings and so on! Whether in a shop, on the way to work or in the checkout line I cannot help but spot something and think ‘that would make great material for…..”.  I’m ashamed to say that I even noticed a young lady the other day with the most magnificent red hair and thought that would be an excellent wing material,  or more likely a basis for a criminal complaint! Are these thoughts normal or just the sign of over obsession?

Perhaps once the fishing season starts then my thinking will improve and return to normal.



So much to master “Every Day is a school day”!

I have during the past few months thrown myself into trying to understand the basics of fly tying. On the one hand this has proven to be a great way to pass the long dark evenings when fishing is not an option. One the other hand whilst really enjoyable, not to say addictive, it has been with mixed success and only heightened my absolute respect for those wonderful fly tyers who craft their beautiful, amazing and consistent ‘works of art‘. Aside from pure admiration, I often smile when I see facebook posts that are annotated with innocent comments such as “a small order created from the vice this evening….” illustrated with images of a 40-50 amazing creations! Aside from the quality of the flies shown I chuckle to myself thinking “assuming I could tie such beauties, 40 or 50 flies would take me the best part of 4-6 weeks!”.

Anyway what have I learned so far as an infant fly tier?

One – it’s not as easy as it looks but I am really enjoying the learning and the challenge!

Two – it’s compulsive, addictive and expensive to get started with constant orders for more materials!

Three – Listen to others – Including “Less is more” as so many of you have advised, thanks the message finally starting to sink in. Pay heed to advice so freely offered i.e. less material., less turns and to use the “false head principle‘ to avoid those clumsy big heads and keep head size to a minimum.

Four – Thank goodness for YouTube and Davie McPhail, Ryan Houston and others without whom I would be completely lost.

Five – Reduce time spent searching the table for things by starting with only what you need in the first place for the pattern that you are tying.

Six – Finally persistence and practice pays off eventually. Sometimes frustration takes over when things seem out of reach, including early attempts to master the whip finishing tool which often ended up across the other side of the room in the early days!

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So much to learn but enjoying the ride and cannot wait to try to tempt a fish or two on these first self tied creations – even if they are not the Miss World of fly tying. I fully expect that the vice may take second place once the season gets into full swing. Thank you to everyone for all of the the advice and encouragement.


A personal favourite pattern

Willie Gun Copper Tube Fly, December 2019

Continuing to practice basic tying techniques I opted for a Willie Gun variant courtesy of Davy McPhail. This is one of my favourite patterns and a fairly basic fly but a great choice for Spring and later in season.

Plan is to tie a few of these in different weights and sizes and tube materials (copper and plastic) in order to provide maximum flexibility on the water in terms of conditions.

Starting with 1′ copper tubes  I immediately was aware of just how small the 1/2′ versions were in terms of tying areaWhilst far from perfect I was quietly pleased with the first results. The 1/2″ version may not be so straightforward. Thank you once more to Davie McPhail.


Long way to go but starting to really enjoy this fly tying malarkey although still trying to come to terms with the basics.wnaGYfDLQcqJkDB3ePkUSA_thumb_bfc

Time Flies

Pushing on practising cascades “MacKenzie Cascades” (Davie McPhail) on #8 Gold Patriots. Taking on board advice that less is more and consciously reducing dressing weight.

Feeling a need for a change – my first attempt at a “Green Highlander Cascade”courtesy of Davie MacPhail.

Green Highlander Cascade (Davie McPhail)

Amazed at just how quickly the time goes when at the vice

Fly-Tying trials and tribulations

27th November 2019

On these long cold , dark nights what else is there to do but try to learn something new and prepare for the season ahead. Gradually feel I am starting to get the hang of some of the basics, with some cursing and swearing at thread breaks which thankfully are becoming less, I am very slowly able to produce something recognisable. They ‘mystery’ that was the whip finish tool has finally been overcome after many attempts and expletives.

1″ copper White Willie Gun (Davy McPhail)
1″ plastic Green Highlander spey tube (Davy McPhail)

Probably not the easiest patterns to start learning to to tie but enjoyed the challenge and Davie McPhail’s videos are invaluable. A special thanks to Dave McPhail for sending me some of the heavy duty tubing which I struggled to source, thank you Davy for your kindness. An enormous thank you also to everyone far and wide for all the helpful advice and support on Facebook without which I would probably have quit!

McKenzie Cascade on Gold Patriot (Davy McPhail)

Now I plan to concentrate on some doubles including cascades largely as a result of such advice in order to try to practice ‘the basics’. Observations thus far is the amount of ‘waste’ materials – where there seems to be more on the carpet than the vice! Other factors is the constant on-line orders for yet more materials when you start to tie something new!fullsizeoutput_78a