Friday, April 24, 2009

On tying flies for friends.

A friend of mine asked me last night if I might tie a handful of trad north country spiders for an aquaintance of his and as always I was more than happy to oblige, getting straight to the vice and knocking out the ten patterns above. It helped on this occasion that the request was for spiders - they are quick and easy to tie - but whereas tying flies for my own use sometimes seems a bit of a chore, there is something about tying for friends that inspires one to knuckle down and really try to make a decent job of it.

It's often written in the game angling press that there is nothing more satisfying than catching a fish on a fly of your own making. There is an element of truth in this, but I believe the best feeling of all is to see someone else catch on one of your own patterns.....and if that fly doesn't fall apart after a couple of fish, then so much the better!

As a tyer of trout flies, my skills are severely limited; my consistency is poor and I whip a terrible head. But for any angler who ties his own, there is one definite advantage - regardless of the level of skill involved, or the neatness of the finished article - and that is that the size, colour and shape of the artificial can be closely matched to the insects seen on your particular water. Shop bought flies are all well and good, but they are often just too big and bulky for the insect they are designed to imitate.

Take spiders for example, partridge & orange say. Tied correctly they should be short in body, slim (just two layers of silk), and with a sparse hackle of only 1-2 turns, tied on hooks in the #14 to#18 size class. But so often I see shop-bought jobs tied on size 10 hooks, with a heavily tapered body of fluorescent orange floss and a rib of gold wire - no imitation of any aquatic insect that swims in this neck of the woods, I can tell you!

So while my flies might be pretty shoddy when compared to the work of a commercial tyer, I can rest safe in the knowledge that they are sized and coloured appropriately to match the insects on my own rivers, and that they are all field tested and found to catch fish. Hopefully my friend (you know who you are!), agrees......and if his aquaintance finds they bring him a fish or two, then the meagre effort it took to tie them will be more than amply rewarded.

Clockwise from top:

Woodcock & hare's lug - general purpose caddis.
Partridge & orange - useful B-WO spinner pattern/small stoneflies.
Snipe & purple - small stoneflies/iron blue dun.
Partridge & yellow - mid-late season olive species.
Little black - black gnats/smut.


MCrombie said...

A very informative read, thank you for inspiring me to try Barnsfold in the next few days. Martin

Anonymous said...

Had a look at Barnsfold unfortunately on a very wet day didn't see much activity there. Instead I tried Bank House nr. Lancaster wow, 20 Rainbows. Another guy had a Brown of 11lb take a look at that place, especially after 6pm!

Matthew Eastham said...

Thanks for your comment. I used to fish Bank House when I first started but grew out of it eventually - too much like fishing in a bath tub for my liking......and too many idiots fishing, ahem, 'buzzers' under a float. Not my cup of tea.....