In keeping with the thrifty theme of last week's post, I now present to you.........Caimore Scissors!
After dropping my current pair point first on the dining room floor (the fly tying scissor equivalent of toast landing butter side down), I was forced to enter the market once more for a replacement pair. Strangely this also happened to two different mates of mine in the last couple of weeks - an indication that we have all started tying flies again in readiness for the new season.
In the past I have paid some eye-watering sums for fly tying scissors, but these days my life is ruled by recession and children, and the inevitable wallet strain they incur. So I shunned the Dr Slicks and Fishponds of the world and instead took a punt on Caimore Direct and some self-branded scissors selling at a mighty £3.75 delivered! Within two days of placing my order, they arrived - a fine point pair for tying work, and a slightly larger 'standard' pair for cutting materials and so on.
The verdict, when I gave them their first run out this morning, was surprising. Excellent quality, sharp serrated blades, capable of cutting the finest threads right at the very tip. It was one of those 'high five' moments. Goddamit, in early February even the smallest of victories warrants a mention!
If like me you are a clumsy sod with an aversion to spending money on workaday items, then treat yourself to a pair and I promise you will not be disappointed. Find them here.
So to the tying. This morning was an exercise in re-stocking on basics. I put together a few Griffiths Gnats, crippled spinners and finally a few of the stock para-emergers which I have come to trust implicitly over the years. In doing so I realised that despite the fact they are ever present in my fly box, and that I spend large parts of each spring with one tied to my tippet; despite this, I can't ever remember posting a photo of one on this blog. Not that there is anything exciting to show of course; they are merely lightweight variations on the ubiquitous klinkhamer theme - a pattern of which thousands of river fishers up and down the country will have their own versions tucked away somewhere.
Although most UK anglers call this type of fly a 'klink', the original as developed by Hans van Klinken, is quite a different beast being somewhat larger and heavier in the dressing. It was designed to ride the fast flows of large Norwegian rivers and as such requires a good few turns of top quality genetic cock hackle to keep it plumb in such heavy water. What we refer to as 'klinks' are more often than not simply para-emergers tied on an altogether more rounded-bend hook, and in considerably smaller sizes. Personally I favour a slightly leggy and sparse hackle, having found it far more effective than a dense genetic job. Provided the dressing is kept reasonably light, there are no issues with it staying afloat.
Hook: Varivas 2200 #14,16
Thread: Griffiths sheer 14/0 cinnamon
Rib: yellow Pearsalls silk
Wingpost: single ply of TMC Aerodry wing
Dubbing: Masterclass #1 and #2 blended
Hackle: Metz dark dun
Finally, a handful of the simplest pattern I have ever tied. With my thoughts turning to warm summer days and trout sipping beneath the overhanging trees, I remembered a conversation I had with Penrith angler Terry Cousin one July day on the Emaont last year. Terry had generously given me a small box of his own 'Eden specials' which were surviving remnants from a concerted tying exercise he had undertaken back in the mid eighties when in a frenzied period he had amassed a huge collection of flies, hoping they would last the rest of his days. They were elegant, fully hackled patterns which would prove as effective today as they always had done. Amongst them was a pair of small foam beetles, and when I complimented Terry on their appearance, he went on to describe an even smaller version which he used to use, consisting merely of black seal's fur dubbed onto a tiny hook.
I liked the sound of that pattern then and vowed to recreate - kind of like a tiny Shipman's buzzer for terrestrial feeding river trout. The half dozen below are the result of this. Whether or not I'm on the right lines, only Terry himself would be able to say. Perhaps if he drops by here, we will find out. For want of a description, I've named it 'the speck', and fully intend to cast it towards a fussy midsummer fish feeding on beetles, gnats or smut.
Hook: Varivas 2110 featherlight dry #20
Thread: Griffiths sheer 14/0, black
Dubbing: seal's fur - 50% black, 50% ant black
Interestingly, I also tried some of these on a #22 hook and blend of green seal's furs, with the intention of creating a passable aphid imitation. The effect was nowhere near as appealing.