celebrating Nature’s palette… Mr & Mrs Mallard


I just love this picture… I read somewhere that globally, Mallards are the most widespread species of duck. They always make me smile when I see them.

striking a pose... completely at ease with my proximity these two were enjoying Spring in the Serpentine in Hyde Park

striking a pose… completely at ease with my proximity these two were enjoying Spring in the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Photo – metiefly

Thank you for visiting, as always.

Burkheimer – true craftsmanship!


I saw this video on the Fishing in Style website… I am inspired by the passion for quality and perfection that goes into every rod… The narrator says “part of that person, part of the passion goes into each rod…”

Powerful stuff!

Thames adventures and aquatic beetles in Africa


I spent several hours on the Thames over the last two days reconnecting my casts in pursuit of a sea trout, or any species willing to hunt my offerings. The wind has been perfect, allowing me to cast upstream and work my fly through riffles and runs at low tide. No bites so far and plenty of time to ponder – what a tremendous way to iron out all the wrinkles that work and commuting create.

I longed to tie a credible Walker’s Killer since my very first attempt at dressing a hook, back in 1984 when I first met my trout hunting friend Gareth. From an early age he tied flies for his family’s annual pilgrimage to the mountains of Nyanga – perfecting many techniques, trusting his instincts and improvising with locally sourced materials and colour combinations. Hooks were hard to come by in tiny sizes and I would often tie a fly, examine it for a while, then I would cut off the thread, feathers and wool to start again!

Last night I rekindled my enthusiasm for this pattern using woodcock feathers and squirrel tail… My technique needs further refining however I am confident that with continued practice and the right feathers (partridge feathers are best) I will master it at last!

Herewith my first prototypes for the time being:

This magic pattern mimics water beetles, dragon fly larvae or small fish. Have a go at tying your own and let me know when you succeed!

This magic pattern mimics water beetles, dragon fly larvae or small fish. Have a go at tying your own and let me know when you succeed!

The more I practise, the easier it gets - I discovered that a similar pattern, the Mrs Simpson is used specifically for sea trout in New Zealand, fished at night... Will mine work in the Thames this season?

The more I practise, the easier it gets – I discovered that a similar pattern, the Mrs Simpson is used specifically for sea trout in New Zealand, fished at night… Will my equivalents work in the Thames this season?

I use liquid fusion superglue to cement their heads... Make sure they dry sufficiently before you handle them or store them to prevent them from sticking to each other.

I use liquid fusion superglue to cement their heads… Remember to ensure they dry sufficiently before handling them or storing them to prevent them from sticking to each other.

woodcock feathers produce a different effect - I look forward to using partridge feathers to recreate the original in due course...

woodcock feathers produce a different effect – I look forward to using partridge feathers to recreate the original in due course…

Water beetles are ubiquitous in the lakes and rivers that I visited as a boy – perhaps this is why the Walker’s Killer is such a hit there:

Photo - Art.com

Photo – Art.com. Cybister tripunctatus is a predatory water beetle that hunts Odonata larvae… In Southern Africa There are over 200 species of water beetles in the Family Dytiscidae alone.

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

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.

A BONEFISHING CHALLENGE ON ABACO: THE ‘WHICH?’ REPORT


metiefly:

I am hugely grateful to fellow blogger and custodian of the Great Outdoors RH for helping me in my ongoing endeavours to catch a bonefish by remote control! This was a long term experiment involving mighty feats of design, implementation, collaboration and documentation, and a fair few air miles! Massive thanks to the patient testers and I look forward to future iterations should they unfold.

Originally posted on ROLLING HARBOUR ABACO:

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A BONEFISHING CHALLENGE ON ABACO

In January I posted an article called BONEFISHING ON ABACO: A CHALLENGE IS ACCEPTED. This stemmed from contact online with fisherman and fly tyer Mark Minshull, who kindly tied some flies for me to try on the Marls. In the post I showed pictures of my manky flybox and his immaculate flies. We agreed to see how things turned out while I was on Abaco in March, and  that I would report back…   

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Mark 1 Specimen Bonefish Flies

THE ‘WHICH?’ REPORT ON MARK 1 BONEFISHING FLIES

We set out to test the efficacy of  prototype ‘Mark 1′ bonefishing flies in the waters of the Abaco Marls. Our testers came from the US (TC & AH), Northern Ireland (AB), and England (RH). All are proficient fly fishermen with experience of several prime bonefishing destinations between them, except for the Englishman RH who was included to…

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urban trout wanderings…


Today’s bright weather seemed ideal for me to return and search for the completely unexpected trout that graces my memory so often since I saw it four years ago. Up early, I enjoyed an invigorating walk, admiring the clean water in the Thames as I went. I left the river wondering how soon I will meet another sea trout, or perhaps even my first Thames salmon this season… Amazing thoughts!

I cannot help thinking that all the rain we received earlier this year definitely helped flush out our waterways. The Tidal Thames seldom looks crystal clear, however the water is in the best condition I have ever seen it at the moment.

I cannot help thinking that all the rain we received earlier this year definitely helped flush out our waterways. The Tidal Thames seldom looks crystal clear, however the water is in the best condition I have ever seen it at the moment.

As I made my way towards the magical stream, my excitement grew  - is it too much to expect a small population of fish to cling on to survival, despite all the potential threats? What about all the rains we had in the winter? I peeped into the water as I crossed the first bridge, delighted to see it running clear and full, ample sign of aquatic life in every nook and cranny. In stealth mode, I walked quietly and swiftly, eyes peeled and tuned into my surroundings… Springtime is such an intoxicating gift, so full of promise and abundance!

Embracing the joy of Springtime - definitely worth the long winter nights...

Embracing the joy of Springtime – definitely worth the long winter nights…

The first shoal of fish gave themselves away, scattering as a breathtakingly beautiful pair of mandarin ducks sneaked along the far shoreline. About thirty fish slightly longer than my hand darted with such speed… I think they were common dace, conspicuous by their fast movement and the reddish tinge to their fins. Glad that I had spotted some fish, I was even more eager to locate a trout!

This pair has a massive territorial range, unless there are multiple pairs along this stretch of river - I saw some at the top end of my walkabout, as well as near the start. They are literally breathtaking especially when the sun shines on them so perfectly.

This pair has a massive territorial range, unless there are several pairs along this stretch of river – I saw some at the top end of my walkabout, as well as near the start. They are stunning to behold, especially when the sun shines on them so perfectly.

I pushed further upstream until a large, deep pool gave me reason to feel that there must be a trout here if there are to be any in the river… Shadows criss-crossed the calm water and I was grateful for my polarised sunglasses, peering into the depths. Almost imperceptibly, a shape loomed up from the darkness… About 30 centimetres of exactly what I had been searching for! Two others joined it and I savoured the experience of watching them frolic in the slow moving current. I caught myself wondering what the passers by thought I was staring at so intently. Clear pictures would be tricky to take because of the reflections in the water so I marked the spot mentally for future visits and walked on upstream.

The following video was taken after I had witnessed countless trout in several sections of the stream… Ideal habitat is limited, however from this short clip you can see for yourself that numbers are strong for the time being:

I spent a couple of idyllic hours filming and photographing these amazing fish… Enjoy the footage and if you want to see more, please visit my urban trout page.

There were about four species of fish schooling together... I would love to know if there are a mix of brown trout and rainbow trout in this population! Perhaps the need to conduct some catch and release research in due course

There were about four species of fish schooling together. I would love to know if there is a mix of brown trout and rainbow trout in this population! Perhaps a need to conduct some catch and release research in due course!

Considering the number of pictures and videos I took, there are not many that show them up close and personal... But then again most of my readers will know how hard it is to get within close photographic distance on a clear sunny day!

Considering the number of pictures and videos I took, there are not many that show the trout ‘up close and personal’… then again – most readers will understand the challenge of getting within close photographic distance on a clear sunny day!

I am still struggling to contain my excitement - and to think that I saw fish from at least three different year groups. I will have to catch and release a few to ensure correct identification... Will they be resident browns, sea trout or rainbows?

I am still struggling to contain my excitement – and to think that I saw fish from at least three different year groups. I will have to catch and release a few to ensure correct identification… Will they be resident browns, sea trout or rainbows?

Once again I sincerely thank all the wonderful people who toil so hard to keep our rivers clean – please let’s all continue to do whatever we can too.

Thank you for reading, I look forward to your next visit!

season finale – ending on a top note


The spring in my step as I carried my kit to the car yesterday morning was for several reasons: I had crafted some neat flies in the hope of bringing together all the lessons I’d learned since October. The weather was fresh and Spring was urged on by a sweet cacophony of birdsong. Every season we are privileged to fish brings opportunity to grow and develop our knowledge and understanding – and if we are inclined to, to share this responsibly. Would my latest flies work well enough to reach my quota? The stakes were high as we are rapidly approaching March 31st and I had more fish tickets than I had anticipated at this late stage.

The lake was empty of other anglers when I arrived, and full of fish. A steady southerly breeze was already blowing however bright sunshine created perfect conditions for my pattern. Previously off-coloured water was now crystal clear, allowing the gold bead to draw attention from a distance. Armed with my 7/8 weight rod, I chose the near side bank to cast facing into the wind (I do this often in preparation for sea fishing conditions) and it was not long before I saw a trout rise near the middle.

In my previous post I outlined the key attributes of my latest fly design. Added weight and a slim profile helps long distance casting significantly. Extra momentum helps extend the tippet to its full length on a decent cast. Using the wind to drift my final shoot of line, my fly dropped into the zone – my senses on high alert as I began a slow figure of eight retrieve… Only a couple of seconds passed before I felt a telltale knock – an almost imperceptible bump on the end of my line! I paused for three seconds, glad I had resisted the instinct to strike, then increased the speed of my retrieve – the bite was strong and I was fighting my first fish of the day within minutes of arriving.

perfect rainbow in crystal waters - sincere gratitude to the custodians of Syon Park and Albury Estates

Yet another perfect rainbow in crystal waters – sincere gratitude to the custodians of Syon Park and Albury Estates

3lbs of power - these are hard fighting fish especially when the water is cold!

This time 3lbs of power – these are hard fighting fish especially when the water is cold!

Each fish was unique and exciting to catch – in rapid succession I had confirmed beyond any measure of doubt that last night’s pattern is highly effective. Equally important in my book is hardiness – the ability to catch multiple fish and retain its form. Here it is after fish number seven:

Still together after fish no. 7 - sturdy and effective design is what I strive for and this pattern definitely delivers.

Still together after fish no. 7 – sturdy and effective design is what I strive for and this pattern definitely delivers.

My previous record number of trout on the same fly is eight. I matched that yesterday and whilst aiming for number nine, I lost the fly on a poorly timed back cast! Glad I had made more than one, I tied on another in an attempt to use my last fish ticket of the season.

Whilst I had been enjoying non stop action all morning, I watched as a father and son took their first fly fishing lesson with highly respected AAPGAI instructor Robin Elwes of Farlows. Now they made their way over to fish nearby and I greeted them as they walked past. Soon after I had tied on my new fly, I landed my final fish of the season. Immediately, I cut my fly off the tippet and made my way to the gentlemen along the bank… Greeting them, I asked Robin to please use my fly on the young man’s rod – I introduced myself to Oscar, shook his hand and suggested for them to rather use my spot as I was finished for the day.

Just imagine my joy as whilst I packed up, I watched Oscar catch his first trout ever, his Dad bursting with pride and dutifully capturing the moment on camera.

magic moment - I wish Oscar and his Dad  a lifetime of safe and exciting fly fishing adventures together

magic moment – I wish Oscar and his Dad a lifetime of safe and exciting fly fishing adventures together

I bid them farewell and made my way home. As I drove, I slowed down to watch from a distance as Robin hurried to grab the landing net for Oscar’s second fish… Words cannot express how happy I am for him and I wish him and all new fly fishers around the world tight lines and a lifetime of adventures. May we all protect and serve the Great Outdoors together.

To honour my Dad’s Birthday tomorrow, I hereby name this pattern the “metiefly damsel” and I have added it to my design page due to it’s proven success.

three of the finest - coarse deer hair tips and a striking colour combination. In the morning of 22 March I caught eight fish on the middle fly in this picture then lost the fly on a bad back cast. I tied on a replacement, caught a ninth and final fish to end my season... What happened next was even better than I could have dreamt: a young man caught his first two trout ever on it - hopefully the beginnings of endless adventures for him and his Dad!

three of the finest – coarse deer hair tips and a striking colour combination. In the morning of 22 March I caught eight fish on the middle fly in this picture then lost the fly on a bad back cast. I tied on a replacement, caught a ninth and final fish to end my season… What happened next was even better than I could have dreamt: a young man caught his first two trout ever on it – hopefully the beginnings of endless adventures for him and his Dad!

Thank you for reading, as always I look forward to your next visit.