Category Archive Fly Tying


British Fly Fair International 2017

We got off to a shaky start as we all met in the Fairfield Car Park only to learn that Rick couldn’t get the bus started.

We decided to take three cars, so the eleven of us started off at about 6.40am.

As usual we started our day at The Beefeaters for our traditional breakfast.

Justin, Lee, Geraint, Stephen Cox, Steve Carrington, Stephen Green, Sparky, Ben, Rick, Maggie & Rob

All enjoying breakfast.


Craig Hilditch with his fabulous Fly Dresser’s Dresser. Magnificent quality, made to your own specifications.

You can contact Craig at or Telephone: 01347 811889 Mobile: 07814 558400.


Hans Weilenmann tying Saywer’s Pheasant tail Nymph on a size 28 hook!

 Fly tyers work station at half price £325.00

Johan Klingberg of Sweden demonstrates his Flymph.

 Our own club member Paul Slaney representing Wales. Great day enjoyed by all. Looking forward to next year. Especially the Breakfast!


British Fly Fair International 2015



Fifteen of us left in a min-bus from Abergavenny to attend the ‘British Fly Fair International’.

Geraint,Ben,Martin,James, Rob, Steve, Adrian, Stephen, Justin, Neil, Ricky, Malcolm, Jeff, Dave,Lee and of course ‘Monkey’ our mascot.

1st stop was the “Beefeater” at Monmouth where the “Breakfast Club” enjoyed a full breakfast with literally as much as you can eat for £8.75.

Stuffed to the gills we proceeded to the show where we were presented with a vast display of stands selling all anyone could wish for their fly tying needs.

One of the first stands we saw this amazing display of fly tying created by Mike Townend called the “Wee Scottish Dragon”.

Mike informed us that it took him about 3 months to create this masterpiece.


Marc Petijean gave a wonderful display of the History of the CDC and created six various flies in 40 minutes to illustrate this history.


It was appreciated by our members and commented on as the best demonstration of the day.


A big thank you to Geraint for organizing the day and to Ricky for driving us safely to and from the venue.




Fly Tying Club Competition 2016

We held our Fly Tying Club Competition on Thursday 28th January 2016 at The Bear.

This gave our members an opportunity to test their skills against each other. Boxes of materials were placed on the table and each member was allowed to select whatever material they wished and invited to tie any fly they wanted to and to even make up their own fly. The only rule was that they tied two identical flies of their own choice. There were three prizes to win. A box of Davy Wotton dubbing, Dr. Slick Razor Scissors and an “Airflow” 5/6 Reel.


The winners were:-

1st place: Stephen Cox for his “Pink Jig”.

2nd place: Bill Reed for his “Kate McKlaren”

3rd place: Stephen Green for his “Adams”.


“Trout Fishing” in Spring on the River Usk

Trout Fishing in Spring on the River Usk.

What a fantastic time of year this is. The end of the winter has almost come with the usual upsets in the weather but the long dark nights are starting to draw out and those feelings of excitement at catching the first wild fish of the season start to take over.

Times change however and many different things affect our river that result in a change to the behaviour of fish. One such change is the reduction of the great March Brown hatches that the river was famous for.

I often read in some of the fishing magazine’s and I am amazed at some of the articles that still promote the March Brown hatch on the River Usk as being the story of legends.

Well the truth is it used to be one of the most prolific hatches of the fly on this river and was renowned as the place for people to travel to and catch early season brown trout with abandon.

I for one who has regular access to many areas of the Usk have seen only a few small hatches of March Browns in the last five years but don’t let that put you off fishing this great river.

For those of you who do not know what to look for then view the photograph below.

Photo by Kind permission of Dr. CJ Bennett.


The fly is big and once seen on the water cannot be mistaken for anything else other than what it is at this time of year (March/April)

 Where confusion reigns is when an angler sees a great hatch of Grannom Sedge which occurs usually in April. These flies come up out of the water and dance and fly about but always upstream. They hatch in literally thousands and cover the angler.Trout will be seen moving and rising amongst them, but please look carefully and see how many of the adult flies are eaten by those rising trout. You will find it’s not that many.


Left is the Nymph.

Look closer and you may see that they are in fact taking dark olives that are hatching amongst them or better still the emerging Grannom pupa.

This hatch of fly used to be a real mystery to me and I would rarely bother fishing a specific pattern. That is until a great friend Dave Collins taught me better and introduced me to his emerging grannom pupa. This fly often produces some of my biggest trout of the season. 8 over 2lbs the year before last in three days fishing.



The best way to lift your confidence at this time of year is to get down at the river bed and start to do a few kick samples.

To explain all you have to do is get a bit of fine netting and get it to the shape of your landing net and ensure that it fits tightly over the rim. Now put it into the water and hold the handle upright with the rim on the gravel/stones and gently kick your feet disturbing the bottom. The rubbish will settle again to the bottom of the river but the fine netting will collect the nymphs and aquatic life that the trout feast upon.

You will see that the majority of food that the fish eat is a lot smaller than the flies and the colours are a lot darker than you expect. What you will also notice is that most of the insects will be some form of caddis larva or worm.

Last year in April I went out and did just what I have explained and here are the results.

Below are pictures of Olive nymphs. Note the different colour changes of olive. It is worth remembering that olives come in all shapes and sizes but the nymphs of these different types of olive are either agile darters (baetis) or stone clingers (Heptagena)

The nymph below on the right is a stone clinger recognized by its wide flat head and on the left is the slimmer baetis nymph or agile darter

Other insects that will be evident will be caddis larva in their different forms as well as gammarus shrimp.

Here is a photo of a Cased Caddis.

Here is one of a Caddis Larva (Hydropsyche Larva)


A May fly nymph (Ephemera Vulgata/ Danica)

The other insects that prevail at this time are the two types of Stonefly first shown here is the wingless Stonefly.

And now the winged stonefly.

 The photograph below is of a Dark Olive.


The best thing you can do is to get in the river and have a good reference book to hand. Pat O Reilly’s comes to mind with stunning photos by Melvin Grey. What about fishing and what flies to use. For wet fly fishing on a dead drift I would suggest a three fly cast with a Wet Olive Quill on the top dropper.

An Usk Naylor on the Middle dropper.

And a Pheasant tail nymph on the point.

More traditional patterns such as a snipe and purple, Greenwell’s spider and a Waterhen Bloa should also be considered and for upstream dries then you cannot beat a Hares Ear Dry or my own “Snowshoe Emerger” for an Emerger. You can learn how to tie “The Snowshoe Emerger” on my video under the “Video” title on this website.

  • Other patterns to consider are a Kite’s Imperial and an Olive ‘F’ Fly.

The time to fish is between 11am and 4pm each day and any rise in the air temperature will see a hatch of olives. Watch nature and it will tell you when to get ready and in spring just look out for the wagtails as they appear like magic when a hatch is about to start.

My last bit of advice for you is not to dive straight into the river. Watch from the bank first and see where your fish rise. More often they will be in a few inches of water next to the bank and only go a sulk in the deeper water when a careless footfall or splash of line send them scurrying away. Think about short casts and drag free drifts. Fishing for wild fish is not easy but I think one wild fish is worth 20 stocked.

Well it is up to you now. Go softly to the river and look before you jump in.

It is the careful and considerate angler who often catches the most fish.


C&DAS “Fly Tying Club”

The “Klink & Dink” method of fly fishing.

The Klinkhammer is a fly developed in the 1980s by the Dutch angler Hans van Klinken. It is a parachute style of fly intended to imitate an emerging caddis, with the whole of the body sitting below the surface of the water whilst the post that the hackle is tied around sits above, making the fly highly visible.

The Klinkhammer is a hugely successful river fly, probably the best there is. In fact, if I had to choose a single dry fly for all of my river fishing, this would be the one. I must have caught thousands of trout and grayling on Klinkhammers so I always make sure I have a good collection of them in my fly box!

Fishing the Klinkhammer as a single fly is very effective, even when there is no sign of rising fish the Klinkhammer will usually bring fish up. However, another effective technique is to fish a Klinkhammer with a small nymph (the “dink”). This is a great way to cover fish that are feeding on nymphs and those that are willing to come up and take a dry.

For the nymph I usually use a size 14 or 16 with a gold, silver or copper bead head, but you can use any nymph you like as long as it’s not so heavy that it sinks the Klinkhammer!

You can either fish the Klinkhammer on a dropper and fish the nymph on the point, or fish the nymph in the “New Zealand” style so that you tie a length of mono directly to the bend of the Klinkhammer hook and attach the nymph to this. However, I have found that problem with the New Zealand method is that the Klinkhammer does not always hook the fish as well because the nylon attached to the bend of the hook can prevent the fish getting hold of the fly properly. I have seen Klinkhammers tied with a loop of strong nylon under the body to which your tippet and nymph can then be attached, although I have no yet tried this method myself.

Another approach is to attach the section of line for the nymph to the eye of the Klinkhammer kook so that the Klinkhammer is attached to both the main leader and the tippet for the nymph. I have found this method better for hooking than the New Zealand style method, although it can result in the leader spinning after a while. Experiment with these different ways of attaching the nymph to see which one you prefer.

The length of tippet between the Klinkhammer and the nymph can be varied to suit the type of water you are fishing, and how deep you plan to fish the nymph. As a general rule, I usually fish the nymph about 3 feet from the Klinkhammer. Note that the Klinkhammer is not intended to suspend the full weight of the nymph below it, so in this case the nymph would not be fishing 3 feet below the Klinkhammer, and the nymph merely follows the Klinkhammer sinking throughout the drift.

I don’t usually tie my Klinkhammers on the standard Klinkhammer style hooks, as they are oversized (a size 18 Klinkhammer hook is comparable to a standard size 12 or 14), and also fairly expensive. Instead I use the Kamasan B100 hook, and tie the majority of my Klinkhammers in sizes 14 and 16. I also like to tie a few with a brightly coloured wing post using orange antron or yarn, as this makes the fly much more visible when there is light reflecting off the water, and the fish don’t seem to mind one bit. A yellow coloured wing post is also good in low light conditions.

I find that when using the Klink and Dink method the nymph can also be more effective than when fished on its own and without a sight indicator. This is because you are able to detect any sign of drag more easily by watching the Klinkhammer, which is in very close contact with the nymph. If the Klinkhammer is drifting naturally without any drag then the nymph should be fishing pretty well too. Also, takes on the nymph can be detected very quickly (indicated by the Klinkhammer disappearing of course), again due to the close proximity of the nymph and the Klinkhammer.

It’s also a good technique to use if you want to fish a dry fly on a fairly long leader but are faced with a headwind, because the weight of the nymph helps to turn the leader over.

If you have never tried this method, I strongly advise that you do so. It’s usually my first line of attack, especially when fishing somewhere new. Give it a go and I’m sure it will become a favourite method for you too!

August 21st 2014.

Wooly Bugger.

Hook: – Size 10 L/S.

Thread: – Olive 8/0.

Tail: – Olive Marabou.

Rib: – Gold Wire.

Body: – Palmer Hackle Olive Cock.

Head Hackle: – Olive Cock.

Head: Gold Bead or Cone 4mm.

Video: Woolly Bugger.


Hook: – Size 12.

Thread: – Olive 8/0.


Tail: – Olive Marabou.

Body: – Olive Dubbing.

Legs: – Olive Partridge.

Shell: – Black: Olive Feather Fibre.

Eyes: – 20lb mono singed with a lighter & coloured with a permanent marker.

Video: Damsel.


August 7th 2014.

Stoats Tail.

Hook: Single, Double, Treble or Tube.

Thread: – Black 8/0.

Tag: – Oval Silver.

Tail: – GP Crest.

Rib: – Oval Silver.

Body: – Black Floss.

Hackle: – Black Cock.

Wing: – Stoats Tail or Black Squirrel.

Video: Stoats Tail




ThursdayJuly 24th 2014.


Hook: – Hanak H260 BL size 10.

Thread: – Black 8/0.

Tail: – Red Floss.

Rib: – Flat Silver Tinsel.

Body: – Black Dubbing.

Hackle: – Black Hen.

Video: Zulu


Hook: – Size 10 B175.

Thread: – Black 8/0.

Tail: – Red Maribou.

Body: – Flat Silver Tinsel.

Rib: – Medium Silver Wire.

Hackle: – Black Hen.

Wing: – Pair of Peacock Sword Tails.

Video: Alexandra

July 3rd 2014.



Hook: – Dry Fly 12 – 16.

Thread: – Brown.

Tail: – 3 Strands Natural Pheasant.

Rib: – Oval Gold.

Body: – Camel Coloured


Wing: – Elk Hair.

Hackle: – Grizzle & Red Game.

Video: not available.




Chironomid Emerger.

Hook: – 16 – 24 Varivas 2200

Thread: – Black 8/0.

Wing Buds: – Midge Flash.

Thorax: – Hare.

Wing: – CDC Natural.

Video: not available.





Flies tied on June 18th 2014 were:-

Balloon Caddis.

Hook: – 12 – 16.

Thread: – Tan 8/0.

Body: – Cinnamon Caddis Dubbing.

Wing: – Elk Hair.

Head: – Yellow Ethafoam.

Video:  Balloon Caddis


GM Caddis Fly.

Hook: – 12 – 16.

Thread: – Tan 8/0.

Body: – Cinnamon Caddis Dubbing.

Wing: – Polypropylene Yarn & Elk.

Head: – Dubbing & Ginger Hackle.

Video: Not available – but below is a step by step sequence for tying.

Photographs supplied by Paul Slaney.


The flies we tied on June 5th 2014 were:-

Blue Winged Olive. Duck Dun Style.

Hook: – 16.

Thread: – Olive.

Tail: – Dun Microfibbetts.

Body: – Olive Dubbing.

Thorax hackle: – Light Dun.

Wing :- Natural CDC

Video: Blue Winged Olive

Sherry Spinner.

Hook: – 16-18.

Thread: – Rust / Orange.

Tail: – Dun Microfibbets.

Body: – Rusty Orange Dubbing.

Wings: – Polypropylene Yarn / CDC

Video: Sherry Spinner

On May 22nd 2014 we tied:-

 Red Tag.

Hook: – 10-16.

Thread: – Black or Brown.

Hackle: – Red/Brown cock hackle (for dry)

Hen hackle (for wet).

Tail: – Red Wool.

Body: – Peacock Herl.

Video:  Red Tag

Diawl Bach.

Hook: – 10-14

Thread: – Black or Brown.

Tail: – Brown Cock Hackle Fibres.

Rib: – Fine Copper Wire.

Body: – Peacock Herl.

Hackle: – (Beard) Brown Cock Hackle Fibres.

Video: Diawl Bach a little different from the photo as it is in black and has a “wing bud” but it is a good reference guide.

  On May 8th we tied:-

 Usk Naylor

Hook: – Kamazan B175 # 12-14

Thread: – Pearsils Gossamer 8# Purple.

Hackle: – Andalusian Blue Hen (or dark dun).

Tail: – Bronze Mallard Barbs.

Body: – Bronze Mallard.

Rib: – Fine Gold Wire.

Tag: – Pearsils Gossamer 8# Purple.

 Videos:  Usk Naylor  by Hans Weilenmann. or better still  Usk Naylor by Mark Roberts This is the “definitive pattern”.




Hook: – Tube ???

Thread: – Black 8/0

Body: – Black Floss

Rib: – 5 turns of Silver Mylar (to suit tube).

Throat Wing : – Yellow Bucktail/Squirrel or Artic  Fox tied to end of tube extension.

Top Wing : – Black Bucktail/Squirrel or Artic Fox  tied long enough to suit hook size.


Video: Tosh I can only find the “Posh Tosh” at the moment.

Paige demonstrated the “Usk Naylor” in order to be able to include the session in her Portfolio which is part of the process towards her achieving her GAIA professional qualification as a coach for Game Angling, Casting & Fly Tying. She will be able to apply for this award in three years time when she reaches the age of sixteen.

We all wish you every success Paige with your quest for qualifications.



On the 24th April we tied:-

The flies tied were as shown below plus a “special” invented by Geraint which embraced both patterns.

The next session will be on Thursday 8th of May at The Bear Hotel.

Gold Head Hare’s Ear Nymph.

 Hook: – 12-18 down eyed Kamazan B175 or B170.

Thread: – 8.0 or 14.0 sheer.

Body: – Hare’s ear dubbing.

Head: – Brass Bead. –

Video: Gold Head Hare’s Ear

Pheasant Tail Nymph

Hook: – 12-18 down eyed Kamazan B175 or B170.

Thread: – 8.0 or 14.0 sheer.

Body: – Centre Tail Cock Pheasant.

                                                               Rib: – Copper wire.

               Video:    Pheasant Tail Nymph

On the 10th April 2014.

We had a good turn out of about 15 members at the C&DAS Fly Tying Club on Thursday 10th April.

The demonstrations were greatly improved with the use of a Video/Projector which made observations much easier.

Members agreed that they would like the sessions to be held every two weeks instead of just once a month.

These were the Flies which were tied:-

Black F-Fly

Hook:- Fine wire dry fly hook size14

Thread:- Black

Body:- Black Dubbing

Wing:- 2 CDC tips

Video:  Black ‘F’ Fly

Partridge and Lugg

Hook:- Kamasan B175 size 14

Thread:- Brown

Body:- Hares Ear Dubbed

Rib:- Fine Gold Wire

Hackle:- Brown Partridge Feather.

Here’s the video. It’s a little different from the version we tied as it has a tail, nevertheless it is a good aide memoire.        Video: Partridge & Lugg


C&DAS launched their “Fly Tying Club” on March 13th at The Bear Hotel in “The Conference Room”.

We are pleased to say that 20 people turned up which included 3 juniors and 5 guests.

It was agreed for the immediate future that we would meet on the 2nd Thursday of every month between 7pm – 9pm.

Members were given a choice between bringing their own materials or pay a subscription of £5 per session where all material would be provided.

They all voted to pay the £5 subscription.

There will be no charges for Juniors. This will not be a “profit making event” any residues of money left over will be deposited into the “Junior Academy” fund.

We got off to a good start with 20 “pupils” which included 3 Juniors and 5 guests.

Check out the videos for the “CDC & Elk Hair Caddis Fly” & a variant of the Black Spider “The Black Magic Spider Fly” below:-

Check out the videos for the “CDC & Elk Hair Caddis Fly” & a variant of the Black Spider “The Black Magic Spider Fly” below:-

Getting in for a closer look.

Geraint demonstrating a CDC & Elk Hair Caddis pattern.

We started with a CDC & Elk Hair Caddis pattern.

Video:   CDC & Elk Hair Caddis

We finished the evening with a “Black Spider” pattern.

Click on the link below for a video of a variant of this fly. “The Black Magic Spider Fly”

Video: Black Spider

Just to show that it works, Justin copied the CDC&Elk Hair Caddis pattern off our website

(see website in the background of the photo) and produced a few of these flies.

This is one of them.

He then went down to our Glangwryney Court beat and caught two beautiul “Brownies”.


One of them is shown on the left.



C&DAS “Fly Tying Club” Xmas 2014 Competition Evening

We held our C&DAS Fly Tying Xmas Competition on Thursday 11th November 2014 at The Bear Hotel.

It was a fun evening with lots of banter.

Copious amounts of fly tying materials were put on the table and our members were asked to choose any amount and any materials they wished.

Their task was to tie one fly twice. Each fly had to be as near as identical to each other as possible.

They could choose any category they wished, Trout fly or Salmon Fly.


Sportfish vouchers were the prizes.

Shown above are the four contenders.

1.Dave Saunders – Damsels. won best lure.

2. Paul Slayney – Slayers. won best of all of the flies.

3. Stephen Cox – Queensmill. won best trout fly.

4. Steve Carrington – Salmon Flies. won best salmon fly.

5. Trevor Watkins won most improved fly tyer and won a bottle of red wine.


Flies for the Usk

Fly Hatches & their imitations for the Usk & Grwyney Rivers.

Article supplied by Paul Bowen.

The following is a rough guide to the various fly hatches found on our waters within the Usk catchment. Some of the emergences vary considerably from year to year and timings have also varied considerably in recent seasons due to constantly changing climatic and river conditions – some years they are early; some years they are late. You pay your money and take your chance!!

Early Season (March / April): The main hatches in the early season are the Large Dark Olives, Grannom, Stoneflies, March Browns and the Iron Blue Dun. By far the most important nowadays are the Large Dark Olives, Grannom and Stoneflies. The hatch of March Browns, for which the River Usk was duly famous at one time, is but a shadow of what it once was. Iron Blue Dun hatches are also very sparse and infrequent in recent seasons but, like the March Browns, when they are on the water the trout will feed avidly on them. The Large Dark Olive hatch is usually pretty reliable and some years the Grannom come off the water in clouds and can be found resting on bank-side vegetation and stones in huge numbers. Various Stoneflies appear on all our waters throughout the trout fishing season and includes the Yellow Sally, Needle Fly, Willow Fly and the large Perlid Stoneflies.

May & June: This is a great time to be on the river because there are so many hatches to consider and by now the trout are in fine fettle. Mayflies are found on all of our beats on the main river but their emergence varies greatly from year to year. However, some seasons they have been phenomenal. Most years there are good and reliable hatches of Mayfly on the River Grwynne throughout June. Without exaggerating, these hatches can rival a true chalkstream at times. Other prolific hatches in May / June are the Yellow May Duns, Blue-Winged Olives and Pale Wateries. Medium Olives and Olive Uprights also feature but these are nowhere near as dense as they used to be. Various smaller sedge species start to put in an appearance, as do Hawthorn Flies, Caenis, False March Browns and Brook Duns.

July & August: This is the time of year to usually fish very early or very late in the day. Now the various sedges are about in huge numbers and there are still reliable and dense hatches of the Blue-Winged Olives, Pale Wateries and, in recent, prolonged seasons, Yellow May Duns. Olive Uprights, Small Dark Olives and Autumn Duns are regular hatches at this time of the summer and the trout will often gorge themselves during the day and early evening on Black Gnats, midges and smuts. Terrestrials also feature in the trout’s diet at this time and include items such as ants, Cowdung Flies, Craneflies (Daddy Long-Legs), beetles, moths and caterpillars.

Late Season – September: Various sedges, Blue-Winged Olives and Large Dark Olives hatch in profusion throughout September, and occasionally there are dense hatches of Autumn Duns as well. Sparser hatches of Medium Olives and Pale Wateries also occur. From late July through until the end of the trout fishing season on the River Usk on 30th September, the trout will also feed heavily in the margins on fish fry, especially in low-light conditions at dawn and dusk. Fishing suitable fry imitations at these times can produce excellent sport and some bigger than average specimens.

Trout will feed on freshwater shrimps and various chironomids (midges) throughout the year.

Imitations: Suitable fly patterns to imitate all the flies listed above can be found in most game angling catalogues or in fly tying books. However, most anglers fish with flies that are far too big. Sedges can be tied on hooks up to about size 12 but artificial flies to imitate the various up-winged species, generally, need to be much smaller with sizes 16 – 22 being the norm. You will also need patterns in dry, wet, nymph, emerger and spinner form because the trout can be highly selective, and extremely frustrating, in their feeding habits at times!! Patterns that you would not want to be without during the season are as follows : Greenwell’s Glory, Kite’s Imperial, Olive CDC (various shades of olive), Waterhen Bloa, Hare’s Lug and Plover, Snipe and Purple, Usk Nailer, Partridge and Orange, Czech nymphs (various), Pheasant Tail Nymph, Sedge Pupa (orange, olive and dark green bodies), Rhyac Pupa, Cased Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis and Roman Moser’s Balloon Caddis (tied in a variety of body, hackle and wing tones from black through dark browns to a pale tan colouration), light and dark Bustard-style flies, Klinkhammers (various colours), various gold-head (and tungsten-head) nymphs, GRHE nymph, Mayfly patterns, Yellow May Comparadun, various Sparkle Duns, March Brown, B-W O (especially comparadun-style), Pale Watery (especially comparadun-style), Hawthorn Fly, Black Gnat, Midge patterns (especially black, red and olive), beetle patterns (especially ethafoam or deer hair varities), shrimp patterns (olive and orange), Pheasant Tail, Adams, Grey Duster, Red Spinner, Orange Spinner and a few fry imitations or streamer-type flies.

If you cannot source any of these fly patterns, or in the sizes that you require, then contact one of the local fly tying experts and ask them to tie some up for you, but expect to pay realistic prices. They only use quality hooks and materials and do not charge sweat-shop prices!! As with all things in life – you get what you pay for!!

If you would like perfectly tied flies, they don’t come much better than Gareth Lewis.

He is an expert on “Micro flies” tied down to a size 30 hook!  or

 Gareth demonstrating at the BFFI.

If you would like some good “Salmon & Sea Trout” flies then Alun Rees “The Enigmatic Angler” is a good choice.

Below is his “Secret Weapon Mount” Sea Trout Pattern.

You can contact Alun on or

Alun with a fine Sewin.



Fly Proportions

These are the proportions you need to bear in mind when tying your flies.

Courtesy of The Fly Dressers Guild. Photographs by John Symonds.


How to choose the correct Fly (upwings)

How to choose the correct fly (upwings)

Courtesy of The Gwent Angling Society. written by:

© Illustrated by John – All rights reserved

One of the many decisions we have to make when we go fishing is what fly to put on. I know that this seems an obvious thing to say but I am often surprised what people actually fish with on the end of their leader.  I will try and explain some of the thought process that I go through to help me make a decision for trout fishing a river no matter what time of year we are there.  The first thing is learn about entomology which is simply the study of insects and as these are the items trout feed upon it will help you make the right choice.

 There are four main groups of flies that trout and grayling concentrate upon. The first are what traditionally we think of what trout eat and these are termed Up winged flies or EPHEMEROPTERA. There are a number of specific stages that these insects go through. Many are a focus for trout and when you become aware of when they are at these specific stages it will enable you to choose the right pattern.  In the diagram below you will see the different stages that the fly develops through its life cycle.

We can fish patterns that relate to the different stages that the trout feed upon the insects and these main patterns include weighted nymphs which are fished deep in the water if not near the bottom of the river, unweighted nymphs which can be fished when the nymphs move from the deeper depths to the mid levels of the stream further towards the surface in anticipation of hatching as a dun.

 There are then patterns that can represent the emerging dun and are fished in the water surface and are often part nymph and part dry fly.

We can then fish either dun or true dry flies or even variations of these that imitate those flies that have died or are near to death following the failure to emerge completely from the nymphal shuck or have done so but have been trapped within or on the meniscus film. (That layer of water that meets the air and on which insects float on)

Photo by Kind permission of Dr. CJ Bennett

  Once hatched and the fly has left the water many species will then metamorphosis or change, (for interest this transitional change is known as an instar) again to become sexually mature (Imago) where they will be seen dancing in clouds above the banks. Once male and female have mated the females return to the water to deposit the next generations of eggs and often die through exhaustion. This is often referred to as a fall of spinners and can result in fantastic sport for often-larger fish. These falls occur when the light is faded either at the end or beginning of the day.

Photo by Kind permission of Dr. CJ Bennett

 With just one category of fly we can now have several patterns to choose from and this is often dictated by observation by you the angler for you need to know what the fish are feeding upon or at least be able to make an educated guess.  This is done by a simple kick sample of a few seconds and by watching the water to see how the fish are rising or feeding. It will also be dictated by your preferred method of fishing.  This is the same process of elimination for most rivers and all that is needed now are to get to know what flies can be expected to be seen on the water you are fishing at any particular time of the year.  Remember you do not need an exact copy of the living insect but you will want a fly that will match those trigger points that the fish are searching for.  A general rule that I use is to first get the size and silhouette right. These are probably the two most important factors and then you can think about colour.  A good thing to remember is that when an invertebrate is in its nymphal state then they tend to be opaque as they merge with the riverbed. As they start to emerge they become brighter as gases expand the outer shell to allow the release of the dun inside. The duns and spinners in particular are generally translucent and allow light to pass through their bodies.

 The trout or grayling chooses a fly to eat because it recognizes it as food. The way it does this is it looks for the right triggers so that it can respond. This often answers the question when a large hatch of fly is taking place why the trout prefer to eat something else often a lot smaller. I believe it is simply because the fish hasn’t as yet switched onto the larger hatch as available food.  Many of the ‘triggers ‘that get a response from the trout are related to where it expects to find its food at a given time. A number of anglers think that trout are only feeding when they see them rise on the surface. The truth is that they will feed all day until they almost burst if the food is available provided they are switched on to that food source.  Now before you choose your fly you have to know what the trout are likely to be feeding upon and where they are looking for that source of food. This is often dictated by the water and air temperature and time of year as well as to the type of water you are fishing.  Many of these questions can be easily by completing a simple 10-second kick sample to see what invertebrates are available.  To explain all you have to do is get a bit of fine netting and get it to the shape of your landing net and ensure that it fits tightly over the rim. Now put it into the water and hold the handle upright with the rim on the gravel/stones and gently kick your feet disturbing the bottom. The rubbish will settle again to the bottom of the river but the fine netting will collect the nymphs and aquatic life that the trout feast upon.  You will see that the majority of food that the fish eat is a lot smaller than the flies and the colours are a lot darker than you expect.

Photo by Kind permission of Dr. CJ Bennett

If you are not sure what type of nymphs or flies you have collected then just take some of the flies you have in your fly box and lay them in the water beside the insects and pick the one that looks similar in size and shape to the majority of the nymphs in the sample.  What you will find is that you will soon have a collection of half a dozen nymphs, half a dozen emergers and half a dozen dry patterns that will fulfill your every need for the season.  To develop a better knowledge and understanding at what you are finding in your waters then I can recommend some of the Field Studies Council (FSC) AIDGAP publications which are designed for such a purpose as this and do not fall apart when wet!!! The publications available can be seen at www.field-studies-council.orgorcontact them by email at