Be careful what you wish for………

Lest it should slip your minds…..This is what we’re here for

A passion for this beautiful, enigmatic and bloody frustrating Chalk Stream.

And why I’m here writing this blog

DSCN3939We’re all involved in trying to catch wild brown trout and grayling, but just stick with me, in this, it is my first returning post, I’ll weave it through not only with references to English Literature, Shakespeare, and modern poets, but also classic philosophy and existentialism – bear with me.
Now, don’t get on my case – I’ve had all your messages. I’m very sorry that I’ve been away, I’ve not just been ignoring the responsibility of writing, (I have been writing other things) my lack of posting was something that was nagging away at every peaceful moment; my absence is probably best explained that after fifty years of fly fishing I found myself unprepared, unceremoniously at something of a cross roads in my fly fishing life, it was a situation that I’d not quite thought through – it wasn’t a crisis, I hadn’t lost my mojo, I was just standing there, rod in hand looking around in bewilderment.


Did you ever as a child, have the fantasy of being locked in a sweet shop or chocolate factory, able to eat as much as you want without any limits or parental disapproval ?. Well, that was how I found myself. I was fishing regularly through the summer of 2012, but the previous twelve months hadn’t been good. Some very close friends, since childhood either shuffled off their mortal coil, or were gone in the blink of an eye with no warning. Immediate family were blighted with devastating long term illness. An extensively planned fishing holiday was cancelled at three weeks’ notice.
I found myself going through a 21st century equivalent of Hamlets soliloquy, and W. H. Davies poem, Leisure, (‘what is life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare’). An English Grammar School Education of the sixties came to the fore, and I was transported to a dusty dull classroom in Manchester, where a fearsome master stood, imbuing it with a deathly silence no one dare break, making us read and understand the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, some of which I now recalled, discovering it had relevance, ‘ find and preserve equanimity in the midst of conflict by following nature as a source of guidance and inspiration’
During 2012, a financial opportunity arose that would enable me to retire, earlier than many hard working people are able to do. The culmination of all these matters coming together meant that I embraced it without too much hesitation. The opportunity of being able to fish, any day, any time, for as long as I wanted was suddenly available to me. After gorging myself for a month without ever breaking my rod down, I stopped dead in my tracks. This endless availability that I’d always dreamed of through my business life was altering the mood of my fishing. It dawned on me that part of the pleasure of fishing, is the looking forward, the anticipation, the planning. Without the structure of a working life, every day becomes the same; I’d find myself travelling to the river just because I could, but without a plan of which reach to fish, or how to fish, that I could do this, ad infinitum, hit me right between the eyes. Trust me on this, – it is a shock.

How incredibly, and possibly undeservedly lucky I was, for there really isn’t a better place to be than having good health, sat on the banks of an English Chalk stream, on a summers day, just sitting, watching and listening.


I kind of got through it, I have been fishing over the past year, but I’ve become far more discerning. I’ve spent much time writing more articles, tying more flies – lots, Shrimps, tubes, templedogs, hairwings for Salmon and Sea Trout, emergers, duns and nymphs for my beautifully cunning wild brownies, and a range of succulent grubby weighted nymphs for the graceful alluring grey and lilac flanked beauties of the Wylye.


During all of this, I’ve had plenty of time contemplating what constitutes a good day, and it doesn’t always involve big fish, lots of fish or exotic locations. Keep coming by, – as way of an apology, I’ll post my secret fly for 2014 in the next week or so.


Hawthorn Fly – Springtimes best fly


Hawthorn Fly –  A step by step tying guide.

Hook:                                      #12 Hanak BL130 or similar dry hook Thread:                                   Black Uni6/0                                           Abdomen\Thorax:                 Orvis Spectrablend Black (or similar)  Wing:                                      Niche Polypropylene Yarn           Legs:                                      Knotted Pheasant Tail Fibres (Black)Hackle:                                   Black

Here I’m using the Hanak #12 dry fly hook  BL130, but others will be just as good.  Personally I don’t like this fly tied on a larger hook, but that could be just a regional thing. 

Run thread to the bend of hook

Dub on a slim noodle of black spectrablend and build abdomen and thorax, thickening as you go.

 Make it look like this.

 Cut 1” of the poly yarn, hold in place on top of the hook, while you secure it with a single wrap.  The weight of the bobbin holder will hold it in place.

Now cut two of the pheasant fibre legs and hold in place on one side, secure them with another wrap over.  Repeat for the other side, before attempting to hold all items in position, while you tighten the wrapping, ONLY TWO WRAPS,  with the dubbing on the thread.

Trim the waste ends off the legs and the yarn, and top wing of yarn.  Now its time to put the hackle in place. Choose the hackle with suitably short barbs, they mustn’t be too long or they create problems in use.  The general rule of thumb is that the barb length shouldn’t be more than one and a half times the gape of the hook. 

Strip the flume off this feather, you can just see in the picture a dart of shading, pointing towards the tip, after this, the barbs are stiffer and have a little more sparkle. Strip the shaded barbs off, and then tie the feather onto the hook, just in front of the poly yarn. 


Wind the hackle no more than three times, prefably just twice around the hook.  Secure tightly the feather before you trim off the butt, – there’s nothing more aggravating than cutting it and watching it spring into unwind mode.

 Whip the head tightly and trim thread, – if you’re a bit paranoid about the thread coming loose at the eye after cutting, either do a couple more half hitch securing knots, and dab it with the tiniest drop of Sally Hansen Hard as Nails, or smear a short length of the tying thread with very small amount of varnish on the end of a dubbing needle or cocktail stick, then finish the whipping and tie off.  

Repeat another eleven times and then go fishing, this is a fly that works early morning as well as during the afternoons. 

 FISHING TIP:  Apply floatant only to the poly yarn, legs, and the top half of the hackle.  Then, consider carefully which way the wind has been\ and is blowing, you might  discover that there are strips of water, along one of the bankings, or by back eddies, where the wind might have blown them in numbers, it is here that the fish will have been picking them off and possibly anticipating others to fall.   

Alternative:   If you struggle tying in the legs, because they’re a bit slippy, do them immediately after the dubbed thorax, once you have them firmly in place, tie in the poly yarn before completing as above, remember to have some dubbing on your thread to complete the very noticeable largish head on the fly.