Blog, news and reviews from Snowdonia Fly Fishing Guides
It's a dreary, wet day today, not the sort of weather to be working outside and with the dogs walked there's not much to do.
Even though we are getting heavy rain the river has dropped so with luck I'll get out this weekend. I've spent a couple hours tying a selection of small floss spiders to tempt a hungry grayling or two. These brightly coloured little flies stand out well in the dark water and have been successful for me previously.
I bought size 18 jig hooks as I wanted to tie some small bead headed patterns. Well that didn't work out as planned!
How difficult could it be to have uniform hook sizing? For the life of me I don't know why manufacturers make it so difficult. There is no convention other the smaller the number the bigger the hook but even that is only true until size 1 after which the rules change and a 1/0 is smaller than a 2/0 which is smaller than a 3/0 etc.
To make matters worse different brands have different sizes for the same hook number. So a size 14 or 16 from company X will be different to company Y. Some manufacturers don't even seem to have a sizing convention for their own hooks. the picture below shows hooks of the same brand but different models. Confused? You're not alone.
The BL154 size 14 is clearly bigger than the size 16, that's good, but the size 18's with a different code are bigger than the size 16, that's bonkers!
When will hook suppliers come up with a sensible sizing formula for all hooks? Answer, probably never.
Well the weather here is still dreadful, but not unusual for this time of year. It has been raining heavily, really heavily, for several days and blowing a gale. I was supposed to be on the river tomorrow but there's no chance of that now, it's best fished when the gauge is showing a height of around 300mm, it's still fishable at 450mm but downright hairy at 600mm. The gauge is currently showing 2330mm and still rising.
The mountains have water cascading down them in waterfalls and the moors are saturated with floodwater turning tracks into temporary rivers. Even the dogs are reluctant to go out in it.
So it's back to the vice to tie some more flies, well what else is there to do!
In my last post I said I was using up stocks of wild bird feathers and wouldn't use them again once my current stock is gone. Well rummaging through my boxes of materials I think I've got enough to last me for this lifetime and the next :0(
I've been using a golden plover skin today an old friend gave me as his eyesight is failing and hands are not as steady as they once were.
Below are a few of the spiders I've tied today on size 12 or 14 hooks.
Well the rivers are too high and fast to fish and the lake trout season doesn't start until next week. So to kill a bit of time I've been at the vice tying spiders. Not that I need any more, I've tied dozens of them over the winter.
Most wild birds are seeing dramatic declines in their numbers so I'm using up stocks of wild bird capes and instead will only use farmed birds in future. The top two pictures are various spider patterns but I've used a Chevron Hackles, Sunburst, hen cape for the hackle on all of them.
The bottom two have a golden plover hackle, available from Cookshill, and a Krystal Flash rib over a grey dubbing body.
I hope to take them for a swim at the weekend.
This is a simple, effective dry fly pattern that imitates many flies. I tie in a range of sizes from hook size 20 up to 14.
Black thread, black sheet foam, small stiff cock hackle.
Cut a strip of foam 2-3mm wide, depending on hook size. quickly flame the end and squeeze to flatten. Tie in tail (optional) Tie foam onto top of hook with pointed end over the eye. Tie in hackle. Fold foam over the hackle and tie in.
That's all there is to it.
I usually tie spiders on #12 or #14 hooks but occasionally tie up a few on size 18's. these are tied in a range of colours and all have a starling hackle.
Dead easy to tie, perfect for tempting wild brownies and very effective on heavily fished waters.
For quite some time I've been looking at various fly tying vices. There are so many out there the choice is overwhelming.
My old vice frustrates the hell out of me. The jaws are adjusted by a screw that draws them into a collet. it's okay if I was tying loads of flies on the same size hook, but that's not what I do. I'm constantly changing the hook size so have to fiddle about to adjust the jaws each time, a really rubbish system.
I've been using the Regal Medallion for a couple of months and it is stonkingly good and so easy to use it allows me to tie flies quicker, it's has made me realise how time consuming my old vice was.
The Regal Medallion is a side lever vice so no adjustment needed, ever, brilliant! Okay it isn't cheap, and there are cheaper side lever vices out there, but you get what you pay for and this is a serious piece of kit that will last a lifetime. It's simple, robust and heavy with few moving parts or gimmicks, just a good quality, solid, well made, nicely finished tool and I recommend it.
The full range of Regal Vices are available from www.flytyingcompany.co.uk
During the BFFI, I spent some time at the Fly Tying Company stand. James and his team were happy to help all visitors to their stand and give good advice, always with a smile. This family run company sells an extensive range of fly tying materials and tools as well as an ever expanding selection of fly fishing tackle, accessories and clothing.
I was delighted to see they now stock Trout Hunter tippet material as this isn't easy to get hold of in the UK (I'll be posting my review shortly).
Well done to all at The Fly Tying Company.
There are times when larger flies just don't work. I rarely use anything bigger that a size 14 and even these are occasionally to big. Over the last couple of weeks there have been a few times when smaller dries are needed.
This is when gnat patterns come in to their own.
These griffiths gnats are tied on size 20 & 22 Daiichi 1110. I like these hooks as they have a straight eye, that is big enough the see even on smaller sizes.
The hackle is Natures Spirit cape tops, different colours are available but I've use grizzle (and purple for the variant) on the ones below. These are perfect for hackles on small flies
The body is peacock herl.
These are great little flies on river and lake for wild brownies and graying and are quick and easy to tie.
Now I start by admitting the flies I tie are not works of art (and I greatly admire those that tie amazing patterns) they are functional and tied to catch fish.
So what do I look for in a good wet fly? A few things come to mind: size, colour and contrast, and movement. So when tying flies I choose materials that provide these fundamentals and are easy to use:
In terms of size I tend to use size 14 -18 hooks (I find smaller flies work well). Hook sizes frustrate the hell out of me, but that's another story! And I try to be sparing with the dressing often using just a few turns of thread and a hackle, as in spider patterns.
Colour and contract are important especially in clear water. I like to tie flies that are not too garish but have a small hot spot or a strand or fritz to make the fly more visible without being ostentatious!
Movement too is key is getting a fish interested and a nice soft hen hackle and sometimes a few tail fibres can achieve this. In deeper water where light diminishes and colours are of secondary importance movement becomes paramount.
The result is a simple pattern but one with plenty of interest to whet a fishes appetite.
So my advice is to keep wets simple but interesting.
A well known fly fishing guide and instructor John can often be found fishing or guiding on the Welsh Dee or passing his knowledge to others at game fairs and country shows.
guided fly fishing in North Wales
Guided fly fishing trips on rivers, streams and upland lakes in Snowdonia. and surrounding areas of North Wales.
Fishing for summer & winter grayling and wild brown trout.in the spectacular, tranquil countryside that is Snowdonia National Park.
Fly fishing lessons in North Wales
Fly fishing and casting lessons for beginners. Casting fault analysis, single handed spey, slack line and presentation casting tuition for more experienced fly fishers.
Develop your watercraft skills on freestone rivers and upland lakes.