Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Dirty Weeker


Tonight as I look out my tying room window the picture is of a winter wonderland well not quite as after all I'm from Airdrie. My car lies buried beneath quite an accumulation of snow and my thoughts have been drifting back to hot summer nights fishing wild Scottish Lochs so I thought I would share a fly I had success with at Loch Watten back in July, the very amusingly named Dirty Weeker.
I have wondered for some time about where the name comes from,Well it apparently is a corruption of a phrase the evolved during the town of Wick's Herring days. It was not as you might think a derogatory term which pokes fun at people who dinnae wash. The original word was "Dirdie" a Caithness word meaning busy. Over time it was corrupted to dirty and somehow adopted by locals endearingly referring to each other as "Dirty Wickers" meaning a real Wicker.
The Dirty Weeker is a fly that originates from Caithness in the extreme far North of Scotland.This pattern was devised by Hugo Ross from Wick who has an angling business in the Northern seaport. The fly is synonymous with the angling tradition of wet fly-fishing at Loch Watten, arguably Scotland’s finest venue for traditional loch style fishing. I have seen various different fly patterns which claim to be Dirty Weekers so I was not entirely sure about the exact dressing therefore I made a few enquiries on some angling forums and after searching through some angling books the overall collective opinion was that the original dressing was as the above pic shows. Hot orange tippets, claret seals fur body, oval gold rib, a cock hackle with an orange hen hackle in front and of course black tying thread on a size ten or twelve hook.
Stan Headley recommends this pattern in his excellent Loch Fishers Bible for fishing at Loch Watten which is as good a reason as any to have a supply of them in your fly box.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Essential Fly Tying Competition!


A couple of months ago I participated in a tying competition in the national magazine... Fly Fishing and Fly Tying magazine, called The Essential Challenge. The format of the competition was that the tyer had to send off to a fly tying company called Essential Fly UK for the Free! tying materials. Then obviously tye an original dressing with the materials provided.The comp is divided into monthly rounds where there was three winners for each round, then at the end of the comp all the round winners will enter into the Essential Fly Final, for want of a better phrase and then from the successful patterns an over all winner will be chosen and the winner will be given a £500 gift voucher to spend at Essential Fly and on top of that the winning pattern may go into mass production and the lucky winner will receive 5% in commission on sales.
Well then, much to my surprise a parcel arrived at my house yesterday and once I opened it I learned that I was one of the winners of round two of the comp and was pleased to see that I had received a very nice practical fly box along with an accompanying letter congratulating me on my success. A photograph of my fly along with a description and comments from Magnus Angus will be in next months fly fishing & Flytying magazine. Which is just as well as I have a vague recollection of my dressing but cant remember exactly what the dressing was , I do know that it incorporated straggle fritz. I remember giving my last example of the fly to my angling friend Scott while out on the boat Hillend but unfortunately he lost the fly in a fight with one of the Hillend's resident brown trout. So you can imagine how pleased I am and how much I am looking forward to seeing my fly in next months magazine. Once I see what the correct dressing was I will tye up a few and get a couple of pics published here on my blog.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Synthetic Hackle Material


I recently purchased an interesting synthetic hackle material with a brand name of Krystal Hackle. It comes in an assortment of colours. I wasn't sure how best to use the material I just got two bags of it in claret and golden olive colours.I wasn't happy with my first experiments with it and just resigned it to the rest of my kit which never gets utilized at the bottom of my tying trunk. Then one night when I was tying my mind turned to this stuff again as I really thought it could give a very subtle hint of flash if used in the correct manner in conjunction with natural feather fibres. When I fist experimented with it I didn't like the way it looked on the hook it just looked a complete mess but once I got the hang of it I realized that after every turn I had to sweep it in a backward motion, then after about four turns I then tyed on a natural partridge hackle all be it dyed in a dark olive colour. The result was the above fly. I am pleased with the results as it does give a very good hint of flash but very importantly not in an overpowering manner as some patterns tend to be. As ever the Hillend trout will be the best judges of it's effectiveness. Roll on March.

Monday, 15 November 2010

The Loch Fishers Bible


Anyone who knows me will be aware of my love of angling books especially a publication with a Scottish flavour. In my possession I have many which I treasure from such angling luminaries as Sandison,Stewart,McEawan, Robertson, Bridget Reid, Sharp, Inglis Hall,Stoddart and Lawrie to name but a few but one man I have for some reason overlooked up until now is Headley, yes I do have his Flies of Scotland book but up until today when a parcel from a well known online book company landed through my letter box I didn't have .... The Loch Fishers Bible. Which has been folly on my part . Of course I have heard from others about this book but didn't realize until this afternoon what I had been missing.I have had a look through some of its pages this afternoon and this evening and I can tell already that this is a valuable reference source for my fishing library. It has a lifetimes worth of knowledge within its pages and I have grew very fond of this work already. I like his style. The following should give an insight into his style of thinking. I would like to quote a couple of paragraphs from the book which I am in total agreement with after hearing about the myth which I believe to be false about the stocking of Loch Watten with trout from Loch Leven.
1... Take trout from Leven put them into a black peat hag with no indigenous trout population and , lo and behold in no time at all we have typical highland tarn trout which are stunted, red spotted and as black as your boots.
2....Take stunted, red spotted black trout from an unproductive water anywhere in the Highlands, put them into a productive water such as Leven and Michty Me, in no time at all you've got fit silvery trout that would grace any basket.
Like I say have just started looking through this book and I like what I have read so far. My attention was drawn to the chapters concerning Scottish wet fly patterns and it has been like a whole new world of understanding has opened up before me. . These dark nights of the winter are not going to be so bleak, now that I am being enlightened by Stan.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Fishing For Poetry


Over the years I have become a fan of the poems of Norman McCaig. My first introduction to McCaig was by way of a book of his poems borrowed from the local library. Inside the book was a rather splendid CD of a collection of his poems recited by the great man himself which I like to listen to sometimes on my mp3 player especially when I'm fishing at a remote highland location.
You may have noticed a few months ago on my blog I did an article about Andrew Greig's deep and meaningful book The Loch of the Green Corrie. Well then such was the popularity of the book and the subject matter there in the BBC have got to be praised for producing a couple of excellent programmes for radio and TV. The subject of the programmes is of course, Norman McCaig arguably Scotland's finest post Burns poet. The radio programme was broadcast last Saturday morning and is still available on iplayer here. www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00vrwvn/Out_of_Doors_06_11_2010
The TV production titled ,Fishing for Poetry is broadcast tonight on BBC2 Scotland at 9pm. I hope they release a DVD of this programme as it's going to be the most interesting thing I have seen on TV for some time and would like to watch it over and over at my leisure. There is no need for me wax lyrically about the content of the show as the BBC are good at that kind of thing as you can see for yourself here where there is also a short video clip on Billy Connolly.... http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vtxh2
Just thought I would give my readers and followers a heads up on these programmes as I am certain that anyone who enjoys poetry and fishes in wild places such as the Scottish Highlands will really enjoy the radio and TV shows. Please leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the show.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Golden Plover Spider


I have been busy at the bench tonight tying various patterns. I thought I would share this very simple to tie pattern incorporating a golden Plover Hackle. This style of fly lends itself to river fishing but I have had great success with these in varoius colours etc on various Lochs and hill lochs. Spider patterns or as the yanks are fond of calling them....soft hackle flies have a great tradition in fly fishing history dating back centuries.It has to be said if this style has stood the test of such vast time I see no reason why we should continue ti tie and fish these old dtyle dressings as they were originaly tied. Of course some tyers might add some modern synthetics or flash etc to sex them up but I believe the success of these flies is probably down to their simple and basic dressings. These are one style of fly that should perhaps not be tinkered with.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Mallard and Claret


Tied a few of these last night. My favourite style. I really do enjoy tying traditional Scottish and Irish style wet flies. This pattern is a variation on a theme. You may have noticed that when I'm tying I very rarely tie exact copies of tried and trusted patterns I like to tinker with the pattern a little,not too much though as that would render the fly a completely different pattern altogether. The above dressing is basically a Mallard and claret but I have incorporated SLF dubbing as a substitute for seals fur. Its not that I'm against using seals fur dubbing or the like it's just that I actually like the translucency of the synthetic material and dare I say it might even be better than the original natural fur. You will have to excuse the colours in the photo as they as they have taken on a form of their own and I cant quite get them to look like they do if you had to actually see the fly for yourself in your hand. I think I will have to invest in one of those wee portable mini studio set ups for taking photos of flies. There is plenty of advice and information on these mini studios on various fishing forums etc. They are not expensive to buy and can even be set up by oneself with a little bit of imagination and initiative. Anyway I hope you like the look of this pattern and have a go at tying it and fishing it, you might even want to make your own adjustments to it which would be the correct thing to do in the true spirit of fly tying.

Hook : Kamazan size 10
Thread : Red Uni 8/0
Tail : Pheasant Tippets
Body ; Claret SLF
Rib : Silver Lurex
Wing : Folded Bronze Mallard
Hackle : Black Hen

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Four Flies


I have been busy at the bench for the last couple of days using some of my newly acquired materials which I purchased at the Tying Fair at the weekend. Above are a few examples of my latest work inspired by some of the tyers at Stoke. Top left is a Blue Zulu. Top right is a Kate McLaren variant incorporating a new red game hen cape I purchased from Dun Fly at BFFI.Bottom left is a variant of a sea trout fly I came across being tied by Steffan Jones at the Tying theatre.Bottom right is a fly I tyed using some new thread I got from Lakeland tying materials called sheer and hen Pheasant wing acquired from Cookshill. Still got a bit of a wait to give them a soaking though as there are still 131 days to the start of the season. I am finally getting into my winter tying mode now and fully enjoying my time at the vice. Think I will be buying a new fox box this weekend which I will start to fill and hopefully fill by the start of the season.

Monday, 1 November 2010

BFFI Trentham Gardens 2010


I travelled down to Trentham Gardens for the biggest fly tying event of the year with Elvis Costello, Paul Weller and my brother as companions. Well not quite, “Wild Wood” and “My aim is True” were the cd's of choice for the in car entertainment while my brother was the driver as we motored down the M6 to the BFFI at Stoke.
We got there just after opening time. We paid our entry fee and were immediately accosted by a whole bunch of folk thrusting flyers, cd roms and all manner of leaflets and brochures into our hands.
No matter how much I tried I could not resist a browse round all the trade stands before spending some time in the Tyer’s Row Tent. The first stall I halted at was Coch - y- Bondhu Books. I could have spent a fortune at this stand but I resisted and anyway they didn’t have the book I was looking for which was Stan Headley's , Loch Fishers Bible.
As I wanderd among retailers such as Lakeland, Pearsalls, Cookshill etc etc I noticed a few well known faces such as Mike Harding, Oliver Edwards, and Dean Andrews who plays D.S Carling in the BBC drama, Life on Mars. They appeared to be enjoying themselves as I was too even though my money was dissapearing out my wallet faster than a hungry trout snatching at a Clan Chief in Hillend Loch, as I gave into temptation at the vast array of fur, thread and feather on offer.
Wallet emptied I made my way in among the flytyers and demonstartion theatre. It was a pleasure to mingle among the fly tyers from all across Europe and the USA. I have a great regard for traditional wet fly tying so I searched out Trevor Jones and George Barron for a one to one chat about tying my favourite style of flies. George was great, he talked about his next article in the FFFT mag and also spoke about his experience in the tying theatre last year. They passed on some usefull information to me too and also tyed a couple for flies for me too. I was really impressed by the tyers who were creating Classic salmon flies , they were real works of art. The huge pike flies I saw were amazing as were the realistic creations which you would have swore blind were the actual insects.
While my brother went of to join the Fltyers Guild I joined the public in the Tying Theatre where I watched demos from Paul Little, Steffan Jones and Oliver Edwards. Paul Little’s demo was interesting but was mainly concerning salmon fly techniques although he explained these tips and tricks could also be incorporated into wet fly tying too. The Welsh lad Steffan Jones tied sea trout flies. I really enjoyed his demo. He appeared to be a natural at instructing as he was as excellent at explaining etc as he was at tying. We later found out when we were talking to him in tyers row that this was the first that he had ever did such a tying demonstration. You would never have thought so as he came across very good indeed.
Olivers Ewdards closed the tying theatre with his demos. Very good as ever but I did get the feeling he was going through the motions as he came across a bit blazae , maybe it was just me. I suppose he is getting on a bit, He’s been there and done it kind of thing. He did say that this would probably be his last time at such an event.
I had one last jaunt round the retail stands before we departed and headed for home. Will I be back next year? I’m not sure. I did enjoy the experince but that’s two year on the trot and it’s a lomg way to go to watch blokes tying flies. Next year the event is being switched to a different location and it will be happening in the summer. I am of the opinion that this kind of event is best suited to the winter once the fishing season is over.
As I sit and finish off this article I can see , out of the corner of my eye a whole bunch of new tying materials sitting on my tying bench brought back from Stoke which I am looking forward to using and sharing the results with on my blog.