Friday, 24 March 2017

Almost There

With the Brown Trout season in Yorkshire only just opening today it gave me this week to tie off a few more flies in preparation for the forthcoming season.
The rivers are all in flood with the snow and rain we have had for most of the week so the trout are quite safe from anglers for another few days I suspect.

Going through my storage boxes to replenish the fly boxes for the forthcoming season I realised a good clean out was required.

and after a good sort out the boxes were soon reduced to a few to fit into my waistcoat for the river.

However as always we can never have enough flies but in this case it was flies for another member of my family who no longer ties but still fishes.

and the last couple of nights have seen me at the vice after hectic days at work so what better way to chill out & relax than a few flies in preparation for when the tout start to look up away from the nymphs.

A few #16 mixed parachutes.

Tomorrow is the AGM of one of the clubs I belong to and its always enjoyable to meet up with friends I haven't seen all winter and afterwards its a nice dinner in the pub to finish off the meeting, what could be better, and always a raffle which my contribution this year is 3 dry fly furled leaders and 3 wet fly / nymph furled leaders.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Appleby Olive

A pattern which I had heard about last season but never got the opportunity to see or use, I happened to mention to Steven when I was over in Cumbria for the Furled Leader tuition as I knew he had caught a couple of lovely fish on it including his personal best river brown trout a 4lbs + fish.

I finally got all the ingredients together for myself and got a couple tied up in preparation for the new season in just over a week's time here in Yorkshire

The Appleby Olive:
Hook  #16 Hends BL154.
Bead copper coated tungsten 3mm.
Tail: Paintbrush fibres
Body: olive dubbing blend, basically a mix of dyed rabbit and squirrel (golden olive and cinnamon) with a little red, black, olive and peacock glister and/or ice dub for added flash.
Rib: Madeira metallic: (from a sewing shop)

The dubbing can be purchased direct from Andrew Ellis the creator of the Appleby Olive, I contacted Andrew via his Facebook page Andrew's Scruffy Dubbing  and together with another couple of dubbing's they arrived with a nice letter in a couple of days.

The  metallic Madeira I managed to purchase from my local sewing shop via their online page

another pattern I tied up using some of the other dubbing I purchased

Saturday, 11 March 2017


After a week of practise, a few broken threads with some new tools / materials added to my armoury, I can finally say I know how to fully make Furled Leaders.

The spring scissors I particularly like so much so I bought 2 pairs as they are ideal for Fly Tying too.

Its been a week of mixed emotions with a few furled leaders almost complete only to loose it at the very end when tying the shorb loops, or a few threads to snap especially in the making of the indicator ones but as I said last week practise makes perfect and today I  got Steven to sign off on 6 furled leaders I have made & presented as graduation ones.

2 normal green furled leaders for dry fly fishing, 2 red and yellow leaders to be used as indicators when fishing nymphs and finally 2 green with red tips for fishing wet fly / nymphs.

I have to say Im pretty chuffed with them and all made by my very own hands will make it even more satisfying when I use them to catch fish with.

The triangle is complete of handmade items for fishing with.

Dont worry I wont be changing from The Flee & Float to incorporate the furled leaders I just wanted to learn another craft associated with fishing. Its been an absolute pleasure and honour learning this craft from Steven and I would like to publically thank him via the way of the blog for teaching me another craft.

This week I also took delivery of this season's
T-shirts which I like to wear whilst out & about with my fishing adventures, with the small logo on the front & larger on the back.

Thanks again to Barrie & Karen at BFGraphics
who continue to do me proud.

A graphic which caught my wife's eye some months ago whilst surfing the net, was also made into a T-shirt and once again Karen worked her magic.

The wife giving me a nice reality check....

Monday, 6 March 2017

A Furling We Shall Go....

Yesterday I left the Dales and headed over the Pennine's to that land known as Cumbria, thats the bit of land just south west of (Gods Country) Scotland, To meet up with my longtime friend Steven Dawson, AKA Mr Trout as some know him by.
As discussed in an earlier post I've been using Steven's furled leaders for more years than I care to remember and wouldn't go anywhere else as I class Steven as the best furled leader maker in the UK and is widely known for this in the Fly fishing circles of UK & abroad.

The invitation has always stood for him to teach me how to make them, but with most things we never got around to doing it before, but this time we made it happen as we have been discussing floats and an array of other things via emails etc but we really needed to get together to extract the grey matter from each other's brains over various tactics. The float making side of things didn't take that long and after a few pressies from me to Steven we got down to the leader making.

Steven is very much old school and has the patience of a saint as the first couple of furled leaders I attempted ended up in the bin with broken threads, and the laughs were just as plentiful.
Remembering that furled leaders are simply that, a load of thread furled together to form a leader, wound at speed with the aid of a drill/dremel.

The tools were very much familiar to what Im used to using with fly tying and the use of baiting needles for when I was a river coarse angler.

After mastering the furling it was the shorb loops that flummoxed me next, as my big fat fingers are not designed to work with twelve small threads tightly woven together and a few threads were missed in the creation but after a few more tries it became second nature and the old saying of practise makes perfect certainly came to fruition.

The rewards of Steven's tuition & patience, my own handmade furled leaders.

Steven kindly showed me an array of styles from the normal shorb loop to furling in leader rings and sighters when fishing with nymphs and also the manufacture of nylon furled leaders.

After a lovely lunch made by Steven's wife Irene we concentrated on practising the techniques learned and before I knew it I had made enough furled leaders to last me a couple of years.

It didn't just end there as Steven then set about making me a large furled leader board to create my own furled leaders and before I knew it I was practising on the one he had just made me to take away, it certainly saved me the time of looking for the necessary materials to manufacture it myself, and if in future I want to make smaller ones then its the same design but scaled down on a smaller board.

The 6ft + board now home and with a few added labels as reminders to myself ready to go, It will sit nicely fixed to the top of my desk to allow me to practise, and be stored away when not in use.

(Good job I listened to the wife and cleaned my room & desk)

Before heading home another cup of coffee and a choccy biscuit whilst discussing fly tying and a few pattern I was familiar with but wanted to clarify with him, mainly the Appleby Olive Nymph and a few extracted from his fly box were placed in my hand together with some dubbing to create my own.

Appleby Olive Nymphs.

Before we knew it , it was time for me to leave and after loading up the car with all the gear Steven had graciously given to me to make my own furled leaders I had one last pressie for him in the way of a bottle of my Sloe whisky which I knew he would enjoy and off I set on the trip home still buzzing from all the new techniques learned from throughout the day, something I wont forget in a very long time.

Another dark art learned and ticked off on my to do list, I know Old Peter the man who taught me to fish and make my own tackle would very much approve that I had learned from another master of his trade.

( an email arrived last night confirming that both Steven & Irene had indulged in a whisky and approve of it, so to sleep I went very contented in the knowledge)

Friday, 3 March 2017

Never Too Old to Learn New Skills!

Well another week flashes past and its the weekend, With preparations well in hand for the trout season, Im heading away this weekend, except its not to any of my usual haunts which as you can see could be a number of Dales, but not on this occasion.

Im heading over to the posh part of the Pennine's to meet up with an old friend who is going to attempt to teach me the intricate ins & outs of  how to make my own furled leaders for dry fly fishing. The master of furled leaders is opening his workshop to me.

I've been using Steven's furled leaders for more years than I care to remember, and for dry fly fishing there is nothing finer than one of these leaders combined with my cane rod.

Topping up the dries box again last night with a couple of emerger patterns.

Yellow emerger #18

Olive emerger #18

Whatever your up to over the weekend, enjoy.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Orders of the Wife

With no fishing now until the new trout season starts, it was a weekend of tying, tidying and cleaning...the last being under strict orders from the Boss herself, especially when she writes please clean me in the dust at the bottom of the computer screen, you know its time to get the Mr sheen out!

A couple of early season dry flies tied which I wouldn't go without


Pheasant tail 

Ready for Inspection, cleanest I've seen it for a while, there is normally  bits of balsa, feathers and all sorts covering the desk just depends what Im working on.

Books actually do fit in the bookcase if put away properly....lol.

Anyway probably wont stay this way for long especially after I return from my furled leader tuition weekend next weekend I have planned with an old friend.

Friday, 24 February 2017

The Awards

This weekend we have the Oscars in the USA taking place, we had the Bafta's a few days ago but thats matters not as we have scored some great results in.

The Fish and Fly 2016 Fly Fishing Industry Awards


“LTC are over the moon to win this coveted Gold medal award, many thanks to Fly Fishing Forum for making this possible. The cause went from strength to strength due to the total generosity of forum members, and the very hard work put in by all the wonderful people in the back ground without who today’s total of over £50.000 could never have been achieved. You know who you are, thank you so much.”Steven Dawson.



As a proud supporter of this charity Its great to see that something that started off from very humble beginnings has now raised nearly £60.000 for Cancer charities. Well done to all involved.


And I couldn't be more chuffed for my good friend Munro Reid, who combined with his late dad John and his mother they have made this place what it is today. Well done mate richly deserved and your dad would be very very proud.



“I would like to dedicate this win to my late father who put his heart and soul in to this fishery creating his own little piece of Caithness here in central Scotland. I am sure he would be very pleased to hear that his hard work and angling morals have been appreciated by so many. Quality over quantity has been our moral since we opened 25 years ago and will remain our drive in to the future.”Munro Reid.



Sunday, 19 February 2017

Calls of Nature

I decided no matter what I needed to get out onto the river today, no matter what the weather conditions.
My knee is still sore & swollen so opted for an easy walk stretch to fish but wanted to nip to another stretch just for a look at something from last year I had forgotten about and needed to collect, I arrived at the non fishing stretch just before 10am and headed downstream to where I wanted to go, on route passing the snowdrops which are now in full bloom all along the river.

The river looked in fine fettle but there was a very strong downstream wind which was biting cold.

I found and retrieved what I was looking for, something I wanted for a project in the summer but needed to collect now before the leaves come back onto the trees & bushes

Walking back along the riverside path I caught glimpse of a wood pecker before it disappeared from view but I guess that answered who lives in a hole like this.

Driving back the short distance to my chosen stretch just after 11am I wandered the short distance to the river and the wind was still biting cold so I knew it was going to be a day of fighting that and trying to find spots with a bit of shelter out the wind. The river was clear and up on its normal levels, it looked pristine fishing conditions all be it the wind was dampening things.

Walking along the high bank the gorse was in full bloom, I headed further along the bank and dropped down out of the biting wind, as soon as you were out the wind it was a glorious day, I sat and watched LDO hatching off the water in the morning sun where the water was sheltered. a couple of kingfishers were darting up and down the river and across in the field opposite a couple of Hares were facing up to each other, by the look of things mother nature was well under way making her changes for the spring.

First couple of casts in the faster streams produced a few nips from smaller fish and then I managed to just hook then loose a fish almost immediately as it took the fly as I was drawing it back to recast. 
Another couple of casts and a small grayling came to hand.

The next few casts produced another Grayling of similar size before all went quiet and I headed upstream.

As I came through the small copse of willow I could see a couple of Oyster catchers on the Gravel bank next to a goose thats been on the stretch for about 3 months now but cant fly due to wing damage, I managed to get to a place where I could take a semi decent picture without disturbing them.

Walking upstream into the biting wind again certainly woke you up and reminded me it was still February.

I never touched a fish at all in the stretch where the wind was blowing downstream and it was only once I was in the shelter of the big fir wood that I saw fish movements again.

Casting to where I seen a swirl I hooked into an angry trout almost immediately and with a few flicks of its tail it came right out the water and slipped the hook all I saw was the bow wave in its wake as it headed across the shallow water downstream.

I noticed as I trekked back downstream that the pussy willow are budding, a bit of colour appearing on bare branches, It wont be long until they have broken clean out of their bud cases and further along the bank the wax caps are taking advantage of the one of the logs.

I fished on for another hour but nothing more came to the flies so decided to call it a day as my knee was throbbing and the wading in the cold water wasnt improving anything.

One snowdrop that captured my attention today, purely for the size of the flower. Two single blooms in the middle of nowhere and the flowers were twice if not three times as big as any others I saw during the day.

It certainly was nice to be back out after a few weeks off but I think with the way my knee is and the Grayling season almost over that I might resign myself to calling it a day for the Grayling for this year as they are starting to think about other things, It was the 19th February last year that I stopped after seeing Black Grayling & in 2015 it was 28th February so we are definitely in that period of time and with it being a mild winter and spring happening that few weeks in advance its best to play safe & leave them be, am not the sort of angler who can see the signs but resigns themselves to continue fishing and call it sport.

I've had a fair to good Grayling season this year and stuck with the fly rod for the full duration, not once did any trotting get done, but who knows I may trot a few small red worms in the early days of the trout season until it warms up a bit.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Jinglers all the Way

Not being a fly angler who takes masses of fly boxes onto the river each time I go out I tend only to take what I think I need to match the hatch for that particular time of year but I always take a few flies I trust each year to get a few fish and one of these patterns has to be the Jingler. 
It has taken for me in the past many a nice fish, a few variations which I tie each year and always work well for me.
With the Trout season fast approaching I decided to make a start on a few of the Jingler patterns I like to have in the box.

 Crimson body Jingler

  Tan body Jingler

Olive body Jingler

Wont be long till one of these are tied onto the tippet and casting upstream to a rising trout.  

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Almost Over

No fishing again this week, my leg still a bit sore and the river was up and dirty so I couldn't see the point of maybe making things worse in conditions which were already not good.

With the Grayling season almost over, I may get one last days fishing for them as I like to leave the fish alone when I see the first signs of them spawning, Im not an angler who has got to go out and chase fish which are starting to breed just for the sake of a days fishing.

I decided to spend the afternoon pottering around with a few ongoing projects and tied a few nymphs just to see me through the end of the grayling season & into the trout season. I have to say this Grayling season I have stuck with the nymph tactics, and not once trotted a float for a couple of reasons.

I wanted to improve my nymph tactics which I have done and remembering stuff I had forgotten and also learning new tactics & the weather in my opinion has not warranted me to trot my floats.

There is nothing better than a crisp winters morning with snow on the ground and watching a float you have made yourself trot down the stream, but this year it just hasn't happened, the winter we were promised has not materialised, so the split cane trotting rods, centre pins and floats will soon be stored away for another year.

last of the nymphs.

a few different coloured butt black nymphs, these have always worked well for me and almost always taken early season trout when its still a bit cold for the dry flies to hatch.

and first of the dry flies

a couple of grey jingles a very productive fly for me since I first tied them up a couple of years ago, mainly tied in brown I started experimenting and swapped out the brown cock hackle for a badger hackle and combined with the grey body found them to work well instead of  fishing a kites imperial, the partridge hackle adding extra movement to the flies.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

This Weeks Up's & Down's

As regular blog readers will have noticed there was no fishing trip last week, this was due to a slight downward spiral I had last Saturday afternoon when my knee collapsed on me in totally the wrong spot in the house...the top of the stairs, yep head first from the top to the bottom of the stairs ending up on a heap at the front door.

Thankfully I didn't break anything but bruised and in severe pain there was no way I could have got onto the river so Sunday Karen had the pleasure of my company for another full day...lol, as the week has went on Its still painful to walk but nowhere as bad as it was.

That was the down side of the week, thankfully the rest of the week was a bit better and had a few better things to speak of.

With no fishing and restricted to the chair I decided to break out the table lathe and  with some Yew I had lying around in my odds & sods box I turned a display float for something to do, something I haven't done since 2015,  so it was nice to get the chisels back out and give them a dust off which I finished off each night after work with the lacquering.

Turned from a block of Irish Yew and mounted on a Yew Branch with a few wraps of silk to finish it off.

Im undecided where its final resting place will be yet as I have a few people in mind who I might send it to.

Back in September of last year I harvested the sloes off the bushes up the Dale as I always do each year.

It was time to decant the first bottle of 2016 sloe whisky, so earlier today I looked out the earliest of the 6 bottled kilner jars from last year dated the 30 Sep and strained out the sloes.

The finished product which I will saver & enjoy over the upcoming trout season

The other day I came home and was reunited with an old friend.

This is a box I made up for a charity auction, the box & its contents raised £105 for charity, the new owner was a fly fisherman who wanted to try his hand at trotting for Grayling.

3 cork trotting floats

3 balsa trotting floats

It turns out the gentleman in question has never used them as he said they looked too good to use and has never got around to trying his hand at trotting so returned them to me to be used for another auction or charity event of my choosing.
A very generous gesture and Im sure they will finally end up on a river somewhere for someone to enjoy as I had made them for.
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