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The Black Francis

Start of the new fly dressing year at the Lakeland Flydressers Guild, the first fly in the salmon class is the Black Francis. A nice fly to dress, my preference being cock pheasant side tails for the short feelers, they are nice and straight. the head instead of coloured varnish is Glo-Brite floss, shade 10 with two coats of Hard as nails.

Tight lines




Once in a while along comes a little gem of a reel. This ABU 5000 not an uncommon model (some would say it is an ABU 5000B, the B model meaning that it has a clicker). In mint condition it is a lovely reel. So what is special about this reel (other than the price of £80). Look at the number on the reel foot, 127100. This is a lot number (reels in the same batch will have the same foot number). The number means that the reel was made in December 1971 and has a version number of 00. This is unusual in that the ABU factory was I think closed at this time of year. Anyway, it is the lowest lot numbered 5000 that we have.

You may be thinking we need to get a life, but life would not be the same without ABU reels …….

Tight Lines (pun intended)



The Logie (The Salmon Fly, G M Kelson)

Two dressings for the Logie are given in the usual texts, this one is by Kelson.  I like the claret body and also the addition of Jungle Cock cheeks. the wing in this fly is Swan, as called for in the original dressing. the head looks quite nice (we always strive for a small neat head on a fly. the hook, a Ron Reinhold and it looks great. I have dressed the body short, I like the appearance it gives. Working with Bronze Mallard is fun, in this instance, the mount worked second time (were all human after all). my preference is for the Mallard to come short of the length of the wing, a transition topping being my preferred option for the tail. Again a simple fly, but still skill needed to execute the dressing well. Were I to dress the fly again, I would look for slightly smaller and narrower cheeks.

Happy New Year to all fly dressers out there.

Warm Regards



The Gold Sylph (Pryce-Tannatt) …

The plan view …

Simple salmon flies dressed well have their own unique charm. The Gold Sylph, although not complicated in construction, the command of the once fearsome Bronze Mallard is a skill worth attaining. One of a few Spey type flies with tinsel bodies, this little beauty is well worth the effort to dress. A transition topping for the tail supports the tail veiling  well giving a three dimensional effect. The “soft loop” technique is the way to tame the mallard. Choosing GP red breast feathers that are even i curvature and even on both sides of the rachis is the key. I have extended the GP throat past the yellow hackle to and a little balance to the length of the tail. And last but not least, strive for that perfect head, it gives the fly a little class. the plan view shows how the mallard should lie along the hook shank.

Hope you enjoyed looking at the fly I certainly enjoyed dressing it. Were it not for patience in  answering many awkward questions, I would not now be part of this wonderful craft. Thank you Marvin.

Merry Christmas to all my friends out there have a great day.

Warm regards


Looking forward to the new season, can’t wait…

Always a great time to look forward to the new fishing season with the new Orvis Helios rods; Christmas Eve and a great view of Carl side and Dodd from Scarness Bay. A great bay to fish, it can be so unpredictable  my biggest fish on the lure from the bay is 21.25 lbs and the biggest on the fly being 17 lb 1 oz. Tim and I have fond memories fishing here and we always have a laugh when we blank in Scarness (more often than not). The best thing is that the earliest weed bed of the year shows up here. Oh by the way, the box in the front is our lure box, full of goodies to tempt the Water Wolf.

Off to dress a fly from Pryce -Tannatt, watch this space ……..

Slack lines


Pau Amerillo box …

Christmas Eve usually involves a little wood turning. Great place to be is the shed with your thoughts. Quite a nice wood to turn, Pau Amerillo is a nice close grained wood for making small boxes. What little grain there is (it amounts to a brown mark) is nicely matched here and the shape is pleasing to the eye. The finish is wax followed by a whirl with the buffing wheel.

Merry Christmas


The Lady dressed by Anne …..

The Lady dressed by Paul ….

Spey flies leave the fly dresser with many unanswered questions regarding proportion. These two examples were dressed using the interpretation of the  fly dresser; neither of which may be correct but, in the absence of the fly police, they look great. Once again, the pupil has “done great”, bronze mallard is a difficult material at the best of times; soft loops are the order of the day. The wings “like the keel of an upturned racing boat”  (Pryce-Tannatt) is the order of the day. the head on the first fly although long is in proportion with the streamlined look of the fly. am I proud of the pupil, you bet, a great effort ……





The Trewern Tickler (Anne)


The Trewern Tickler (Paul)

Two very nice flies considering the difficult materials in the fly. As usual, Anne’s hackling is high of quality. The bronze mallard work is not bad either. The narrower slip on the top fly is I think preferable, but the wide slip shows  that the infamous bronze mallard can be tamed. In fact we were tickled …….






The Englishman demonstrating his craft ……

Exhaulted company for the workshop in Somerset New Jersey. Dressed three flies on the day; the Lady Caroline, The No. 2 for the Killarney and Flesk and the No.1 for the Galway and Connemara.

Roger Plourde, Paul Rossman, Greg Hefner, Kat, Michelle, Linda, Peggy and last but not least a plumber from Nashville, Stack, Thank you all for allowing me to share a trick or two from across the pond.

Even with impending food poisoning (two slices of toast and a yoghurt in three days the only solid intake) the course went very well and all enjoyed the experience. Especially taming Bronze Mallard, now reduced to “just another feather” instead of being the beast of the feather world.

Same again next year …….

Many thanks




Like peas in a pod …..

They are the most simple flies to dress but that does not mean they are always easy to get right. However, with a little care and attention, the rows of flies can look like ” peas in a pod”. these spiders are all dressed with soft hen hackles for movement in the water with bodies “short in the shank”. This is my preference and is a style consideration, not a technique problem.

Be economical with thread wraps, ask the $64000 question “What is that thread wrap going to contribute to the construction of the fly?” If the answer is nothing, simply don’t add it. This is the biggest and best  kept secret in fly dressing ( I wish !!). The use of tying wax allows the dresser to minimise the wraps of thread, my advice is to use it, it works from me (thank you Marvin).

Apart from the silk in the olive and purple spiders, all have been dressed with Danvilles 6/0 and are on size 12 hooks. The Black and Peacock Spiders, a beetle imitation, have been dressed for fishing reservoirs like Cow Green. The trout although small are lightening quick, most were too quick for m last time; in those famous words of Arnie, “I’ll be back !!”

So enjoy making you flies look like peas in a pod, immense satisfaction can be had.

Waxy threads