My fishing was on a fertile lowland stream with her headwaters among
thousands of acres of farmland and bog. The mixture of waters was such that
the farmland brought nutrients in wet weather, while the bogland stored
water which it released over a longer term, thus ensuring good supply. She
is full of shrimp, caddis, midges, smut stoneflies and olives and many a
minnow, stickleback and eel is there too, sharing their world with the
trout. On the odd occasion when there was no rain for two or three weeks,
the water ran slowly with quiet pools between the riffles. In these
conditions, it is easy to watch trout.
The trout would be rising all over the stream in the evenings totally ignoring my crude efforts to tempt them with a worm on a string and I would return fishless from an excellent hatch of fly. An older friend, aged twelve, recommended I should fly fish for these half pound monsters - not with real flies because they would disintegrate on the hook but with imitations of the flies I saw by the water, built from feathers and silk, cast on a bamboo rod with a silk line. I began a journey into fly fishing and fly design which persists in my imagination.
I managed to find silk and feathers. I had a stock of bantams I had been breeding as pets and for eggs for the family. The boss rooster had fine hackle, as had all his offspring. The local doctor bred exotic pheasants and peacocks and there were hares, snipe, starlings and pheasants locally. I was in the right place to get materials.
My first imitations were black gnats as they seemed to be everywhere and the fish liked them. I managed to find hooks small enough and the finest nylon at the time and fashioned imitations of the flies I caught from the surface.
I learned to tie flies to mimic the scruffy state of messed up flies on my local river and enjoy testing new designs.
Many years later, my works have been published in Flydresser, the magazine of the Fly Dressers Guild, in Trout and Salmon magazine, The Grayling Society, Trout Fisherman magazine, Fish and Fly magazine in the US, Total Flyfisher(UK) and in conjunction with Mick Hall, in Australia's Freshwater Fishing magazine; thanks, Mick.
Flies which I have designed include Copper Wire Hare's Ear, late 1960s, a nymph or emerger in the style of Sawyer, the spiky version is a good floater; Avon Special Emerger, early 1970s; Reversed Parachute Emerger, 1976; more recently EasyPeasy USD Dun, Flat Spent Spinner, Cranky Cripple Emergers and more. I believe that flydressing should be simple so I try to make my designs simple, durable and full of fish appeal, aka triggers.
My reversed parachute emerger is featured in Schollmeyer and Leeson's Tying Emergers and in Rick Takahashi's Modern Midges.
My story of putting back the rocks in the wee river was published by Yale Anglers' Journal; I am honoured.
I have demonstrated my work at British Fly Fair International, Spring Fly Fair UK, Flugfiskemassen in Sweden, Loughs Agency in Ireland, Clearwater Junction in Roscoe US, CLA Game Fair UK, Umbria Fly Fishing Festival in Italy, Uppsala in Sweden, Sportfiskemassen in Sweden and at the UK's North East Fly Fair.
I have a frame of flies at the Flyfishers' Club in London, which I consider a great privilege; besides having dressed the commemorative flies for the 200th anniversary of the death of Lord Horatio Nelson for the Salmon and Trout Association, on behalf of the restoration of London's river Wandle.
I try to get to fish many rivers and streams; attending shows in many countries allows me to access many beautiful places and to meet many beautiful folks, whom I gratefully thank.