Fly Tying Videos

Welcome to my fly tying videos page. Here you can enjoy all my step by step videos showing how to tie my favorite flies…enjoy!

Wyoming Half Back

This is my ‘Wyoming (West Sussex!) Half Back’
It’s my ‘Avoid a Blank Day’ Fly! Don’t go fishing without it!

The Orange Diving Daddy Fly

The ‘ODD Fly’…The Orange Diving Daddy! This fly just keeps on catching.
Please tie it! You will not be disappointed!

Stuff Appetiser

Enjoy a quick bite of ‘Stuff’. My video magazine that brings you new flies, new products, collectable tackle and a whole menu of tips and tricks. Find out what it’s all about.

The Under Hackle Mayfly

In this little video I explain how I use Bug Bond to balance my ‘Under Hackle Mayfly’ and show you a few clips of the lighter side of my DVD ‘Mayflies and More’

Quick Tie Mayfly

Tie the ‘Quick Tie’ Mayfly now… and be ready!
It’s a simple 3 step Mayfly with just 3 basic materials.

Blue Flash Bugger

When the Blue Flash Damsel met the Wooly Bugger, the Blue Flash Bugger was born! It’s one of my most effective streamer patterns. My number one fly for those big winter Rainbows. Go get ‘em!

The Rubber Bullet

Learn how to tie the Rubber Bullet. It’s a new version of my Bullet fly and it’ll catch you fish ‘off the top’ even in the colder months. Keep a few in your box for year round fishing…and catching!

The Deadly Caddis Larva

I found Ed Berg’s Caddis Larva on a packet of Nymph Head Beads from the Flymen Fishing Company.
It’s a fantastic little pattern. Tie it …try it…and catch a big one. I know you will!

The Supa-Dupa-Pupa!

Learn how to tie and how to fish my brand new ‘Supa-Dupa-Pupa’.
The ‘Low and Slow’ fish catcher!

The New Emerger ‘Bob’!

Learn how to tie and how to fish ‘BOB!’. ‘

BOB!’ features a foam post…a double hackle and a brand new body material from Veniard. Check it out.

The Bee-Bee-Gee-Bee – Bug Bond Glass Bug

Let me show you how to tie the fly that helped ‘The Dream Team’ win the 2013 River Test One Fly Competition. It’s the ‘B-B-G-B’. The Bug-Bond-Glass-Bug!

Mayfly Emerger – The Bullet Reborn

My Bullet has given me my best catches over the last three years, but in our last Mayfly season I tied an emerger version and it worked so well I thought I’d share it with you. When you fish it only put floatant on the Deer hair wing…not on the body. This should hang down in the surface film.

Vee-Wing Emerger

When you are next preparing a trout’s menu for windy conditions, I would highly recommend my Vee-Wing Emerger. It’s a mishmash of several ideas but designed for a specific purpose.

When I fished the River Itchen in 2010, the ‘go to’ fly was a size 16 yellow Klinkhamer. It was a terrific fish catcher in calm weather, but if the wind got up and the water became rough, the fly would often ‘drown’. So I came up with this pattern that I hoped would have the same appeal as a Klinkhamer but with a better survival rate.

I gave it a smooth thread body finished with Bug Bond that would quickly pierce the surface film, and added Deer hair wings to give it better flotation. I’m told these wings are not unlike those seen in Davy Wotton’s series of Hatching Caddis. I’m delighted to be in such illustrious company!

I Love Bug Bond

From the moment I tried Bug-Bond I knew it would revolutionise the the way I finished many of my dry flies and nymphs. Frankly it has been an absolute godsend and I use it on most of my fly designs. I have no commercial interest in the product, but I was so impressed with it that I made this short film for David Edwards and the Bug-Bond Team.

Mayflies & More DVD

In this DVD and booklet Chris has combined his knowledge of fly tying with his film production and presenting expertise to demonstrate the tying of flies that he has developed for fishing the rivers and still waters of southern England. Click here to read more…

My latest effort, words from Medlar Press

A FLYTYER’S GUIDE TO THE CHALKSTREAMS

Having spent many years of his early career in TV and film, Chris is now better known for his fishing – as a fly fisher, a vintage tackle collector and a fly tyer. Many of his innovative patterns have been featured in Fly Fishing and Fly Tying magazine and on Sky Sports TV show Tight Lines.

In this DVD and booklet Chris has combined his knowledge of fly tying with his film production and presenting expertise to demonstrate the tying of flies that he has developed for fishing the rivers and still waters of southern England. The 70-minute DVD contains 10 films that demonstrate the tying of 10 flies. The accompanying 32-page, full colour booklet gives step by step details for tying the same flies, illustrated with extraordinarily detailed photographs.

‘Chris Sandford is a story-teller and knows how to appear before camera and vice without being boring . . . Critically, he is an accomplished fly-tyer . . . Recommended’ – Trout & Salmon

 

Mayflies & More DVD £19.80

Click Here to Buy

 

To see a sample of Mayflies & More – and find out what Geoffrey Palmer thinks of fly tying, watch the video below.

Get Your Old Tackle Out!

What’s Your Old Tackle Worth??? Don’t know…..? Then take a few moments to watch.. “Get Your Old Tackle Out!” Click here to watch Episode 1

Want to know what your old antique tackle’s Worth?

Want to start your own vintage fishing tackle collection?

Then read the article and watch the videos 1 thru 4. They’ll give you a head start in the exciting world of vintage fishing tackle collecting.

“Get Your Old Tackle Out!” and my article ‘Starting a Vintage Tackle Collection’ will not only give you a financial insight into what’s hot and what’s not but will also give you a good idea of values and the recent prices paid at some of the top auction houses.

If you want to start a collection or think you may have an item of old tackle that could be worth a fortune, you can’t afford to miss… Get Your Old Tackle Out! and my article ‘Starting a Vintage Tackle Collection’
Happy Hunting!

Get Your Old Tackle Out Episodes 1,2,3 and 4

Starting a Vintage Tackle Collection

By Chris Sandford.

Who knows what forgotten item of old tackle might be lurking in your garden shed or in that cupboard under the stairs? Finding a long forgotten rod or reel, might even encourage you to start a collection and join the happy band of enthusiasts like myself who haunt the tackle auctions and car boot sales in the hope of finding a great rarity.

Vintage Tackle. CS Collection

Collecting Vintage Tackle

Collecting vintage tackle falls into 3 general categories. Firstly, there is the ‘A little bit of everything’ collector. Then there is the specialist who concentrates on one specific area or in some cases, a singular maker. Finally, there is the angler who just likes a few vintage items about his person!

Collectors come from all the angling persuasions.

Some start their angling journey by learning the art of casting a fly line or, in my case, trotting a float in the hope of a large Chub.  So, when I’m asked the best way to start a collection, I always suggest an item from the angler’s past. In most cases this will not be expensive and can ease the new collector into a fascinating hobby without breaking the bank.

My First Vintage Rod and Reel

Shot 1. Walker Rod and Reel

Here is my first acquisition, purchased some 30 years ago. I stopped fishing in my teens and did not rediscover angling until my late forties. My first nostalgic purchase was a Richard Walker Mk IV Carp rod and a half bale Mitchell reel, the same combination on which Walker caught his then record Carp, in 1952. These two items cost me £75, today, in auction; they would make at least £250. Not that I would ever part with them you understand!

Now, let’s say you are a new collector and you have successfully purchased some old tackle that reminds you of those carefree childhood days, but now fancy a few items that carry a little more history and perhaps, some interesting provenance. I should warn you at this point that you are now stepping onto the slippery slope, and there is absolutely no hope for you!

Collecting Vintage Brass Reels

Shot 2 Early Brass Reels

Compared to later reels by well-known manufactures, early brass reels or winches as they were known, can still be picked up at a reasonable price.

The first reels of this kind were known as ‘spike’ winches, *(Left) so called, because a threaded spike on the bridge of the reel went through a hole in the butt of the rod and was secured with a nut.

The next development was the ‘collar’ winch. *(Centre) This gave anglers the freedom to move the reel up or down the rod to suit their preference. Many of these reels were also multipliers, but didn’t gain great popularity because the mechanism, built mostly by watchmakers, was not strong enough to handle a large fish. Finally the reel ‘seat’ *(Right) became commonplace and still serves us well today. A maker’s name and/or beautifully inscribed decoration can increase the value of any of these early reels by at least 100%.

Collecting Vintage Wooden Reels

Shot 3 Wooden Reels

The most collectable maker is without doubt David Slater of Newark. His reputation for carefully choosing the wood and then waiting until it was perfectly seasoned, guaranteed that his reels never warped and were therefore a sound investment. Here are three examples of his work. Left: An early ‘strap back’ made of nickel silver. Centre: A small ‘Nottingham’ reel with what became known as the Slater ‘latch’ for easy removal of the spool. Right: An ornate nickel silver ‘starback’ probably made to order as very few of this pattern have been discovered.

Large sea reels had a problem with salt water causing them to warp. Three examples here give you a good idea of how various makers strengthened them against the rigours of the ocean! From left to right. A ‘circle’ back, a ‘frog’ back and a ‘kite’ back. All very collectable, but be sure that you not only have some strong shelving but also promise to do the dusting!

Collecting Vintage Aerial Reels

Shot 4 Aerial Reels

I wonder if Henry Coxon had any idea in 1896, that he was to be responsible for designing one of the milestones in the history of angling equipment. Allcock & Co. were not slow to take up his reel design with its ultra light drum and spoked frame, and the now famous ‘Coxon Aerial’ was born. When wood was no longer used in the construction of the backplate and aluminium took its place, the reel was renamed the ‘Allcock Aerial’ and the rest, as they say, is history.

There are so many variations that we still find un-catalogued models. A number of these have turned up over the last few years, as two leading collections have gone under the hammer. Rare models have been snapped up, so top prices are not what they were. In fact if you’re considering starting an Aerial collection…now’s the time! Here are three examples from my collection, the details of which might help you with identification.

Top centre is the classic ‘Coxon Aerial’. On the left, a 4 spoke Coxon bound in German silver. On the right, a super rare, 3 spoke Coxon. Finally bottom centre, the much sought after ‘Roller Back’ Allcock Aerial. The salesmen must have had a field day with this one. You can just imagine…”We highly recommend this model Sir. Should a really large fish attach itself to your line, these carefully placed rollers will help the reel take the strain and I’m sure will stop it over heating”

Don’t you just love old fishing tackle?!

Collecting Fly Tying Memorabilia

Shot 5 Fly Tying Mem

Over the last 10 years I’ve collected some of the more interesting items connected with fly tying, and frankly, quite a few of the really silly ones as well!

So here is a selection of rare fly trying collectables that can still be found at reasonable prices.

Starting on the left of our picture is a ‘thumb’ vice (Circa 1908). Next to it is the ‘Holtzapffel’ vice (Circa 1910). Holtzapffel was the talented lathe maker and engineer who designed one of the first commercially available fly tying vices and a number of specialist fly tying tools. His hackle pliers and hook threader are on the right of the vice.

Next to them, an early Veniard bobbin holder, and below them, various old hackle pliers. At the bottom of the picture, the highly collectable 1935 ‘Lightening Fly Dresser’. A pencil shaped bobbin holder with a convenient built-in brake for thread control! On the far right are two rare hand vices and, standing out like a sore thumb, is my very modern, but highly collectable, Waldron Law Vice. Since production of this wonderful vice stopped a few years ago, they have become the most sought after modern fly tying collectable.

After record prices being paid on eBay, I am reliably informed that there is a long waiting list of tyers willing to pay between £1,500 and £2,000! The original cost was around £450… Not a bad investment!

Collecting Vintage Fishing Lures

Ahhh, the lure of the lure! Like many other collectors, I like a little bit of everything.

But back in the early 90’s, I had a deep and meaningful obsession with the history of British baits. I was the sad researcher covered in cobwebs in a corner of the British Library! The result of my labours is my book, ‘The Best of British Baits’ published in 1997. It covers the history of our baits from Izaac Walton’s Silk Minnow, through to the 1930’s.

Shot 6 Early Lures

Here is a display of mixed lures that will give you some idea of the vast range of examples that are available to the keen collector.  Sadly my insurance company insist that the more valuable examples are kept in the bank. Who was to know that many lures that cost just a few pounds in the 80’s and 90’s are now worth hundreds? The big names to look for are, Gregory, Geen, Allcock and Hardy, and any example with glass eyes, is good news!

Collecting Antique Gaffs and Gadgets.

Shot 7 Gaffs and Gadgets

This category covers a positive plethora of fascinating collectables. The diabolical two hook gaff in the centre of our shot was designed and patented by a Mr F. Cook on

28th March 1891. Presumably, Mr Cook lost a very large fish and locked himself away until he came up with this horrendous implement. One primes the device by pulling back the wooden collar on the shaft. A small trigger behind the collar releases the hooks over the hapless fish.

The little wooden gaff above Mr Cook’s creation is a folding poacher’s gaff. Just the right size to secrete down one’s trouser leg!

The Jardine Pike Gag (Below the Cook’s Gaff) is one of those much sought-after items that rarely come to auction. Patented in 1896, the Farlows catalogue of 1909 tells us that the price was 8/6d plus 3d postage and that ‘…. by turning the handle, the mouth of the fish can be distended to any width required’

I don’t suppose that it crossed anyone’s mind that two sets of trebles were probably enough pointed objects in a Pike’s mouth!

The simplest of objects for disgorging and despatching fish was, Allcock’s ‘Conway’ Pike ‘stunner’ and disgorger. (Bottom) It was basically a fork-ended cosh, but sold for a very reasonable 2/9d!

Our forefathers invented a fine array of jaw-prising, hook-removing and cranium-coshing apparatus. The most eminently sensible of these are without doubt, pike scissors.

(Above the Jardine Gag) ‘The Modern Angler’ by Otter (1898) sings their praises, in part, as follows. ‘….The gag is kept open by way of a steel extender, the teeth of which are made to catch on a screw; but when not in use, this portion shuts up on one limb of the gag. The pike gag can also be used as scissors, being very strong, and sharpened for the purpose.

Collecting Vintage Threadline Reels.

Shot 8 Threadline Reels

The threadline revolution began on May 4th 1905, when Alfred Holden Illingworth patented his now famous, Illingworth No.1 reel. (Top)

It is believed that Illingworth got his idea by studying the silk weaver’s shuttle and decided that there was no good reason why a reel could not be made with the spool permanently facing forward. With the addition of a fine silk line, a small spinner could now be cast further and more accurately than ever before.

The reel was an immediate success but, ‘new technology’ will always have its critics, and Illingworth was the subject of heated debate and criticism from those of a more traditional persuasion. In reply to their complaints, Illingworth wrote that he hoped the reel would be ‘…used sparingly and with the discretion which the sportsman-like instinct of a fly fisherman would dictate.’ He added that he only used the reel himself at low water to ‘…rid the stream of marauding and retrograde old trout’!

Illingworth produced another 4 models, but they were expensive so were not available to the angler of modest means. But help was on the way! The story goes, that when engineer Walter Stanley was repairing an Illingworth No.1, he had an idea for a more robust reel that would not be beyond the pocket of the average angler. He patented his brainchild in 1926 and christened it, ‘The Flyer Threadline’. (Left Centre) He had the good sense to take his idea to Allcock & Co in the early 1930s. They recognized the potential, redesigned the reel, and brought ‘The Allcock Stanley’ to the market at the bargain price of 22/6d. (Centre Right) It was an immediate success and sold in its thousands. Although designed for light float fishing, reports of it landing large salmon and pike soon enhanced its reputation.

Most early fixed spool reels had a big problem with line ‘bedding in’. Either the spool or the line guide went back and forth to help spread the line, but a hard pull from a large fish could well signal trouble.

In 1935, PW Felton came up with an answer to this problem. (Bottom) He built his ‘Crosswind’ reel with a tilting spool so as it oscillated; it laid the line across itself at an angle. There were six models incorporating this successful concept, all manufactured by Allcock and Co.

In 1936 Felton sealed the reel’s reputation by winning four major prizes in the Crystal Palace Casting Championships.

As a new member of the SPS I was fascinated to read in our Spring 2013 issue of Sussex Piscator that PW Felton was elected as the secretary of our Trout section in 1928. Now there’s a man I would like to have met!

If you have an interest in this area of collecting, John Stephenson’s book ‘Understanding Threadlines’ is essential reading. Sadly it’s now out of print but can be found on the Internet for between £20-£30.

Collecting Carved and Stuffed Fish

I have a few stuffed and a couple of carved fish in my collection, but nothing as sensational as the examples that have gone through Angling Auctions hands in the recent past.

Company boss Neil Freeman allowed me access to his substantial library.

Shot 9 Rainbow Trout

The first fish I chose was this exceptionally rare carved wooden Rainbow (Kamloops) Trout by Tommy Brayshaw. (1886 -1967)  The nickel silvered plaque reads “Rainbow Trout, Caught at Jewel Lake, British Columbia by J.H. Moller, Weight 18lbs, June 10th 1932” The black and white photograph attached to the bottom left corner shows the angler holding the fish, with Jewel Lake in the background. Estimated at £5,000-£8,000 it made a startling £18,000!

Shot 10 Brown Trout

 My second choice was one of a pair of rare J. Cooper & Sons cabinets containing eight mounted Brown Trout caught by the Earl of Coventry. The label in the top left corner reads, “Irish Lough Trout taken by The Earl of Coventry, June 1879”. Estimated at £6,000-£9,000, the pair of cases sold for

£16,000 plus the buyer’s premium…. A snip!

The message here is a simple one. Fine quality and sound provenance cost money! But there are still plenty of cased and carved fish out there, that won’t break the bank.

Collecting Vintage Rods

There is no doubt that vintage rods are the ‘poor relation’ of angling collectables. This is because few collectors have the wall space to display them and unless kept away from central heating and a damp atmosphere, the condition of a rod will usually degrade far quicker than a reel from the same era.

Shot 11 Walker Clarrisa Rod

Over the last few years, coarse rods made by B.James of Ealing have held their prices well, especially those bearing Richard Walkers’ name. I was recently fortunate enough to obtain the rod on which the great man landed the 1952 record Carp ‘Clarissa’.

Shot 12 Valise Rod and Reel

Multi piece examples like this seven-piece valise rod by Holroyd of London (1815-1911) with its brass folding handle reel, will always sell well because not only does it have a good provenance, but makes an attractive addition to any collection in a small display frame.

I hope you’ve found this brief visit to the world of vintage tackle collecting of interest. Although some collectors are inclined to think that they own all the tackle in their collections, I prefer to believe that we are simply preserving it for future generations. If you fancy starting a collection, happy hunting and remember….It’s still out there…it just needs finding!

Chris Sandford’s ‘STUFF’ – My Video Magazine

When I appear at fly-fishing and vintage tackle shows, many of the questions I’m asked fall into distinct categories. So I’ve put together this little video magazine that will not only answer many of your queries, but also show you some of the materials, tips and tricks that I’m more than happy to recommend. Welcome to my ‘STUFF’! Click here to watch ‘Stuff’ Episodes 1-10 on video..

Episode 1

When I appear at fly-fishing and vintage tackle shows, many of the questions I’m asked fall into several, distinct categories. So, I’ve put together this ongoing video magazine that will not only answer many of your queries, but also show you some of the materials, tips and tricks that I’m more than happy to recommend. Welcome to my ‘STUFF’! In this first episode, I mess with materials, tempt you with an old tying tool, fashion a two-feather fly, view and review vices, and consider some curious collectables… Enjoy!

Episode 2

Welcome to episode two of my ‘Stuff’, and thankyou for all your kind words about episode one. This time I’ve been folding feathers, diddling with dubbing, plundering paintbrushes and valuing vices. There’s a ‘Buzzy Bug’, an ‘All Purpose Spinner’ and a DIY Feather Folder…Enjoy!

 

Episode 3

At last! …I hear you cry….. ‘STUFF’ 3! In this enthralling episode we tantalize you with a Taser Bug…Humour you with history…Tie the One Fly winner and reveal my vintage tackle! Enjoy!

 

Episode 4

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better…Stuff 4! In this four-part extravaganza we bring you ready-made wings and bodies plus a simple Sedge pattern. In the book section we recommend how to Catch’Em and collect ‘em and in the third part I advise on how to dress a Fish Skull! Finally, I’ll show you some old angling gadgets that are making record prices in the auction rooms. Enjoy!

 

Episode 5

Hello ‘Stuffers’! Here it is…new for 2014…’STUFF 5’! In this cocktail of delights, we start with our film of the British Fly Fair International.  I’ll then recommend some handy aids to fly tying and explain why I called my new fly ‘Bob’. Next I’ll describe how the ‘hair of the dog’ can help your fishing, and finally I’ll introduce you to my ‘Supa-Dupa-Pupa’!… Enjoy…

 

Episode 6

Hello again ‘Stuffers’… In a constant search to bring you items of superlative quality, this episode begins with that master of the vice and bobbin Ian McKenzie, tying his Parachute Emerger. Next I take you to the world of vintage tackle and introduce you to some early British lures that are making ridiculously high prices in the auction rooms.In part three I’ll recommend two books that I consider essential reading for any keen flytier. I’ll also show you a couple of new fly tying kits.Finally I’ll tie a new Mayfly Emerger pattern based on my signature fly ‘The Bullet’… Enjoy!

 

Episode 7

To celebrate the end of our second year of ‘Stuff’ we present a positive plethora of fly tying delights! First I will show you how to tie the ‘Rubber Bullet’. It’s a fly the fish were taking ‘off the top’ even on those cold autumn mornings! Then Ian McKenzie returns with a classic Richard Walker pattern and I demonstrate an American Caddis Larva that my cameraman continues to refer to as ‘a maggot’! Cheek! Finally we look at the UK’s most popular fly and make a bigger, bolder version to tempt those big winter Rainbows! Enjoy!

 

Episode 8

Welcome back Stuffers…here it is…all new Stuff 8 ! I say ‘all new’…what we’ve done is to ‘refresh’ the concept! The music and graphics have been updated and many other delights await your approval. For example, we have some clips from one of the UK’s top TV fishing shows, a magazine and book recommendation, and instructions on how to tie the deadly ‘Quick Tie’ Mayfly. Finally my references to the delights of ‘Beaver’ have caused quite a stir, so I’m proud to present a worldwide first…The Beaver Fly! Enjoy!

 

Episode 9

Welcome to ‘Stuff 9’! Yet another plethora of delights that begs the question…Where else can you learn to tie one of the trickiest Mayfly patterns on the planet or discover the secrets of the ‘Diving Daddy’? Where will you find the Carp fly that has accounted for nearly 200 Carp including thirty-seven 20lb fish and one at 30lb!? Also, have you got an old lure that could be worth more than £4,000? It’s all in ‘Stuff 9’, including clips from that great, but now sadly missed, TV show ‘Tight Lines’. Check it out!

 

Episode 10

Hello Stuffers! Brimming with Christmas cheer we bring you:

Episode 10, the final ‘Stuff’ ‘extravaganza!

Be stunned when you see my ‘Flash Bugger’ in action! Intrigue your sense of history with a fly pattern that’s over 200 years old! Watch me tie the fly that will get you out of trouble on a blank day. It’s my ‘Wyoming (West Sussex) Half Back’! Finally, damp with festive merriment, we suggest Christmas presents for the angler in your family.

Yes…it’s our Christmas Special and if you’re wondering if Santa makes an appearance…

You bet he does!

Well I hope you enjoyed the shows. Here are a few contacts for all my favourite ‘Stuff, but please always try your local fly-tying supplier first. If we don’t use ‘em, we’ll lose ‘em!

www.flytyingboutique.com

www.veniard.com (Check out their stockists)

www.medlarpress.com

www.virtual-nymph.com

www.rightanglefishing.co.uk

www.orvis.co.uk

www.lathkill.com

www.fishingmegastore.com

www.lakelandflytying.com

www.funkyflytying.co.uk

www.cookshill-flytying.co.uk

www.flytek.co.uk – Site currently under review. Please call 07788 427560 for any enquires.

Finally, if you live in the Surrey/Sussex area please be sure to visit Peter Cockwill at his shop at Albury Game Angling, The Street, Albury, Surrey GU5 9AG. Tel: 01483 205196. He has a vast selection of fly-fishing equipment and fly-tying materials and is always happy to advise customers and share his knowledge.

Carp Off The Top!

Learn how to tie my Square Cut Carp Fly and catch ’em off the top! Click here to read more…

C.S. at tying deskjpgIn the middle of April every year, fly-fishing friends of a certain persuasion are inclined to get a little over excited. Not only is the Mayfly almost with us, but those of us that embrace what is often referred to as, ‘the dark side’, dust off our 8 weight rods and reel lines, and prepare for a little early evening action. After diligent research and countless ‘phone calls, plans are formulated, the weather examined in every detail and finally, we are ready to spend £5 to £10 each and move boldly on to our chosen day ticket Carp lake!

Essentials for this expedition are not only a rod and line, as described, but also a large net. Then, there are two essential items rarely seen in a fly fishers possession. A small bucket of floating dog biscuits or trout pellets and a catapult!

Ah yes…to catch Carp off the top you must ‘chum ‘em up’!

We usually prepare a couple of likely feeding areas and concentrate our efforts on whichever receives interest. Consideration must be given to wind direction, the position of the setting sun and the proximity of static anglers who naturally get a little peeved if one is constantly casting a fly line across their baited area.

This paid dividends earlier this year when one of our local Carp fishers pointed out an area of the lake that had recently shown a great deal of surface activity. This information resulted in my landing a 22lb Grass Carp on my ‘Square Cut Carp Fly. A personal best!

Shot 2. 22lb Grass Carp

As I mentioned in my September 2014 article, I designed my ‘Square Cut Carp Fly’ at the request of local enthusiast Dave Ball. I made it of densely packed deer hair on a Drennan Super Specialist Barbel hook size 6, cut it square to mimic the ‘free offerings’ and built a sight post in the middle, so it could be seen at a distance. We are now at the end of May 2015. Since spring 2014, Dave has caught 190 Carp on this fly including thirty-seven 20lb fish and one at 30lb!

Jim! New Dave Ball Shot!JPG

Feedback on the article was most rewarding, but I have to admit I was not that happy with my shots of the fly, so I asked that fine photographer and absolute ‘Deer Hair Wizard’, Barry Ord Clarke, if he could help. I offered to send him an example but he said ‘Don’t worry…I’ve seen the article, I’ll knock one up and send you a picture’. This is what arrived in my inbox the next day.

Shot3.Barry OC Carp Fly

I was completely bowled over and once he explained how his tying of the fly varied from mine, I took a deep breath and asked him if he would mind photographing a step-by-step. This is the result.

Thank you Barry, it’s an absolute revelation!

Step 2  Step 1: Barry trims the foam booby cord to a point.

 

 

 

Step 2  Step 2: He then impales this on the hook and feeds it round on to the shank

 

 

 

Step3  Step 3: He uses a toothbrush to tease out the duff and soft fibers from the deer   hair
 
 
 

Step 4  Step 4: First he spins a couple of bunches of hair to the rear of the foam

 

 

 

Step 5  Step 5: Now he stacks the foam and deer hair with his finger and thumb

 

 

 

Step 6  Step 6: Another couple of bunches of deer hair are now spun and stacked in front

 

 

 

Step 7  Step 7: Barry now uses the same toothbrush to ‘comb’ the spun deer hair

 

 

 

Step 8  Step 8: Serrated scissors are essential for clipping deer hair to length

 

 

 

Step 9  Step 9: Here he has clipped the deer hair into a cube. Using the blades horizontally
 
 
 

Step 10  Step 10: …he cuts into the gape of the hook and trims the foam.

 

 

 

Step 11  Step 11: Now he uses a razor to tidy up the edges

 

 

 

Step 12  Step 12: The finished Square Cut Carp Fly

 

 

 

If you’re keen to try something a little different on the fly rod, please tie this fly, make some inquiries about your local Carp fishery and I guarantee, you’ll get your string well and truly pulled!

 

 

 

 

 

 

An edited version of this article was first published in Fly-fishing and Fly Tying Magazine

 

 

 

How to tie ‘The Bullet Reborn’. My Mayfly Emerger.

My Bullet has given me my best catches over the last three years but in our last Mayfly season I tied an emerger version and it worked so well I thought I’d share it with you. Click here to read more and watch the video…

My Bullet has given me my best catches over the last three years but in our last Mayfly season I tied an emerger version and it worked so well I thought I’d share it with you. When you fish it, only put floatant on the Deer hair wing…not on the body. This should hang down in the surface film.
Tight lines…Chris

‘One Fly’ Winners!

‘Dream Team’, Chris Tarrant, Geoffrey Palmer and yours truly, successfully defended our winners’ title in the 2013 ‘River Test One Fly’ competition by coming joint first with the ‘Fly Fish Map’ team, each with an equal 1510 points. Click here to read more and watch the film.

The Bee-Bee-Gee-Bee

‘Dream Team’, Chris Tarrant, Geoffrey Palmer and yours truly, successfully defended our winners’ title in the 2013 ‘River Test One Fly’ competition by coming joint first with the ‘Fly Fish Map’ team, each with an equal 1510 points.
In the last competition, the team’s winning fly was my ‘Ducking Feadly’. This time I presented the team with my new, ‘Bee-Bee-Gee-Bee’ (The ‘Bug-Bond Glass Bug’).
It’s tricky designing a fly for this competition. It must be virtually indestructible, heavy enough to search those deep runs, but also stay within the rules of the competition.
After the prize giving, Chris Tarrant commented… “I’m thrilled to have won it again! It was a really difficult windy day and we all found it tough, but I’m sure the ‘Bee-Bee-Gee-Bee’ made a big difference!”
When I asked Geoffrey to comment on his role in the winning team, he said.
“Can I go home now?”
Enjoy the film and watch this space for instructions on how to tie the ‘Bee-Bee-Gee-Bee’.

 

So You Want to Learn to Tie Flies?

So you want to learn to tie flies? Then I’ve got just the website for you. My chum Barry Ord Clarke has recently added to his already stunning website, a course of fly-tying lessons. Beautifully photographed and accompanied by clear and simple instruction, Barry takes the novice tyer through the rudiments of our great hobby. Click here to read more…

Barry & big char

So you want to learn to tie flies? Then I’ve got just the website for you. My chum Barry Ord Clarke has recently added to his already stunning website, a course of fly-tying lessons. Beautifully photographed and accompanied by clear and simple instruction, Barry takes the novice tyer through the rudiments of our great hobby.

Barry explains, “I’ve learned through holding many fly tying courses and through the magazine articles I’ve written over many years, that if tying techniques are not supported by clear instructions and illustrations, a beginner has little chance of succeeding. I’ve put together these classes in the hope that I can encourage a whole new generation of tyers and help established tyers who want to advance their skills.”

Barry’s idea is to keep the beginner engaged in not only traditional, but also new and exiting techniques with new patterns posted on a regular basis. If you wish to start tying flies, visit this great site and browse all the stages of the course at your leisure, and it’s free! Barry is also happy to answer any questions that you may have regarding tying techniques or materials and their uses.

Go to http://thefeatherbender.wordpress.com and look for Fly Tying Course….You’ll be glad you did!

The Allcock’s Aquatic Spider Fly Pattern

If I could only fish one type of fly it would have to represent any creature that shows a bit of leg! In fact the more legs the merrier! Daddies, water spiders, floating or sinking, anything with that enticing wiggle that Trout can’t resist. Fortunately angling history proves that my choice is a wise one. Click here to read more…

allcock1If I could only fish one type of fly it would have to represent any creature that shows a bit of leg! In fact the more legs the merrier! Daddies, water spiders, floating or sinking, anything with that enticing wiggle that Trout can’t resist. Fortunately angling history proves that my choice is a wise one.
In 1911 The Fishing Gazette ran this full-page advertisement featuring the ‘Allcocks Aquatic Spider.’

This floating fly soon achieved legendary status and sold in its thousands accounting for an equally staggering number of fish. Attractively packaged in its own tin and mounted on an instruction card, it was keenly priced at 1/3d, making it almost irresistible to the fly angler. Today they fetch anything from £60 to £100 depending on condition.

In October 2011 I made a film for the Sky Sports fishing show ‘Tight Lines’, where I managed to prove that this old stager is still a great fish catcher.
I didn’t use one of the original Aquatic spider flies as losing one or two would have been an expensive exercise! Instead I asked Stuart Bowden of Pendle Fly Dressing to tie me some exact replicas. He did a great job and the fish loved them!

allcock2

 

 

Stuart Bowden’s Spiders

 

 

 

allcock3On advice on how to fish the Spider fly, I can do no better than to quote the instructions on the back its presentation card. The first two directions advise us on a gut cast and line treatment. On rivers we are instructed to cast upstream and simply let the insect float down and on lakes we should ‘…allow the spider to float quietly. Do not jerk it about’ ! Finally we are told ‘When it is taken, strike AT ONCE’! I followed these instructions to the letter and had rather a good day as you will see if you check out:

www.skysports.com

 

Since the show was aired I’ve had a great many enquiries asking how to tie the Aquatic Spider fly pattern, so here is my version with the step-by-step instructions. Let me know how you get on!

You will need:
Hook: Kamasan B830 or similar long shank.
Thread: Fine. I use Sheer in black.
Body: Veniard’s Booby Eye Foam. Black.
Body Covering: Peacock Herl.
Legs: Peacock Sword.

Step One.
allcock-step1Place a Kamasan 830 Size 12 (.or similar long shank hook) in the vice and run the thread down to opposite the barb. Now bring the thread two thirds of the way back up the hook and let it hang.
Take a section of 5mm black Booby-Eye foam and clip the front end to a blunt point. Measure the foam against the hook and trim it so its length is slightly shorter than the hook shank. Now trim the tail end of the foam to a gradual point. Take a pair of sharp pointed scissors and cut a shallow slit the length of the foam.

allcock-step2Step Two.
Spread a thin layer of Super Glue along the thread wraps and press the foam down onto the hook so it lodges in the slit. Be sure to leave a small space behind the eye. Wrap the thread around the foam forming the head and body. The body should be twice the length of the head. Whip finish over the wraps, snip the thread and reattach at the rear of the body securing the foam.

Step Three.
allcock-step3With the thread now at the rear of the body tie in 6-8 strands of Peacock Herl on top of the hook and the same below so that all the strands protrude both in front and behind the hook. Whip finish and reattach the thread behind the head.

 

 

Step Four
allcock-step4Grasp the herl strands that are facing forward and carefully tie them down behind the head making sure they are spread evenly around the body. Trim the waste. Now take the herls that are facing backwards and bring them forward to the same tie in point filling any gaps in the body. Tie down and trim the waste.

 

Step Five.
allcock-step5Tie in two pairs of Peacock Sword legs. One pair either side of the body facing backwards.

 

 

 

 

allcock-step5aStep Five (a)
When snipping pairs of sword herl from the feather it pays to leave them attached to the quill as this will help keep them in position when tying in. Trim the waste.

 

 

Step Six
allcock-step6Move the thread to behind the eye and tie in three strands of Peacock herl, move the thread back to behind the head. Twist or plait the herl to form a rope, coat the foam head with varnish and wind the rope back to behind the head. Tie down the herl and trim the waste. Tie in a pair of legs facing forwards either side of the head. Trim the waste; add a little varnish whip finish.

 

 

Step Seven.

Enjoy!allcock-step7

 

 

The Scuba Diver Spider

My love of all flies ‘leggy’ continues and whilst surfing the Internet in the depths of winter 2010 I came across these extraordinary creatures. I’ve christened them, ‘Scuba Diver’ Spiders but their correct name is Argyroneta Aquatica. They’re also known as ‘Diving Bell’ spiders. Click here to read more…

My love of all flies ‘leggy’ continues and whilst surfing the Internet in the depths of winter 2010 I came across these extraordinary creatures. I’ve christened them, ‘Scuba Diver’ Spiders but their correct name is Argyroneta Aquatica. They’re also known as ‘Diving Bell’ spiders.

scuba1

Gathering air from the surface, they have the ability to make an air bubble nest underwater, where they raise their offspring. They breathe by carrying a bubble of air on the fine hairs of their abdomen. This bubble gives the rear half of their body a silvery appearance. Found in freshwater lakes and ponds, they grow to 10-15mm long and live on Phantom Midge larvae, Mites and Mayfly nymphs. They in turn are eaten by frogs and, I’m delighted to say, fish!
If you are a male water spider you can look forward to a reasonably long life. This is because, unlike some other spiders, the female of your choice will not eat you after mating! What a comforting thought!

Check out the great footage of the ‘Scuba Diver’ Spider on www.youtube.com

Here are the tying steps for my pattern; a few tips on how to fish it follow.

You will need:

Hook: Kamasan B160 Size 10.
Thread: Fine. I use black Sheer.
Head: Black glass bead. 3 or 4 mm.
Legs: Veniard Barred Rubber Legs. Brown or Olive.
Body: Peacock Black Ice Dub.
Air Sack: White Poly-Ball wrapped in stocking.

scuba-step1Step One:
Place a 3or4mm black glass bead on the hook and secure the hook in the vice. Leave the bead at the back of the hook and tie in two barred rubber legs facing forward, one either side of the eye. Trim the waste. Build enough thread behind the eye to hold the bead firmly when slid forward. Secure and clip the thread. Add a little Super Glue to the thread wraps and slide the bead forward into position.

scuba-step2Step Two
Restart the thread and wind it to the rear of the hook to above the barb. Tie in two more rubber legs, one either side of the hook shank, facing backwards. Add a little Peacock Black Ice Dub over the wraps. Directly over the dubbing, tie in a Poly ball wrapped in stocking and pointing backwards over the legs. Trim the stocking, dub over the wraps and dub forward halfway towards the bead.

 

scuba-step3Step Three:
Tie in another pair of legs either side of the hook shank and leave the thread hanging between them. Make a fine rope of dubbing and use this as you wrap forward to secure the legs in the required position.

 

 

scuba-step4

Step Four:
Finish dubbing behind the bead and whip finish. Add a little glue to the wraps. Now carefully trim the legs. As a rough guide I suggest you leave the legs twice the length of the body.

 

Fishing the ‘Scuba Diver’ Spider.

The SDS spends very little time on the surface of the water so we want our fly to sink, but as slowly as possible. Make sure your SDS is wet before you test its sink rate. Once calculated, decide on your method of retrieve. There are three ways that I’ve found to be successful. Two fairly straightforward and one that might fall into the ‘radical’ category.

Method One
Let’s assume you know the approximate depth of the water and that the bed of your lake has a covering of weed where our spider is likely to be found. Simply cast out, count your fly down to the appropriate depth and retrieve your fly very slowly across the top of the weed.

Method Two
Cast out and count the fly down to where you feel it has reached the top of the weed then lift the rod slowly to bring the fly to the surface. Once it’s there, let it sink again. Repeat the process until you have brought it back to the bank. It’s a little like the ‘sink and draw’ technique you might use when coarse fishing for Pike with a dead bait. I’ve found the secret is to keep the rise and fall of the fly as slow as possible, and to use the longest leader with which you are most comfortable.

Method Three
First let me say I’ve nothing against using plastic strike indicators in rough fast flowing rivers, but I usually draw the line at tying bubble floats onto the back of my flies! However, a chum of mine who spends a lot of time fishing small reservoirs came up with this idea that he assures me ‘works like a dream’!

scuba-finish1First re-tie the fly but instead of representing the air bubble with a stocking covered Poly Ball, purchase some small, clear ‘Unibobbers’. Cut the small ring attachment in half and lash the remainder to the back of the hook and secure with some Super Glue.
Cover the wraps with Ice Dub and continue with Step 3.
Fish on a fast sinking line with a short leader as you would a Booby!
Retrieve slowly but every now and again give a sharp tug that should pull the fly down into the weed. Pause to let it float up again then continue the slow retrieve.

scuba-finish2Other possibilities for controlling the weight of the fly are an air bubble of Polypropylene yarn or a large silver glass bead wrapped in stocking material. Do we believe the trout look at the fly and think, “Jolly good, Argyroneta Aquatica…just what I fancied!” Or do we think that perhaps eight twitching legs simply wet their appetite? Either way, if you feel like ringing the changes on your local still water, you should definitely put a couple

 

 

Me and the Mrs Fishes!

Around 2004/5, my wife Gelly and I spent most of our holiday time fishing around the world. Here are two little ‘home movies’, shot on domestic camcorders, that give you an idea of how great the fishing can be in both New Zealand and Florida. Click here to watch the videos.

Around 2004/5, my wife Gelly and I spent most of our holiday time fishing around the world. Here are two little ‘home movies’, shot on domestic camcorders, that give you an idea of how great the fishing can be in both New Zealand and Florida.

Our special thanks to composer, Phil Nicholl, who kindly wrote the theme music. He’s a good friend and work colleague from my commercials production days. I must also thank Gelly’s production company, Pretty Clever Pictures for providing all the production facilities.

  Me and the Mrs Fishes… Florida

Me and the Mrs Fishes… New Zealand

 

Fishing Montage Video

Here is a montage of me fishing for some memorable fish over the years. We travelled to such diverse locations as Florida, France, New Zealand and the UK. We had a great time…enjoy. Click Here to Watch the Video

Here is a montage of me fishing for some memorable fish over the years. We travelled to such diverse locations as Florida, France, New Zealand and the UK. We had a great time…enjoy.

I Like Geoffrey Palmer

From my book A Wellie Full of Water published by Medlar Press.
I’ve known him for over twenty-five years, he’s one of the UK’s finest character actors, he’s cheered up our TV screens with his performances in Butterflies and As Time Goes By, and his supporting roles in countless movies are always a treat. More…

From my book A Wellie Full of Water published by Medlar Press

I’ve known him for over twenty-five years, he’s one of the UK’s finest character actors, he’s cheered up our TV screens with his performances in Butterflies and As Time Goes By, and his supporting roles in countless movies are always a treat. He’s king of laconic delivery, an avid game fisher and, to coin an old-fashioned phrase, a jolly nice chap!
When I decided to add the fly rod to my angling armoury, he showed immense patience. I turned up for a day with him on the Test and, knowing I was still trying to master the fly cast, he asked to see how I was progressing. After watching me flail from side to side for a few moments, he muttered, “Well you seem to be able to cast sideways, perhaps you’d like to go over to that carrier and try something a little more conventional!”
When I thought I was competent enough to be seen on his local river Lodden, I bought a day with him in a charity auction. The weather and the setting were perfect. I wandered off downstream, while Geoffrey took the higher beat. I’d seen no sign of a fish until the river angled away for a few yards into a tunnel of Hawthorn. There, as the river turned almost at right-angles, a huge fish was sipping insects from the surface. There was no room to stand, so I crawled into the bushes, sat on the flap of my shoulder bag and flicked a tiny Hare’s Ear on three feet of leader towards the fish. Suddenly a voice behind me said, “Christopher . . . we don’t sit down when we’re fly fishing!” Since that time, I have knelt occasionally, but whenever I’ve been tempted to sit, Geoffrey’s words come back to haunt me.
Last year, my wife and I joined the ‘Palmer Clan’ on the Tweed. His expeditions to Scotland have become family outings. Son Charlie and daughter Harriet are both proficient salmon fishers,
while his wife Sally, a talented artist, spends her time immortalising some of the more picturesque locations.
I’ve only fished for Atlantic salmon a few times in my chequered angling career and, as if it were pre-ordained, I’ve been met every time with the dreaded ‘low water’ . . . “You should have been here last week Sir, we were walking across their backs . . .” And of course as soon as I leave, anglers have to wear special trusses so as not to rupture themselves dragging gargantuan fish on to the bank!
The year 2003 was a record year for the Tweed but, in spite of that, the Sandford ‘Low Water Curse’ took full effect for our two-day visit. I was convinced that Geoffrey now realised that to invite me anywhere near a salmon river would have the effect of most of the water draining back into the sea! So I was pleasantly surprised in early May of this year when he invited me for three days on the Lower Oykel.
I’d never seen this legendary Sutherland river, let alone fished it. “Just fly up to Inverness,” he said, “hire a car, and you’ll be at the Oykel Bridge Hotel in about one and a half hours. They’ve been having a terrific spring run, so it’s all looking rather good.”
We arrived at the hotel within half an hour of each other and went immediately to the riverbank to pursue the traditional practice of looking at the gauges. There wasn’t enough water to wet their lowest extremities, let alone give an optimistic reading! So we took the only advisable action in these circumstances and had a nice cup of tea! We all agreed that the hotel was terrific . . . comfy beds, loads of hot water and great food . . . and the company, even better.
The upside, as far as I was concerned, was that even with low water, once allotted my beat on this remote river, I could practice my Spey casting without causing too much hilarity among the locals!
The Oykel is the most beautiful of rivers, and although nothing was caught for the first two days, it was a privilege just to be there and walk the banks. On the evening of the second day, the forecast promised rain which duly arrived and continued for most of the night. Breakfast on my last day was a very optimistic affair – even the ghillies were smiling. When we met at the lunch hut it was a different story. One of our party thought he had seen a fish but wasn’t sure, and that was about it.
After lunch, everyone swapped beats and I was left looking at an exquisite stretch of river that had been fished hard all morning by the rest of the group. I sat and looked at it for half an hour, then it struck me. The water was ten feet deep and the other anglers had fished floating lines with their flies going no deeper than about two feet. I rigged my 9-foot 9-weight trout rod with a clear intermediate line and on the second cast managed to hook a salmon. George, the head ghillie, arrived in the nick of time and estimated the fish at eight or nine pounds. Geoffrey also caught a fish of about the same weight, so that evening there was cause for great celebration!
It had been suggested to me that when dining at the Oykel Bridge Hotel, one was expected to wear a jacket and tie. I don’t mind fancy dress occasionally and had packed my most tasteless fish tie for the last night. I arrived in the bar to spasmodic applause. The barman reached behind the bar, smiled and produced exactly the same tie! I congratulated him on his good taste and joined the rest of the party. What I didn’t know was that he later sneaked the tie to Geoffrey who arrived wearing it and a deadpan expression, a few moments later!
I like Geoffrey Palmer!

 

My book A Wellie Full of Water is available from www.MedlarPress.com

 

 

The Fish Whisperer

A Shaggy Fish Story from Waterlog Magazine.
The sign at the lodge gate says ‘Priorywood Retirement Home’ but this thirty-five acres of rolling countryside with its stately mansion, is known locally as ‘Whisperer’s Hall’. The security check is friendly enough, but there is a professional thoroughness when the contents of one’s car boot are examined. More…

A Shaggy Fish Story from Waterlog Magazine

The sign at the lodge gate says ‘Priorywood Retirement Home’ but this thirty-five acres of rolling countryside with its stately mansion, is known locally as ‘Whisperer’s Hall’. The security check is friendly enough, but there is a professional thoroughness when the contents of one’s car boot are examined, and you’re told that the use of any photographic equipment is strictly forbidden.
There is no way of approaching ‘The Hall’ at anything less than a few miles an hour as speed bumps inhibit progress every hundred yards or so.
On my visit, glancing left and right, I noticed that the livestock in the fields on either side were not always behaving ‘normally’. An old lady, surrounded by ten enormous bulls was having an intense conversation. A little further on, a gentleman in a deckchair was surrounded by a flock of sheep and laughing heartily at some ovine joke! Half a mile before the entrance to the hall, there was a vast chicken run, the inhabitants of which were gazing attentively up at a cockerel perched on the arm of a gentleman in tweeds who seemed to be explaining some complex problem.
Matron Gubbins was waiting for me on the steps of the hall and offered a firm handshake. “Let’s have a little chat before your meeting with Cyril.”
Her office was a shrine to past residents. A mass of photographs lined the walls, each one showing an individual with an animal. A man in a bowler hat and pinstriped suit with an orang-utan. A small gentleman in a kilt holding a ladder next to a giraffe! A little girl with three bears. Matron smiled and said, “Oh yes, we’ve had some wonderfully talented people spend their final days with us, many before my time of course.”
There was a pause in the conversation, so I put on my most sympathetic expression and asked quietly, “Is it still all right to speak with Cyril?”
“Yes,” she replied, “young Jason is getting him ready now, but we don’t want any more of those silly headlines.”
“Absolutely not,” I replied, my mind racing back to my research and those old press clippings.
The puns were unstoppable. ‘Whisperer Has a Whale of a Time’. Then there was
‘Whisperer says “I’m not shellfish . . . I’ll tell the whole story” ’. . . and even ‘Oh My Cod,
He’s At It Again!’
As we moved out of the office and towards the lift, matron said, “Cyril will be ninety next
year and we all feel he deserves a restful retirement.”
“Of course,” I said, confirming that I had received the message loud and clear. On the third
floor matron tapped lightly on the door and a friendly voice called, “Come in . . . do come
in.”
At last there he was. Cyril Limpet, the legendary Fish Whisperer.
He was swathed in white towels and seated in a high backed leather armchair. Standing
behind him was Jason his carer, with a limp but protective hand on Cyril’s shoulder.
“Excuse the strange attire,” Cyril said, “but the Doc’ only allows me to spend a couple of
hours in the pool these days, then to stop me skin going funny Jason here has to oil me
down, don’t you Jason?”
“I most certainly do, dear,” said Jason, and with a final pat on Cyril’s shoulder, glared at me
and minced out of the room.
“Don’t you mind him,” said Cyril. “He’s a bit possessive but means well. Now then, I’ve very much enjoyed our correspondence. You dug up a lot of the stuff I’d forgotten. That sea lion on the beach in Skegness! Dear oh dear, he was a miserable sod. Didn’t have a good word for anyone! And as for that shoal of cod off Yarmouth, I’ve never known such a happy bunch, I still smile at some of their stories!”
“Cyril” I said, “I have one really important question.” There was a pause, and Cyril said,
“Oh yes . . . go on then.”
“They call you a Fish Whisperer but do you actually speak to fish?” Cyril smiled.
“Well that’s the fifty thousand dollar question isn’t it?
“People don’t realise that most ‘Whisperers’ don’t say a word, they just have the knack of understanding what an animal is ‘saying’.
“The ‘Whisperer’ thing was a press invention. I told them time and again that I simply communicate. I can hear what fish are on about and most of the time they can hear me. I was really happy doing what I did. I wasn’t too good in fresh water, except with carp . . . Clever buggers they are! But I could understand anything that swam in salt water. I enjoyed helping people understand the fishes’ point of view.”
“So why give it up?” I said “You were still a relatively young man in the 1960s.”
Cyril looked sad for a moment but then he smiled and said, “Silly really, but I couldn’t stand them taking the ‘Mickey’ all the time. Everywhere I went they seemed to know the story.”
I waited a moment and said “The story?”
Cyril gazed into the distance. “I’ve not told anyone this for over forty years,” he said, “and I shan’t tell it ever again.”
He took a deep breath and a calm seemed to settle over him as if he was about to free himself of a troublesome burden. “Bridlington,” he said with a far away look in his eyes. “Lovely spot in those days. Not many knew that about two miles out and only twenty or thirty feet down, there was a population of squid. I happened on them by mistake. They were right chatterboxes!
“Wanted to know how I could hold me breath so long. I told them it was a secret I’d learnt from a pearl diver from Sri Lanka. I don’t know if they knew where that was, but it shut ’em up for five minutes! I used to go and see them fairly regular but on one visit, I noticed that one of the older members of the group was missing. None of them knew where he was, said he’d just gone off on his own. I looked around for a bit, went up for air twice, but eventually found him just sitting on a rock looking a bit forlorn. He said he hadn’t been feeling the ‘full shillin’ for about a week and he reckoned he was about to die and could I help him get home. I was about to try when I glimpsed a movement out of the corner of my eye. It was a bloody great shark! ‘What do you want?’ I said. ‘Not you mate,’ he said, ‘but you appear to be standing between me and my lunch!’
“I have no idea why, but I decided to try and appeal to his better nature. I explained that the squid was very ill and just wanted to get home to die. I pointed out that if he had an ounce of compassion in his soul he’d help him. Well this shark looks at me, then at the squid, and after what seemed like a lifetime says, ‘Come on then . . . jump on. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The squid heaved himself up on to the back of the shark, told him were he wanted to go and off they went. I followed a little way behind but just when I thought all was going well, another shark come towards us from the opposite direction. Apparently his name was Nigel and he stopped for a word with my shark. ‘How you goin’ then Brian?’ he says. ‘Not so bad,’ says my shark. ‘Yerself?’ ‘Oh you know, some and some,’ says Nigel. ‘Ere what’s that on your fin?’ ‘Well I’m glad to have bumped into you,’ he replies. ‘Why’s that?’ says Nigel. Well my shark pauses for a moment, looks back at me, then looks at Nigel and says ‘Here’s the sick squid I owe you!’”
Cyril Limpet, the legendary Fish Whisperer, looked me straight in the eye and waited for my reaction. I did my utmost not to laugh but when I tried to speak I completely lost it. I laughed. Cyril laughed too, in fact we both laughed till we cried. Eventually, wiping a tear from his eye, he said, “Why did I give it up? Who’d take me seriously after that?”

 

For Waterlog subscription details go to www.waterlogmagazine.com

 

 

The Ladies’ Advantage

I don’t remember when I first read about Miss Ballantyne’s record 64lb salmon that she caught on the Tay in 1922, but I do remember thinking, ‘Good for her. Everyone needs a bit of luck!’
Over the years, I’ve read most of the theories about why lady anglers catch bigger and better fish than us chaps… More…

I don’t remember when I first read about Miss Ballantyne’s record 64lb salmon that she caught on the Tay in 1922, but I do remember thinking, ‘Good for her. Everyone needs a bit of luck!’
Over the years, I’ve read most of the theories about why lady anglers catch bigger and better fish than us chaps. Frankly, I dismissed these scribblings as a series of poor excuses invented by men who wanted to prove that they were at an unfair disadvantage, when outfished by the fairer sex . . . Akin to some new kind of bait mix or mystical fly, how could they possibly compete if they were lacking this mysterious ingredient? If I’d had the sense to pay a little more attention to detail, I would have realised that this research was, in fact, based on an irrevocable truth.
Nearly twenty years ago I met Gelly, the lady who is now my wife. I was attracted to her for all the obvious reasons but I soon discovered a bonus benefit . . . she was about to produce John Wilson’s first fishing series being filmed around the world!
Naturally I asked permission to tag along, but was told firmly but with a smile, “No darling . . . I’m working!” Undeterred, I took her to a private carp lake in the hope that my skills as an angler might impress, and that I would be recognised as the ideal companion to accompany her on this worldwide trip. I explained the intricacies of the fixed-spool reel, showed her how to rig the bait and even allowed her to cast her own rod. It wasn’t the greatest cast but it didn’t go into the bushes on the opposite bank or fall on the ground behind her!
I was answering the call of nature about an hour later, when I heard the bite-alarm and Gelly’s call, “It’s all right darling. I’ve got it!” When I returned she was in the water wearing my waders and giving considerable sidestrain to a carp that weighed in at 17lb. The first of four that day!
I didn’t accompany her on her shoot, but since that outing we have fished together whenever we can and organise our own ‘round the world’ fishing adventures. Our holidays are the best of times and until recently I have chosen to ignore the fact that my wife usually catches the biggest fish. There was the 80lb tarpon and the 60lb cobia in Florida. The 8lb bonefish in the Caribbean. The enormous ray, and the shark that took nearly an hour to bring to the boat. I would always offer my congratulations but still secretly believed that these catches were more to do with luck and the skill of the guide. Undoubtedly these were contributing factors, but it was not until a couple of years ago when Gelly decided to take up the fly rod that I started to have my suspicions that all that research into what we’ll call the ‘Ladies’ Advantage’ might have some merit.
We had been invited to spend a day on the river Itchen and, towards the end of the morning, I was proudly having my photograph taken with a brown trout of just under four pounds that I had caught on a nymph. I was convinced that it would be the fish of the day. Not a chance! Gelly appeared with a fish of 4lb 2oz! I’ve now had that fish set up in a bow-fronted glass case. It gazes down on our dining-table as a constant reminder that ‘mine was bigger than yours . . . darling!’
More recently we were the guests of Chris and Christine Patrick in Sarasota, Florida. An hour south of the city is Charlotte Harbour where we fished for snook in the mangroves. Chris and I did quite well with fish of around six pounds. Gelly’s best was 10lb! We then travelled on to Nashville, Tennessee, to stay with our good friend Peter Collins. We fished the J. Percy Priest Lake at dawn for hybrid striped bass. Peter and I had good fish to seven pounds but when my good lady decided she’d ‘have a go’, she landed, at 14lb, what our guide Jay Clementi described as a ‘hog’!
Believe it or not, there are over twenty species that will take a fly in the rivers and lakes around Nashville, but our most interesting outing was for the buffalo carp. Our guide was Jim Mauries who runs Fly South, an excellent fly shop in town and highly recommended. He’d invited us to try for these strange fish on our last morning but asked if he could bring his son along. I imagined a lad of about twelve years old. Thomas turned out to be three and rode in a harness on Jim’s back for the duration of the fishing. ‘Buffalos’ are tricky to catch. The fly must be presented about two feet in front of the fish as it ‘grubs’ along the bottom. When they take, it’s an explosive experience and you’d better have enough backing on your reel. Jim and I caught some memorable fish and in case you are wondering why Gelly didn’t catch the biggest one, the answer is simple. That was the morning she decided to have a lie in!

 

My book A Wellie Full of Water is available from www.MedlarPress.com