The aim of this blog is to connect fly-tyers all over the world, to share, techniques, patterns, information and knowledge.

Archive for September, 2012


Contre-jour Fine art photographic prints

Arctic char detail from the comming Contre-jour exhibition of photographs by Barry Ord Clarke

The 32 images in this coming exhibition endorse Barry’s love and passion for the sport as a fly fisherman, photographer and artist.  The viewer is taken on a journey into the world of fly fishing that is rarely seen. On first encountering these beautiful images, they are sufficiently recognizable as images of fish and fishing, but as you approach and view them at close range, they transform into a graphic and sometimes abstract, overlapping of organic patterns and colour.

All images are for sale, signed and numbered by the artist. Barry is also making a series of limited photographs with hand tied flies in beautiful mounted frames. I will keep you posted regarding the exhibition. For sales and enquires please contact:

Skyrise. Black & White hand print 80×60 cm

Vulgate mayflies. Colour hand print 80×60 cm.

Sea trout fishing. 80×60 cm Black & White hand print


New Hatches cover shot

Check out my stone fly nymph photo on the cover of the new Hatches magazine.

A Shrimp for all seasons

Circle shrimp

From late autumn until early spring the majority of bait fish around our coastline leave the shallows and head out for deeper water where they will be protected from the bitter cold of winter. Many of the species of shrimp that can be found on the other hand move into deeper tidal pools and onto shelves were the coastline is steeper.

Therefor shrimps are on the coastal sea trout’s menu the whole year round, and are found in great numbers all over Northern Europe’s coastline.  These are particularly important to fly fishermen because they mature in the shallows where we do most of our fishing, and all sea trout fishermen should have at least a couple of good shrimp patterns in there fly box at all times.

The most effective colours for shrimp patterns in my experience are Red, Pink, White and Orange.  Sometimes it can be rewarding to tie some very small shrimp flies in sizes 10-12-14 and in more natural mundane colours. Shrimps of all shapes and sizes are without doubt one of the most important food sources for salt water sea trout. Unlike other important seasonal foods like rag worms, sand eels and small bait fish, that the sea trout feed on throughout their first years in salt water.

 Where, When & Why ?

A perfect small translucent shrimp pattern fished blind, is not the most easy prey for a sea trout to notice in a large body of water. But if you fish something that   “ stands out in a crowd ” a little colour and movement,  increase the chances of it being noticed and picked-up proportionally.  Natural selection takes a favorable view of effective and adaptable feeding, a proficient predatory fish when feeding will maximize energy intake and minimize energy consumption. Predators quickly learn to avoid areas where there is little or no food. These rules also apply to the fish adapting their feeding locations and habits to the different seasons.  So its paramount that the effective fly fisherman is aware of this and adapts his techniques, flies and strategy to that of the sea trouts feeding habits. This is especially important during the winter months when food is few and far between. Look for the signs, deeper bays with vegetation and structure, where prey can have sufficient food and cover from predators. If there is ice on the surface, pockets of open water generally indicate warmer water or flow. Both these elements will attract prey and predators alike.

Fast or Slow ?

Shrimp have three very different ways of locomotion. When foraging for food or resting on the bottom they use their front walking legs (periopods) for moving short distances on vegetation and other structure. When migrating or moving over larger distances they use their swimming legs (pleopods) These are located under the abdomen and undulate (like a Mexican wave) when swimming, and can be used to propel the crustacean in all directions slowly. But when alarmed or fleeing from a predator they use a contraction of their strong abdomen muscle which results in a powerful rapid snap of the tail plates (uropods) propelling the shrimp quickly backwards.

With this in mind one has a better understanding of the type of retrieve required to imitate a swimming or fleeing shrimp. Your retrieve will not only decide the speed of your fly but also its action in the water. If you know your prey and choose the correct retrieve, your overall chances of connecting will increase. If you choose the incorrect retrieve even the right pattern may not result in a take or even a follow.

Secure the circle hook in the vice.

Run the tying thread along the hook shank until it hangs over the barb of the circle hook.

Tie inn two lengths of lead wire side by side on the underside of the whole of the hook shaft length. This will ensure that the shrimp fishes a little deeper and the right way up. Tie in a short bunch of Ultra hair as shown on top of the hook shank. This should be approximately 10 cm long. You can trim it down to the size and taper required later.

Once you have trimmed it down to size you can tie in a small bunch of twinkle or crystal hair to add a little sparkle. This should be a little longer than the Ultra hair.

Burn the ends of two lengths of mono and dip in black varnish and then coat with Bug Bond. These should be prepared before hand as they take some time to dry. Alternatively you can use fly eyes.

Tie in the eyes one each side of the ultra hair as shown. these should be about one third of the beard length.

Select two hackles for the claws. This detail can be left out if wished, but its a useful technique to know for other shrimp and crab patterns.

Strip off the fibers from the shaft of the hackle and carefully cut away the point of the hackle to form a claw shape of the correct size in correspondence to the hook size being used.

I use Bug Bond a UV cure resin to coat the claws. If you dont have Bug Bond you can alternatively use epoxy, it just takes a little more time to dry.

Coat the claws in Bug Bond and give them a few seconds under the UV light, until cured.

Tie in the finished claws one each side at the bottom of the shrimp beard as shown.

Cut a length of crystal chenille and tie in at the base of the shrimp head.

Wrap the chenille around the whole length of the hook shaft to form the body. You should take care as to comb the fibers forward each turn, so you dont trap them with the following turn and get a nice full body.

Tie off the Crystal chenille and trim off the fibers on top of the hook shank as shown.

Now tie in two long Ultra hair fibers, just behind the hook eye.

Tie in another bunch of Ultra hair fibers at the tail of the fly. These should be just a little longer than the existing bunch.

Firstly make a whip finish and remove your tying thread.
Now place a drop of Bug Bond on the Ultra hair just behind the hook eye. Unlike epoxy Bug Bond doesn’t dry unless exposed to a UV lamp of natural day light.

Give the Bug Bond a blast with the UV light for a few seconds. Now while holding all the long ultra hair fibers down with your left hand apply a small amount of Bug Bond or epoxy to form the shell back. Be sure not to use too much epoxy as this will make the pattern top heavy and fish up side down. You may have to hold the ultra hair in place a short while until it sets.
Repeat this process until the whole shrimp shell back is adhered to the chenille body and forms a nice transparent shell that tapers off just beyond the shrimps eyes.

To give a little extra touch to the pattern pull the two long fibers between your finger and thumb nail, as you would do with ribbon on a christmas gift to curl it. Your finished circle shrimp ready for the salt.

Edson Tiger



The modifide Edson Tiger with the Brass Eyes.

One of the great classic American streamers, developed by the well know fly tier  Bill Edson in 1929. The Edson Tiger dark & light where influenced by a streamer called “Dick´s Killer” that Edson received from fellow fly tier Dick Eastman of New Hampshire in 1928.  The original patterns tied and sold by Edson where with jungle cock cheeks, but later he replaced the jungle cock with small teardrop brass plates which was apparently done, not only because of the increasing price of the already expensive jungle cock but also difficulty in obtaining a regular supply of it. But soon after the introduction of the metal cheeks they became so popular with his customers that they replaced the jungle cock on all his streamer patterns. But truth be told,  the metal cheeks added a whole new dimension to how the patterns fished. With extra flash and weight in his streamers, there where few other patterns at this time that offered this. Although this pattern is almost a century old it still accounts for many a trout and has proven an excellent late season pattern for salt water sea trout fishing here in Scandinavia. A couple of years ago while tying at the Dutch fly fair, I was lucky enough to meet Chris Helm, who had for sale, the Edson Brass eyes.

Chris Helm doing his thing at the Dutch fly fair

If you contact Chris and purchase these eyes to add that extra dimension to you Tigers they do need a little work doing to them before they are ready to tie in. Using a pair of sharp wire cutters, these are not difficult to cut, they are made from brass after all, but sharp cutters make for a neater finish. You need to trim the side of the eye that is square into a point. Once this is done I use emery paper to sand the edges of the point to a fine taper, otherwise you will get a distinct mark under the tying thread where the the eye is secured.

Hook: Standard streamer # 6

Tag: Flat gold tinsel

Tail: Barred wood duck

Body: Peacock herl

Wing: Yellow buck tail

Topping: Red hackle fibers

Cheeks: Jungle cock or Edson Brass Eyes

Head:  Yellow varnish

Secure your streamer hook in the vice. Attach your tying thread and run this along the hook shank.  Tie in a length of flat gold tinsel for the tag, this should be just three or four turns.

Once you have tied off your tag and removed the surplus you can tie in three or four long strands of peacock herl at the base of the tag.

Select a wood duck flank feather with good barring and cut out a slip, line up all the bars if uneven and fold in half. This will give barring on each side of the tail. Tie off.

Run the tying thread back to the tail and twist together the peacock herl and tying thread to strengthen it and wind on to form the body. Tie off the peacock herl.

Select and clean a small bunch of yellow buck tailf or the wing. Stack the hair in a hair stacker. This should be no longer than the tail end.

The topping is a small bunch of red hackle fibers tied in on top of the wing as shown. It should be approximately one-third of the total wing length.

Now tie in the jungle cock cheeks, one each side. Make sure that both jungle cock eye´s are equal in size and well balanced. Whip finish.

All that is left to be done now to finish your EdsonnTiger is varnish the head yellow.

The Eyes are available along with a good

selection of Mustad streamer hooks from

Chris Helm at:

E-Z Sand Eel

A great pattern for salt water sea trout and Sea Bass.

Hook Mustad S70SNP-DT Big Game Light # 4-6

Thread Dyneema

Body E-Z body tube

Tail 15 strands of Flashabou 

Eyes Fleye Foils

Head Bug Bond

The original pattern this is based on is form the vice of my late, old friend Jack Gartside. This is not only an extremely effective pattern but also requires the minimum materials and once you have mastered the technique is very quick to tie.

Like the most effective coast wobblers that represent Tobis this pattern is a darter, and has next to no movement in the materials, but like a fleeing sand eel it “darts” in a short fast “zig zag” movement.  Another “problem” for many fly fishermen is that the hook on this pattern is mounted at the head of the fly, leaving a good length of body for the sea trout, sea bass to bite at without being hooked.  This can be the case with smaller fish but larger fish tend to take this pattern contant.  Also a interesting little experiment that I have undertaken a few times is, if you are cleaning a fish that you see has been feeding on sand eels just have a look at which way the head of the sand eel is facing in the stomach of the fish, nearly always, has the sand eel been swallowed head first!  The attach point for pradatory fish is the eyes and these new Fleye foils from Bob Popovics make very realistic sand eel and bait fish patterns.

Sand eels shoal in very large numbers, but are seldom seen during the day in the shallows as they lie buried in the sand, away from predators.  They first appear during the evening, when they come out to feed through the night.  But despite there nocturnal habits sand eel patterns can be fished around the clock the whole year.

You can also try other colour combinations, but keep in mind the general rule of the lightest colour on the stomach and the darkest colour on the back.

Secure your salt water hook in the vice. I like to use a Mustad C70SNP Big game light for this patter beacause of its wide gape and short shank.

Take a length of medium E-Z Body tubing about 6-7-cm long. Measure the the tubing along the hook shank, so that you know where to insert the hook eye into the tube.

Make a opening in the tube where you are going to thread it onto the hook shank.

Thread the tube onto your hook as shown.

Slide the tube back and attach your tying thread behind the hook eye.

Thread a long loop of mono through the E-Z body tube towards the tail.

Thread the bunch of Flashabou through the mono loop and pull this through the tube and out at the hook eye.

Tie down the Flashabou just behind the hook eye.

Tie in the end of the tube and make a neat tight head.

Select your chosen Fleye Foil product. I have used small 25 mm. sand eel foils.

Remove the Fleye Foils from there card and stick them in place, one each side of the eel head and tie down using the small attachment on the foils.

Once you have whip finished and removed your tying thread, turn your fly in the vice so you can tie down the tail at the base of the E-Z body tube. Once secure give it a small drop of Bug Bond just to hold it in place. Remove tying thread and reset hook the correct way in the vice.

The sand eel should now look like this. You can trim the Flashabou tail down to your required size and shape.

You can now colour your sand eel if wished with water proof felt markers.

Carefully coat the foils and head of the eel with Bug Bond and cure with the UV light as you go.

If you want a more three dimentional effect make small colour ajustments with felt pens after every coat of Bug Bond. This builds up layers and gives more depth.

If you ‘open’ the tail of Flashabou and place a tiny drop of Bug Bond at the base and cure! the tail will remain flaired and open.

One of the great things about E-Z body tube is that it remains flexible.

Fleye Foils. Orders and info at:

Bug Bond. Orders and info at:

E-Z Body Orders and info at:

Mayflies and More

A Fly tyers’ Guide to the Chalkstreams

Mayflies and More

A fly tyers Guide to the Chalkstreams

Chris Sandford

Chris is better known in the UK for his many years work as an actor and his numerous appearances on TV and in Film.  More recently for his international angling TV series, Just Fishin’ on the Discovery channel.

Mayflies and More, is an elegant, well presented little book and DVD combo, that covers the tying techniques for ten modern patterns, that Chris recommends for the English chalk-streams. Although these patterns will work just about anywhere else as well!

If you are relatively new to fly tying and wish to try something a little more challenging than a red tag, or even a well seasoned tyer for that matter, Mayflies and More, is a joy.

The DVD reflects Chris’s background in TV and film, through a clearly professional production and execution, unlike the majority of the fly tying DVD’s produced to date! Chris, also has the on-screen charisma, to make these ten patterns, not only fun to tie, but also to keep you entertained throughout. It also gives extra clarity to the already clear and well presented step by step images and text in the book. These are simple but extremely worthy patterns to tie and include in your fly box.

Booklet & DVD £19.80

Copies: Unlimited

Extent: 32 pages plus DVD

Size: 210mm x 148mm

Binding: Booklet with inset DVD

Illustrations: Photographs throughout

DVD Running Time: 70 minutes

To order:

Chris Sandford Mayflies & More

Check out a preview of the DVD on the link below:

Chris Sandford talks about “Mayflies & More …