fly tying

Simple to Make Fly Holder for Fly-tying batch tasks.


OK this is not about to be earth shattering, but I was looking for a fly holder that would hold flies securely, so I could “batch” process tasks i.e. adding UV cure resin, or head cement.

So I grabbed an old fly-line spool, joined the two halves together, put a blob of 5 minute epoxy regularly spaced around the outside edge, and added line-testers. Just one thing, make sure the  clip of the line tester is parallel to the edge of the spool.

Jobs done. ‘

Now I can hold the spool in one hand and do what I have to do to finish off the flies. It is also good for taking outside on a sunny day to get a really good UV resin cure.

Posted by Tony Bishop in fishing flies, fly fishing how-to, fly tying

Get Down and Get Ugly: Chris Dore’s Creeper Fly



Chris Dore is one of New Zealand’s top guides; specialising in the south of the South Island of New Zealand. He has a a very refreshing attitude to fishing and fly tying – and ‘keep it simple’ seems to be his watch-word. But making things simple requires a lot of knowledge and experience – Chris has a heap of both.

Chris ties these ugly brutes for early season headwaters on size 6 to 10 long shank hooks ( I think I will use Tiemco 200R to give a slight bend). The rest you can pretty much work out for yourself.

Wrap some lead (or substitute) around the hook, tie in a bunch of black hair or fur for a tail, tie in copper (or gold?) wire, and some black flexi-body or any stretchy sheet, dub up to 2/3 with hares ear, then some black dubbing, for thorax and head. Pull the back over the fly and tie down at the head. (Quick tip: before you cut off the back, pull the excess back towards the tail and throw in a few ‘locking turns’ to really secure the back). Follow with the wire to form segments, and tie off at the head, whip finish and give it a dab or two of head cement. Simple. Quick. Done.

I suggested adding some wriggly rubber legs – Chris said he used to, but now does not bother because the fly is just as effective naked. Simplicity again.

Chris describes the fly as his ‘get noticed fly’, to fish in edge waters and boulder runs. Go easy on the lead, you want the fly to move through where heavier flies would snag.

That is about. I will be tying up a bunch of Creepers and Glister Nymphs for a trip to the central North island in early October, as Spring gets into full swing here.

Posted by Tony Bishop in fly fishing, fly tying, Fresh water how-to, New Zealand Fishing

Pretty accurate hook size chart – if you print it

Finding an accurate hook size chart has been difficult, many are wildly inaccurate, even from reputable manufacturers – but at last I found one.

I have just uploaded a PDF document of Tiemco fly and salt water hooks. The sizes appear to be fairly accurate, but only if you print the chart at 100%. Sizes on your screen are not accurate as they are distorted by the pixel setting your screen uses.

The hook styles and shapes do not cover all hooks, but all the basics are there, so it is an excellent overall guide.

For full run-down of hook information see this.

Posted by Tony Bishop in Articles and stories on fishing in general, big game fishing, fishing flies, fly tying, salt water fishing, salt water fishing tackle

Charlie Craven’s Fly Box


I have just read Charlie Craven’s latest book, and yet again it is a superb piece of work. The extremely high standard of the fly tying tutorials, both in terms of the writing and photography makes the construction of the flies very easy to follow.

While it is probably true that none of the flies in the book are truly new, it is also probably true that most ‘new’ flies are variations on a theme. In Charlie Craven’s case it is the value of the innovative materials he uses to construct his flies and the equally innovative tying methods he demonstrates, that sets the book apart from others.

I defy even experienced fly-tyers  not to learn a good deal from the pages. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. You can get it at Amazon.

Posted by Tony Bishop in fly tying

Fly Tying – Put a cap on the mess

Cap rubbish collector

One of the more irritating features of fly-tying is the mess that can be created by the cut, hacked, sliced and diced bits of fur, feather, wire, thread, and more. The mess invades the fly-tying desk and the floor. All guaranteed to create disharmony in a previously happy home.

I have tried all kinds of proprietary gizmos to capture the dross – typically expensive, invariably pretty much useless.

But I have come up with a cheap and effective demessifier, that takes seconds to make.

Grab an old baseball cap, cut off the peak, undo the clip at the back of the cap and place it around the stem of your vise. Job done.

That is it – harmony returns to your desk, floor and home. Beaut eh!

Posted by Tony Bishop in fly tying

New fishing quotes and sayings – Feb 2, 2010

Five new fishing quotes and sayings are up now – numbers 921 – 925.

My pick of this group, number 922…

During the past two decades we have seen an explosion in the popularity of fly fishing. Thousands of new fly fishermen, and women, have embraced the sport and taken up fly tying as a part of it. During this same period we have had a proliferation in new tying materials; and new magazines abound espousing and rehashing the many nuances of tying. After fifty plus years of fly tying, I am always amused by tyers who purport to have discovered a brand new technique. Truth to be told there seems to be little that is truly new in the fly tying world. Claims of hot new patterns consistently appear that are nothing more than recycled variations or modifications using new materials on an old, forgotten fly.

– Ian Moutter ‘Tying Flies The Paraloop Way’

Posted by Tony Bishop in fishing quotes, fly tying

A magnetic little tip for finding fumbled flies

There are in this fishing world of ours thousands of hints, tricks, and tips to make things easier or more effective. Most of us I guess read them, say to ourselves, ‘now that is a good idea, I must use that’ – and promptly forget around 99% of them!

Well a couple of months ago I read a tip in a UK fly-fishing magazine that was simplicity in itself, designed to solve a problem that affects us all, sometime or other.

So there I was on a nice piece of water, catching a few nice trout on a new fly I was trialling, till one a bit better than my skills took it away. So I opened my fly box and the other one of the two I tied fell into the grass at my feet. Do you think I could find it – no chance.

Now back to that tip that drifted out of my memory when I was not looking. Simply tie a small  but powerful magnet onto a length of string, and when you drop a fly ‘troll’ the magnet around the area where the fly fell. Beautiful – but forgotten. So no magnet, not string, no fly. Bugger.

OK, so just when I needed it, the magnet on a string tip snuck back into my memory. But as I said no magnet, no string. But I finally thought, my landing net is tied to a magnet, that connects to another magnet attached to the loop  behind my neck.  I detached my net and slowly ‘trolled’ the magnet through the grass at my feet, and a fly attached itself. Actually not my fly but a well trampled previously dropped specimen by someone as clumsy as me.

I can report that I did find my fly – but also have to report that despite the fact it’s brother caught a number of fish, the ‘lost’ fly failed to live up to the promise of the former. Still I did manage to cement the magnet tip into my brain cells, and at my age that is a good capture in itself.

Postscript:  If you tie flies, the magnet on a string tip has another use. When you drop a hook on the floor, as you do, especially a carpet covered floor, and more especially the dropped hook is small, a magnet on a string finds the little blighter quickly.

Posted by Tony Bishop in fly fishing how-to, fly fishing tips, fly tying

5 more fishing quotes and sayings – Nov 1, 2009

Five more fishing quotes are up now, numbers 886 – 890.

This one is my pick:

“Have you ever noticed that trout seem to take better as our fly gets more ragged? Think I’ll start tying ragged flies. Hell, on second thought, I don’t even have to think about it, because my flies come out of the vise that way.”
– Jimmy D Moore

This quote is very pertinent to me. Have a look at this article and the allure of the Rufazgutz fly

“The first rule of successful fishing tackle retailing is first catch your fisherman.
I saw far too many illustrations of the truth of this rule in my years in the tackle business to argue against it.

This rule is based on a simple premise – the better a lure or fly looks to the angler the more likely money will change hands. The paint jobs on some lures are so good you could swear they could be floured, battered, fried, and served with  chips (or fries if you live in the US). But what is eminently edible to our eyes is not necessarily mouth-watering to a fish.”

Posted by Tony Bishop in fishing quotes, fly tying

Fugly Foam Flies for Fabulous Fishing

I was first introduced to foam flies around ten years ago. One of my favourite dry flies up to that point was the big ugly ‘Madam X’, which is basically a big clump of deer or elk hair, over a yellow body, with rubber legs in the shape of an X, hence the name.

Madam X was very successful for me, but it had a major drawback, the same one that affects all fur, hair and feather dry-flies, you have to dry the damn things every five seconds.montanahopper

So when I saw foam flies I was hooked, and as it transpires so were plenty of fish. I would back a big fugly foam fly splashed down over fish feeding on miniscule somethings, to an imitative pattern any day.

Read the rest of the story here.

Posted by Tony Bishop in fishing flies, fly tying

Charlie Craven’s Basic Fly Tying (hardcover)


Charlie Craven is one of the best tutors of fly tying I have come across. I first came across his marvellous work in John Barr’s book ‘Barr Flies’ – Charlie did the tutorials in that book backed up by superb step by step photos. I think they set a new standard in fly tying tutoring.

Now Charlie has his own book out , ‘Charlie Craven’s Basic Fly Tying’.

Basic fly tying? I guess it is if you look at the flies he has chosen to present, but on every page are tips and tricks that I guarantee will have you smacking yourself on the forehead, and thinking “why didn’t I think of that.”

Anyone working through this book will have covered most of the ground needed to tie almost any fly. If anything Charlie’s photos and words have exceeded the standard he set in the Barr book.

I have been fly-tying for over 40 years, and I still learned heaps. If you are starting out fly-tying get this book, do not delay – so you do not learn the bad habits we old tyers have picked up. If you have a friend or family member just starting tying, buy it as  a present, they will continue to thank you for it for years to come, every time they sit at the fly-tying desk.

Cannot recommend it highly enough.

Posted by Tony Bishop in fly fishing how-to, fly tying