I like how designing flies merges creativity with nature and her laws, and that fish are the ultimate impartial judges.
When I first began fishing in New Zealand, I found that even with good presentation many fish were only fooled with good imitations of what they were feeding on. This experience set me on a path of developing accurate imitations of all the main insects and fish that trout like eating.
I spent many hours in the pages of a growing collection of books and other literature, which did not provide the visual detail necessary to accurately replicate important 'trout prey'.
Scientific papers had good information on life-cycles and species identification but did not often include colour photographs. Popular articles and books did provide photographs of insect dorsal (top) surfaces, but the ventral (underneath) surfaces, variations in colour, and appearances while drifting on or under water, were not easily found.
I began observing and studying insects and other 'trout prey' in, on, and alongside rivers, recording details and taking the photographs I needed to faithfully imitate them.
Evolving fly designs flowed continuously through my head, but promising prototypes rarely matched the mental image. When they did, they often did not behave on or in the water the way naturals did.
Developing new designs took months, even years.
I knew a fly was done when I was no longer plagued by ideas of improving it. Or when the pattern rested peacefully in my mind, without morphing into a thousand variants.
After travelling this creative design path for 17 years, I am in the process of collating my research, photographs and fly patterns into a book on designing flies.
Below are some of my tried-and-true fly patterns, with information on their design and step by step tying instructions.
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Introduction to wonders of Stretch Cord
Jelly Bloodworm and Jelly Grub
Jelly Leg Colly
Jelly Bellow Minnow
Jelly Crimp Nymph
Hot Foam Hopper
Hare's Mask Darter
Silicone Wing Cicada - Designing the Fly
Silicone Wing Cicada - Tying Steps
Gurgle Pop Minnow
Cutting your own Foam Cylinder