Guest Speaker: Karl Humphries 3rd October 2019

Karl has become a regular guest presenter / fly tying demonstrator at our club. Before this demonstration he gave his take on the state of fly fishing on the welsh rivers. The National Resources Wales (NRW) new regulations are already in operation on the River Severn (by emergency bylaw) and will be legally enforced on all welsh rivers from the start of the 2020 season. The changes for salmon fishing include mandatory catch and release, use of single hooks only (no doubles or trebles) and bait restrictions (no worm).

Karl felt that these regulations were unenforceable and would probably result in a loss of revenue to the NRW, as all salmon catches are returned, there is no difference between accidental by-catch and catch and release. Equally the regulations are not particularly well drafted as they specifically ban use of double and treble hooks, which would not prevent an angler using a quad hook!

Karl went on to demonstrate eight flies that he personally found to be productive for river fishing for both Grayling and Trout.

A Simple CDC Dry fly (F-fly)

Hook: Size 14 light wire
Thread: Fluorescent pink tag and burgundy 14/0 thread
Body: Stripped natural peacock quill
Wing: 4 to 5 natural CDC feathers
Head: Varnished thread wraps.

Comments
Karl started this fly by tying the fluorescent pink tag above the bend of the hook, producing a bead profile, and doubling the waste thread end over the bead before ‘tying in’ and then changing to Burgundy coloured thread. 

He demonstrated stripping the peacock quill with his fingernails but said that this could also be done using a pencil eraser.  The stripped quill was tied in the length of the body by touching turn thread wraps taken to about 2mm from the hook eye.  The quill was then used to create a body with overlapping turns and tied in with the excess then removed.  He recommended using varnish to coat the quill and tag to make the construction more robust.


The CDC feathers (4 to 5) were laid tip to tip on top of one another with the natural curve upwards and bunched and twisted to produce a robust wing.  This was tied in about 1mm from the eye with the feather barbules the about the length of the hook, and the excess cut off, making sure that the thread was not accidentally cut with it.  He recommended turning the vice head 90° so that when the thread wraps for the head were tied the thread did not slip off over the hook eye. The head was then whip finished and varnished.

Karl recommended use of CDC oil as floatant when fishing this fly.

The Mini Orange Butt Prince Nymph

Hook: Kamasan B175 or similar size 10 or 12
Tag: Orange Glo-Bright No. 5
Thread: Black 14/0, Rib: medium yellow gold wire
Tail / Wing: Chocolate brown / white goose biots
Body: Red fox dubbing, Hackle: Ginger hen Head Varnished thread wraps

Comments
The fire orange floss tag was tied in as a ball-profile (to separate the tail biots).  After changing to black thread the body was made with 2 layers of touching turn thread wraps ending at the tag.  Two chocolate brown goose biots, held back to back and tied in to splay-out over the tag. Gold wire was tied in on top of the hook by touching-turn thread wraps taken back to tag.  Red fox fur dubbing (mixture of under and guard hair fur from skin) was applied to thread, as required, to produce a carrot shaped body profile – Karl recommended using multiple small applications of dubbing, saying that it is easier to add dubbing than remove excess from the thread.  The body was ribbed with 5‑turns of the gold wire, tied-in, and the excess wire removed by rotating until breaking.  The ginger hen hackle was tied in by the tip (removing the end of the feather to aid tying in) and 2-3 turns of hackle added folding the barbules down the body of the fly.  Finally, the wings were added by tying-in 2 white goose biots, and the head built up, tied off with thread wraps, whip finished and varnished.

The Stick Fly

Hook: Partridge Grey Shadow heavyweight hook size 10
Thread: Burgundy 14/0
Rib: Gold wire
Body: Natural peacock herl (2-strands)
Hackle: Ginger hen

Comments
The thread was started at the eye with wraps (touching turns) to a point opposite the barb of the hook.  The wire rib tied in length of body and then 2 strands peacock herl also tied in length of body with the thread returned to eye.  The herl body was constructed and tied in short of the hook eye (to leave space for the hackle) and the excess cut off.  The herl body was ribbed with 5-turns in the opposite direction to those of the herl and tied in and excess wire removed as before.  The ginger hackle was tied in and 2-3 turns of hackle added folding the barbules down the body of the fly.  The head built up with thread wraps, whip finished and varnished.

Traditional (English) Pink Shrimp pattern

Hook: Size 10 grub hook, weighted with lead
Thread: Burgundy 14/0
Rib: Clear 12lb BS mono
Body cover: Pink scud back ¼”
Body: Hends Spectra dubbing; pink SA-041 and rainbow SA- 952.

Comments:
The hook was weighted with round lead wire creating a bug-shaped profile by 2 layers, the second towards the upper end of the body.  The lead was tied in with a lattice of sparse thread wraps then touching turns of thread to the bend of the hook.  The lead was locked in by varnishing and a short length of monofilament fishing line tied in as a rib along the back of the hook shank and the pink shell-back (end cut to a point) also.  These materials were secured by touching turn thread wraps to a point at the start of the bend of the hook.   A small quantity of pink dubbing was applied to the thread and wraps used to create the first 1/3
rd of the body length.  Rainbow spectra dubbing was then used to create the central potion, returning to pink to finish off the body to a head-length short of the hook eye.  The shell-back was then folded over the dubbing and tied in at the head and stretched tight before cutting off the excess.  The body ribbed with the monofilament line which was tied in and the excess cut off.  The dubbing material on the underside of the hook was picked out to create an appearance of legs.  The head was built up with thread wraps and whip finished.  The head and scud back was then varnished.

Gammarus Shrimp Pattern

Hook: Size 10 grub hook, weighted with lead
Thread: Burgundy 14/0 thread
Rib: Medium gold wire
Back: Raffia
Body: Soft dub caddis legs (Oliver Edwards)

Comments
This fly was produced using similar techniques to the fly pattern above.

The shell-back material was replaced with raffia and the dubbing with a dubbing brush thread.  The caddis legs’ dubbing was stroked downwards before the shell back material was pulled over the back of the hook.  All other aspects of tying were the same.

Karl’s team of spiders

Top Dropper

Top Dropper


Hook: Daiichi 1520 size 10 wide gape heavyweight
Thread: Charcoal grey 14/0
Body: Canada goose feather barbules (4-5)
Rib: Fine silver wire
Thorax: Blue Ice dubbing
Hackle: Grouse feather
Head: Thread wraps

Middle dropper

Middle Dropper

Hook: Daiichi 1520 size 10 wide gape heavyweight
Thread: Watery olive / Charcoal grey 14/0
Body: Watery olive thread wraps
Thorax: Blue Ice dubbing
Hackle: Grouse feather
Head: Glob rite floss No. 5

Point Fly

Point Fly

Hook: Daiichi 1520 size 10 wide gape heavyweight
Thread: Cerise / burgundy 14/0
Thorax: Blue Ice blended with pink dubbing
Hackle: Moorhen shoulder feather
Head: Thread wraps finished with 2-3 turns of fine silver holographic tinsel above the hackle feather

Comments
Karl tied these spiders using the same hook type and similar techniques.  His experience in river fishing has led him to rely on this pattern and he commonly fished them as a team with great success. 

The top dropper differed from the other two as it had a ribbed herl body created in a similar way to the stick fly above.  The thread bodies of the middle dropper and point fly were created with layers of touching turns thread wraps and he preferred to treat them with 4-5 coats of varnish, in a similar way to how a buzzer body is formed (although, time did not permit this at the demonstration).  Karl recommended a dubbing thorax for all his spider patterns as this improved the mobility of the spider hackle in water.  He said that the individual tier should experiment with the number of turns of the spider hackle to produce a fly that they were happy with (no rules apply).  He preferred the grouse hackle for colour and movement but used a moorhen feather for the last fly – this was a more delicate feather requiring more care to tie in.

Guest Speaker: Karl Humphries 11th October 2018

Following on from Karl’s last demonstration (2ndNovember 2017) he was asked about the current situation with game fishing in Wales. We were told that the National Resources Wales (NRW) were finalising new regulations which would probably be ratified by the Welsh Assembly in 2019.  (The following link gives the current proposals: NRW proposed fishing controls 16/3/2018).  In the North West the Border Esk and tributaries (Liddel and Eden), were made catch and release for all salmon earlier this year.  Karl thinks that the decisions being made are based on statistical analysis of poor quality data and consequently the current estimates of migratory fish numbers are probably inaccurate.  He was concerned that the Environmental Agency (EA) and NRW were not interested in and do not understand the needs of fishermen and were not the best groups to manage river fisheries.  Karl was also concerned that the proposed changes would be impossible to implement.  He felt that the salmon and sea trout license was becoming redundant (hence losing the EA revenue), as unless an angler was specifically targeting these species, any accidental catch would be released! Although Karl felt that changes were impacting negatively on game fishing, he was still enjoying and actively participating in the hobby, as evinced by his enthusiasm during the evening.

Karl then went on to demonstrate six flies that he personally found to be productive in rivers.

The Orange Spider

Hook: Size 10 or 12
Thread: Orange Glo-brite No. 5 floss tied to produce a carrot shaped body tied off and finished with 3 coats of varnish (as for a buzzer pattern). Smokey grey 14/0 thread was used for the thorax and head.
Hackle: Two to three turns of a grouse neck feather tied in by the distal end of the rachis.
Dubbing: Dun ice dub tied sparingly at the thorax to flare the spider hackle.
Head: varnished thread

Comments

A variant was also demonstrated with an orange tag and watery olive body. The fly contains no added weight; the heavily varnished body ensuring the fly sinks.  Karl recommended a technique of turning the fly through 90 °to whip finish the head as this reduced the risk of the thread unravelling over the eye of the hook. Karl generally fishes this as a team of 3 with a fly such as a ‘Greenwell’s’ as top dropper.

The Avon Bomb

Hook: Size 10 or 12 Jig Hook
Thread: Gordon Griffiths Sheer 14/0 – Burgundy
Rib: Fine Silver Wire
Hackle: Two to three turns of a grouse neck feather tied in by the distal end of the rachis.
Body: Three strands of bronze peacock herl
Wing: Short length of pink Antron mused with 6 to 8 strands of Krystal flash
Hackle: 3 to 4 turns of a ginger cock hackle
Head: 3.5mm Facetted Silver bead

Comments
A layer of tying thread, with touching turns, to the half-way down the shank.  The thread was returned with layers of thread built up to secure the bead. The thread was then taken to a point on the hook opposite the barb with the rib and peacock herl tied in and returned to the hook eye.  The herl was wound up to the thorax (leaving room for wing and hackle), secured with thread and then ribbed (opposite direction to the herl).  The wing and hackle were tied in with the thread and the wing cut to 2 to 3 mm.  The thread was varnished at the bead after whip finishing.

Hairy Green Butt Prince Nymph

Hook: Size 10 long shank, weighted with lead if desired
Thread: Veevus B17 14/0 Yellow/Chartreuse for butt, Charcoal grey 14/0 for body and head
Tail: Two brown goose biots, trimmed to 2/3rds length of shank and flared over the butt.
Rib: Medium Gold Oval Tinsel
Dubbing: Fox squirrel mixture of fur plucked from pelt.
Wing: Two white goose biots, trimmed to length of shank.
Hackle: Mid-section of a brown furnace feather, upper surface forward, tied in at distal end of rachis.
Head: Varnished head.

Dry F-Fly

Hook: #16 Medium or fine wire
Thread: 14/0 in charcoal
Body: Very sparsely dubbed fox squirrel fur
Wing: Three overlaying natural coloured CDC feathers tied in on top of head
Head: Varnished head.

Comments
The body used the residual dubbing from the Green Butt Prince Nymph. A nice way of conserving materials. Use a little CDC oil when fishing for extra buoyancy. 

Haslam Variant (Salmon / Sea Trout Fly)

Hook: #8 low water double
Thread: Gordon Griffiths Sheer 14/0 Burgandy
Tag: Glo-Brite No2 Fluoro Pink Floss
Rib: Small Oval Tinsel
Tail: Golden Pheasant crest feather
Body: Glo-brite fluorescent tinsel (or pearl mylar).
Throat Hackle: Dyed blue guinea fowl.
Wing: Natural hen pheasant tail feather.
Antenna: Two blue/gold macaw barbules from centre tail.
Eyes: Jungle cock (placed both sides).
Head: Varnished head.

Comments
Karl’s tips employed in tying this fly included:

Flattening the base of the golden pheasant crest feather to ensure that the barbules did not splay and they stayed on top of the hook.

Throat hackles and hen pheasant wings were easier to tie in using a vee-shaped section of a feather prepared by cutting the rachis above and below the number of barbules required.  The barbules from the left and right side of the ‘vee’ could then be folded together and tied in long with 2 thread wraps and pulled to the required length before securing with tight thread wraps.

Split jungle cock eyes could be repaired by the dipping in a light varnish then using finger and thumb to encourage the split eye to mend.