“if I only had one fly” – Steffan Jones

Steffan and I both hail from West Wales. In Steffan’s case he is based in the town of Llandysul, around which flows the wonderful River Teifi. His interests are many and varied and interestingly have evolved from his inability to draw or paint and failure to play a musical instrument. This has led him to Photography and DJ’ing as outlets for his obvious creative streak.

“I can capture something with a lens that I would not be able to with a
canvas and brush – well, I probably could, but it would bear no resemblance
to the subject!”

And his DJ’ing has taken him as far afield as Hong Kong and Argentina.

He fly fishes extensively both locally and various Worldwide destinations for trout, grayling and salmon. However, his first love, like many Welshman is fishing for (sewin) sea run brown trout – particularly at night.

On many winter days you can find him, shotgun in hand, working his Cocker Spaniels. Which provides a fine selection of fly tying materials as well as food for the pot. Which is not a bad thing as nothing goes to waste.

His first introduction to our sport was via a long established youth scheme arranged by the Llandysul Angling Association (www.fishing-in-wales.co.uk) that gives free tuition to kids each year as an introduction to fly fishing and fly tying. Indeed his tutor, a local man called Peter Jones is still giving lessons to this day – some 25 years after the young Steffan passed through his class.

” I owe him a lot and he is also the gent that started me off sea trout fishing many moons ago” says Steffan.

Steffan is unusual in that although highly educated to MSc level, he chose to try his hand at earning a living from fly fishing knowing he had his qualifications to fall back on. And many years later has still no need to blow the dust off his degrees.

He now guides professionally throughout West Wales http://www.anglingworldwide.com and also arranges fishing holidays worldwide for http://www.aardvarkmcleod.com.

“The industry has given me some magical experiences and taken me to locations that I could not dream of affording to travel to, for that I am eternally grateful and long may it continue…”

Steffan has lot of ‘go-to’ patterns, but they tend to have one thing in common; they utilise a minimum amount of ingredients and can be tied quickly. A man after my own heart.

“Fly casting and fly tying to me are both enjoyable aspects of the sport, but
they are very much a means to end and that end being fishing. I’d rather
spend time on the water than at the tying desk, so the flies need to be
quick, but ultimately practical and fit for purpose”

His favourite sea trout fly is a pattern he devised some 15 years or so ago named the Daioni (Dye-ow-nee) It is specifically designed as a dropper pattern and is very effective, especially in the latter half of the season.

“daioni” is a Welsh word that translates to mean ‘to do you good’ or ‘goodness’.

The Daioni

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Hook: Partridge streamer (D4AF) size 6 or 8
Thread: Veevus 8/0 black
Body: medium silver holographic tinsel
Rib: silver wire
Body hackle: white cock hackle, palmered
Wing: black squirrel
Head hackle: Nature’s spirit grizzly collaring hackle in flu.blue

“One of the key aspects of night fishing in my eyes is silhouette and profile. Whereas the majority of patterns give a pretty streamlined presentation, this patterns keeps it ‘bulk’ and, therefore, presents a thicker and stronger silhouette. It is also fantastic fun to fish this on a full floater in the height of the summer, when it fishes just subsurface and the takes can be pretty explosive on it. Anyway, most certainly a pattern that I would never be without.”

I asked Steffan if he had any advise for novice tiers……….

“Thread control! Why do five wraps when two or three will suffice? It is also
a bit like juggling (not that I can juggle, I hasten to add) but you need to
be able to keep two balls in the air before you add the third. Don’t run
before you can walk and really concentrate on the basics. If you can master
some simple flies first (i.e. the analogy of keeping two balls in the air)
then that is key, then move on (add the third ball), develop and master new
patterns and techniques. Do not be afraid of asking for criticism, but then
take it well when it is received – the last thing you want and need is false
praise as you will not advance from that”

Steffan with a near 20b Sea Trout that took a Bunny pattern in Argentina.

Steffan Jones
Steffan Jones

Many thanks Steffan, It was a pleasure talking with you.

Paul Slaney

I should give this up, wrapping bits of fluff around a hook for fun just can’t be normal.

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“if I only had one fly” – Stuart Foxall

Stuart Foxall, golfer and a retired semi-pro footballer  also describes himself as an over enthusiastic Flyfisherman. He hails from the West Midlands near Stourbridge in the UK.  Patshull Park is his home fishery, where he can be found chasing Trout. And the Salmon and Sea Trout across the borders in Scotland and  into Wales are no strangers to Stuarts creations whenever he can steal the time.

Two or three times a year he gets across to Skeena Spey in British Columbia where he hosts and fishes for the many Sea Run species available there. When he’s not hosting there, well, he’s roughing it at Alaskawest on the Kanektoc River.

Its a tough job…….

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His day job working in sales of industrial protective clothing, gives him less time than he would like to tie his flies – indeed if you fancy some examples, then currently his waiting list is around 4 months. And let me tell you, this fella ties some flies.

Stuart has quite a unique style when it comes to tying. His flies are beautifully tied and balanced. He’s no stranger to contemporary Anadromous patterns combining spey, intruder and modern European ideas into highly mobile and flamboyant creations that are as easy on the eye as they are lethally effective.

You’ll probably agree then –  it’s no surprise that he’s self taught. His only reference being some old Veniards reference cards in the early days. And I suspect very few tiers have influenced his style.

So perhaps you can imagine how disappointed I was when Stuart said he was going to send a Pot Bellied Pig as his choice for this series. Yes, yes, I do know how effective and popular they are – however I expected to see something a little different from the great Foxy!

Anyway, the day come when the envelope landed on the mat. I was simply blown away when I tore it open and shook its contents onto the table. For this was not a pot bellied pig like I’d seen before or even could imagine existed.

Here its is….

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In Stuarts own words….“The first trip that I did for British Columbian steelhead I wanted to use a fly that I had complete trust in. I’d always done very well on more traditional pot bellied pigs for Atlantic salmon so I thought i’d just do a larger version in steelhead colours. The first day I used it I hooked seven fish…..so I was more than pleased (I lost most of those fish btw!!!!!)”

“Since then it’s caught numerous other steelhead, chinook salmon, chum salmon, sea trout, atlantic salmon and other species. So it’s a good all rounder to have in your box.”

The dressing…..

Tube- Blue Glitter tube with black liner
Tag- Mirage tinsel
Flash- Blue krystal flash
Wing- Black bucktail tied long
Mid hackle- Black schlappen
Feelers- Pig bristles tied long on each side of the tube
Rib- Oval silver rib
Body- Steelie blue ice dub
Front flash- Lots of blue,purple and mirage holographic flashabou tied all round
Front hackle- Blue or purple schlappen
Eyes- Jungle cock eyes tied on top
Head- Hot red, pink or orange cone head.

Since I took the photo for this piece, I’ve taken this fly for a swim through the Lucky Pool on the Usk and I can confirm it swims beautifully and just bursts with colour and movement. I’ve got a feeling its going to murder the Sea Trout on the high water this weekend.

Thank you Stu! I just hope I don’t have to wait 4 months till I can get a few more! If you packed in the golf you might just be able to do it.

Paul Slaney

I should give this up, wrapping bits of fluff around a hook for fun just can’t be normal

“If I only had one fly” Denis O’Toole

In 2011 the largest Irish Sea Trout ever caught on a fly was landed on the East Coast of Ireland from an un-named river. The fish weighed over 16lbs and was returned unharmed, minus some scales. Analysis of those scales revealed the fish to be 7 years old and it had spawned 5 times. A local bylaw prevented it being claimed as the official record, a fact that doesn’t seem to worry its captor, Denis O’Toole, at all.

Denis lives close to the River Slaney, a wonderful improving fishery, and when he’s not keeping fit boxing, he fishes there for Salmon and many smaller rivers nearby where he chases Sea Trout. His chosen fly however, was designed for the River Drowes, in the North.

From early experiments in fly tying in the 90’s he has progressed from tying flies using a pair of pliers held between his knees as a vice – to a very skilled and creative tier, comfortable with many styles and techniques. I always look forward to seeing the latest O’Toole creation.

His influences are far and wide but he holds Falkus in highest regard –  “if you can sit down and watch Salmo The Leaper and not want to go fishing, you shouldn’t be holding a fly rod”.

The fly is Denis’ own pattern it works particularly well for salmon when the water is carrying a little colour and although it was conceived with the Drowes river in mind the colour combination works well on the Slaney. I’m sure it would work well just about anywhere……..

The Drowes Dawn Shrimp

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The fly can be tied on either hook or tube as follows:-

Thread – 8/0 Hot Orange
Tag – Medium Silver Oval
Tail – Golden Pheasant wound
Rib – Medium Silver Oval
Rear Body – Silver Holographic Tinsel
Middle Hackle – Yellow Cock
Front Body – Claret Floss
Rib – Medium Silver Oval
Front Hackle – Claret Cock Hackle
Cheeks – Jungle Cock

Like many tiers Im talking to, Denis considers fly tying a major part of his life and if he had any advise for novice tiers it would be this – “Practise and buy the best quality materials you can afford, I know that’s 2 pieces of advice, but if you follow them you wont go far wrong“.

And what about that Sea Trout? Well here it is……….

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Many thanks Denis thats a stunning fish!

Paul Slaney

I should give this up, wrapping bits of fluff around a hook for fun just cant be normal

“If I only had one fly’ – Giovanni De Pace

Giovanni and I first started talking about flats fishing for Bonefish and Tarpon, a subject close to both our hearts. You see, Giovanni ties some of the most beautiful Bonefish flies I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a few.

I quickly started to realise there is much more to Giovanni’s tying after seeing fantastic creations for Bass, Bluefish, Tuna and Dorado and his local Trout.

From October to April you can find him fishing for Sea Bass near to his home in Ceterverti, a small city close to Rome. Then from April to August for Trout in the Volturno and Sangro rivers. Then in September for Tuna and Dorado. Busy boy!

Giovanni has great admiration for saltwater tiers such as Bob Popovics and Lefty Kreh from the US. Whilst his Trout influence is closer to home, his friend Giuseppe Re.

His favorite fly, The Runner, was devised for fishing the shallow and rocky shoreline found along the coast near his home. It has an excellent baitfish profile and due to its semi buoyant nature he can control the depth he fishes to avoid snagging. The hackles in the body give it a sinuous movement in the water, ideal for hunting Sea Bass.

The Runner

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Hook – Gamakatsu SL size 12

Thread – Mono

Tail – 4-6 flat wing hackles and some strands of Sybai pearl twist hair

Body – Gliss N Glint or Slinky fibres

Eyes – 3D eyes from Sybai

My photographic skills are not really upto capturing the quality of this fly. Sorry Giovanni!

I asked Giovanni where flyfishing features in his life, he answered,  “Good question, Its the 5th love of my life, after my Wife and my 3 daughters”

I’m not sure I believe him because I asked him to send some photos and this is what arrived!!

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Nice work and lovely Bone Giovanni! Many thanks.

Paul Slaney

I should give this up, wrapping bits of fluff around a hook for fun just cant be normal

“If I only had one fly” – John Richardson

If you only had one fly, what would you choose?

That’s the question I’ve asked of several of my favorite tiers around the Globe. The take up has been very encouraging, so much so I’m going to try and feature a different tier every now and again as long as I keep this blog going. I can promise you that a treat awaits!

The rules are, choose and tie the fly and answer a couple of questions – Thats it! simples.

First up is John Richardson.

John lives in the Village of Fallin, near Stirling in Scotland. His local rivers are the Forth and the Tieth, a stones through away from his home. He fishes both, but tries to fish the Tay as often as time allows and also has plenty of time under his belt on the Naver in the far north of Scotland.

What attracted me to Johns tying was his consistency which obviously comes from long practice and his lightness of touch in producing many, many salmon hair wings. Often with a slight quirk of his own.

His variations on the Franknsnealda phenomenon are many and wonderful, but interestingly not the fly he chose.

John learned his craft from a gentleman called George Flemming who ran a local youth fishing club introducing John and a few others to tying trout flies. Most of his friends weren’t interested but John took to it like a natural and moved to salmon flies quite quickly. As John puts it.. “fishing was in my blood and all my family were great men at it”

I asked John if tying flies was his living, his answer was “I wouldn’t say it was my living, more of a passion and I couldn’t live without it. The flip side is less time for fishing but I enjoy being involved in every aspect of the sport. Its the best pastime about, simple!”

John’s chosen fly is the Tay Raider, a Cascade variant that has done well for him and his friends on their local rivers. The ever popular yellow and orange colors are enhanced here with a peacock tinsel body.

Here it is.. tied by John

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Hook.. as you wish

Thread.. Black UTC 70

Silver tag with a glo-brite 5 butt.

Tail is mixed yellow and orange buck tail with a couple of strands of stretched pearl flash.

Body is Uni peacock mylar with a silver rib.

A wing of black fox body fur highlighted with more flash is finished with yellow and orange hen hackle, Jungle Cock and a shiny black head.

John has a few words of advice for new tiers, or any tiers come to that.. “I think good fly-tiers have it in them, and if I was going to say anything to a novice it is, be patient and try not to overdress, as little is very much a lot”

Good advice and damn nice fly John! Thank you.

Paul Slaney

I should really give this up, wrapping bits of fluff on a hook for fun just can’t be normal