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This page is for reviewing fly fishing related products. They have either been bought by myself or given to me to try. I have no affiliation with any of the companies and hope to give an honest and informative review of some products.

11 Nov 2017 Andrew’s Scruffy Dubbing

(Click on the photos for a better view)

Usually before reviewing a product,  I like to play with it for a wee while to get a feel for the quality and its adaptability. When I opened my purchase from Troutstalker, I was pleased to see some interesting new blends of dubbing. We have all done it: pinches of this, some of that, throw it in a coffee grinder and low and behold you have a secret dubbing. This has worked well enough for me in the past but recreating it now there is a challenge.  Andrew’s Scruffy Dubbing is a custom blend of various materials: rabbit, hare, squirrel and a few other bits and bobs. It looked great in the fairly generous packets and at £2.95 a packet, it’s probably on the money.

I ordered five packs: Appleby Olive, Sooty Olive, Golden Olive, Scruffy Buzzer and Highland Peat. One of the things that immediately appealed to me was the fact that you can buy it in individual packs so if you find one you like you can simply purchase that. In the past I have seen myself buying selection packs just to get my hands on one or two dubbings.  Not the most economical way to build a fly tying kit! The dubbing, it’s just right. I know that’s not particularly helpful but it’s difficult to explain in words. It dubs onto untreated thread with no problem. You can work it hard and get a flat ribbed type body or dub it on lightly to give that spikey scruffy look that is so popular with the fish.

Click on the thumbnails to get a bigger picture.

Appleby Olive Dry Fly shrimp shrimp_wet Bug Dry Wet Bug Wet Bug Wet bug

I tied a number of different flies and I was very pleased with the look I got from the dubbing. It’s difficult to tell from the photographs but the material also has hidden talents to offer. When exposed to UV light a few of the fibres light up giving a vibrant and pleasing effect. I am not about to throw the rest of my dubbing in the bucket but this stuff is mightily impressive and I dare say I will be adding the rest of the range to my tying  kit. I dare you to buy a packet and not like it!

 

 

08 Nov 2017 Costa Sunrise Silver Mirror

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Firstly I would like to thank Ben Bangham, who donated the glasses for this review. The website is not yet live but is expected to be up by Christmas, you can check it out here www.coast2coast.com. In the interests of being fair and open about this review I am a big fan of Costas and own three sets. The first set I got was a set of the 580P copper lenses a set of low light yellow lenses soon followed and as my eye got steadily worse another set of 580P bi-focals. So I had heard that some new lenses were becoming available and I wondered if they could be possibly any better than what I had?

Fly anglers wear glasses primarily to protect your eyes from flies that may go astray when casting. If you don’t then quite frankly you’re a Muppet - just Google up some images of folks that have taken a fly to the peeper! The other benefit of wearing polarized glasses is the ability to cut through the glare and see into the water. The ability to see your quarry is especially important whilst fishing running water. When I took the Costa glasses out the cardboard box they were in a hard bullet type case that protects them when not in use. I have never owned a pair of mirrored fishing glasses; it gives me flash backs to the danger zone and Top Gun (apologies if you are not of a certain age that would have gone over your head).

In the bullet case you get a generously sized cleaning cloth for the lenses. There are a couple of cards: the first thanking you for choosing Costa; the second has a bit more information on the lenses and there is some technical blurb. On the back of this card are details about the limited lifetime warranty.  This guarantees that if damage is deemed to be through a manufacturing defect that they will be repaired or replaced by Costa although there is a small handling fee of $11.95. Out of the four pairs I have owned over the years, the only damage is when I sat my fat arse on a set and you can’t expect that to be covered under warranty. Also included is a little Costa sticker that can be stuck to a tackle/fly box or whatever really.

Once out and in the hand they feel light and have a smart stylish frame - you can select from a number of different styles though. The ones I was given are the ‘Fisch’ they are matt black and are the wraparound style, very much what I am used to. They have vents in the frames to help with lens fogging a well thought out feature. I have been using these for about three weeks and even on bright days when I would usually be reaching for my copper set I have not felt the need to change. I never thought that the low lights could be improved upon but these are so good. When you put them on your face on a dank drizzly autumn morning it’s like someone flicking the lights on. Although they excel in low light, they also work very well in variable light conditions.

This is what Costa write about their new lenses:

“The Sunrise Silver Mirror lens is described as ideal for low light situations, great for any sight casting applications and Costa’s most versatile lens for changing light conditions. It allows 30% light transmission compared to the typical 10% to 12% and does this successfully while maintaining a 99% polarisation efficiency – making it the highest light transmission of any polarised lens on the market.”  

Aye, fancy blurb if you’re an optician, I have no clue what that means. What I can tell you is these are the best polarised glasses that money can buy in my opinion.  The only thing that irks me slightly is that there are no bi-focal options for these lenses and I am sure I am not alone in the old farts brigade who needs glasses to tie on their flies.  

 

01 Nov 2017 Bobbin Holders

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Bobbin HoldersLucian Vasies from Troutline kindly sent me a bunch of bobbin holders to try out.  If you have not gathered already I do a fair bit of tying and see it as part and parcel of being a fly fisherman. Tying your own flies can become a bit of an addiction as it has with me. You can spend an extraordinary amount of money on the tools to start fly tying but is it worth it? When you look at a basic bobbin holder what does it actually do? It holds the thread that you use to lash various feathers, furs and synthetics to hooks. It is a very personal thing and out of the numerous bobbin holders I have, I often find myself changing threads just so I can use my favourite holder. Will any of the ones Lucian sent take on that mantle?
Let’s have a look at the difference in prices; for a basic holder you can expect to pay between £6 -£12 which is reasonable. Then there is the mid ranged holders between £12 -£20 then you can just start to get silly. The Petitjean MP-TT has a very clever tensioning mechanism but with a price tag near £60 it would need to be tying flies for you for my money! There are others of course - the C&F standard bobbin holder comes in at nearly £35. So, there are ample designs to meet the needs of most budgets, it boils down to personal choice. Is more expensive better? Well in my humble opinion absolutely not!

I tried various threads flosses and silks through each of the holders and to be fair they all performed pretty well. The holders that did not come with a tensioner as part of their build were easily manipulated with a bit of pushing and pulling on the legs to make them right. Below are my thoughts and some pictures of each of the holders that I tried.

Tiemco Ceramic Bobbin 17.79 Euros Tiemco Bobbin Holder

This has long been my favourite, it’s simple and practical. The tension is just right on most threads I have used with this holder. The most important thing is it feels right in your hand and is comfortable, changing threads is easy you simply stick a centimetre of thread down the hole suck the other end and the thread appears no problem. It’s a wee bit more than I would like to pay but once you have it barring disaster it’s yours  for many a year of reliable service.

 

Stonfo Bobbin holderStonfo Elite Bobbin Holder 14.49 Euros

I really wanted to like this, the idea of a tensioner that you could simply turn the knob to get the correct tension really appealed to me. It works very well what was not so good for me was the one leg it takes a bit of getting used to and seemed rather foreign in my hand. That said it operated brilliantly and performed particularly well when using light threads and silks. I will happily persevere with this and down the line it may become natural to use. The price is excellent for what you get.
 
Troutline Bullet Ceramic Fly Tying Bobbin Holder 11.29 Euros

This feels like a solid bit of kit in the hand and is a pleasure to use; it has that feels right factor. There is a nice weight to it that makes it more suitable for my reservoir patterns which is fine. On the odd occasion I have been lazy and slipped a thinner diameter thread into the holder I have had the odd occasion when the thread has snapped. Operator error rather than there being much wrong with the bobbin holder. 



Troutline Spartan Bobbin HolderTroutline Spartan Ceramic Fly Tying Bobbin Holder 10.49 Euros

This is Troutline’s own design and they have sourced the materials from Japan to construct it. It’s a simple design that works really well. There is a disk near the front that fits between your thumb and forefinger. The tube the thread passes through is top grade ensuring that the thread is not nicked while tying. Of course, as with all things, price is a consideration and this comes in bang on the money as far as I am concerned. It is used by the Pro Staff at Troutline who tie in excess of 300 flies a day which makes it worth your consideration if you’re on a budget.

C&F Design Bobbin Holder £34.99

Arguably the sexiest looking bobbin on show today and it’s certainly one of the factors when it caught my eye some years back. The truth is though I don’t like it. The tension is not right despite a long session pushing and pulling at it. The most annoying thing though is when you want to change threads. There is a foam insert that you have to navigate and this can only be done using a bobbin threader. It may sound petty but if you are paying over thirty quid for something that holds thread it should be doing it with no fuss and really well.

So in conclusion and as I said at the start, there is a big difference in what you can pay. Troutline do not offer the C&F holder but if you are of a mind to try one you can purchase one through the link. Do not be sucked into the ‘more expensive is better’, it’s simply not the case for bobbin holders. I would suggest trying several to see what style you get on with. If you are in a fly tying club ask your friends if they would let you try their tools if you do your homework you will get by the rest of your fly tying days with three or four good quality bobbins. Troutline pride themselves on delivering quality products and it is certainly worth checking out their wares at https://www.troutline.ro

 

 

08 Oct 2017 Wychwood SDS Gorge Breathable Waders £209.99

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Lindsay SimpsonI have been using these waders for two months – the busiest part of the season for me - and I am pleased to say they have had an awful lot of wear. Since wearing my beloved Patagonia Gallegos to destruction including a trip to Diver Dave for repair I have toiled to find a decent replacement. Why didn’t I just buy another set? Well, at £550 a pop I just didn’t have the loose change in my pocket! So alternatives, Airflo and Snowbee covered my backside for a while they both come up short though and I don’t mean on the leg! To be fair the Snowbee waders were OK for the local river Avon where little effort fighting through gorse bushes and sliding down banks is required but would they survive contact with the Welsh Dee or the Eden? I am a little unsure that they would.

I was discussing my recent plight with Steve Cullen from Wychwood in regards waders and he kindly sent me some ex-magzine review ones. I had looked at these in the shop, but the fact they had no front zip (I pee a lot) deterred me from buying a set. But a freebie! I gratefully accepted Steve’s offer.

The first thing that struck me when I got them out the packaging was how similar they felt to my old Patagonia’s and indeed the material in the legs did not feel unlike a pair of Simms waders I had been looking over the previous week! When I tried them on they were a little neat on my ample frame - as they were free I had to make do with Medium King - but once I was inside they felt very comfortable.

Here is sales description for the product.

“Tough and hardwearing yet incredibly lightweight, these breathable waders offer security and comfort for anglers that are active and on the move.

The microporous coating features a structure made up of tiny holes which not only prevents liquid water from penetrating the fabric but also allows individual particles of water vapour to pass through which means the fabric is super waterproof and highly breathable. Delivering 20,000mm Hydrostatic Head and 4,000g/m2 breathability rating, these waders are designed to perform to a very high standard.

The coating combined with a tough, durable face means that Wychwood Waders are reliable and comfortable to wear the whole year through. Stay Dry System, Super lightweight, robust and hard wearing, highly waterproof and breathable construction 100& Nylon with DWR Finnish, 20,000 Hydrostatic head / 4,000/M2 breathability Sonic Welding across all seams. Five layer construction across high wear areas for maximum durability. Ergonomic make up without any side seams for greater durability and freedom of movement. Adjustable shoulder straps and waist belt for comfortable and close fit, to eliminate current drag. Taped, spacious front pocket with water resistant zip. Two internal pockets, one featuring a clear-welded pocket providing waterproof security for valuables. Daisy chain lanyard for essentials. Adjustable top edge for fitted feel, ideal for deep wading. Gravel Guard, hardwearing, wader fabric featuring elasticated gravel guard with stainless steel boot lace hook, for extra protection.”


If you are going for a short session on the river, and I often do, there is ample room for a box of flies, tippet and other essentials. The clear plastic, removable pocket section is ideal for your phone so you can see the screen and ignore all the unimportant shite that seems to flash across the screen. On the odd occasion that you need to see important messages you can, without going through the pain of digging the phone from a waterproof bag. The lanyard has ample clips for snips and forceps and for those short sessions this is ideal. If you wear a fishing vest these pockets are still accessible. For those that prefer a chest pack the pockets can become largely redundant as to gain access you have to come in from the sides. Or move the whole pack  

One of the things that I really like is the gravel guards, they are very generous allowing the clip to be secured to the bottom lace or clip on your wading boots. This is important as it relieves the pressure on the seam when you are trudging around or indeed kneeling down. It seems a small thing but I have had issues with several other brands in this area where water has found a way in.

The fact these have five layers at the hardwear points mean that they feel far more robust than your normal sub £500 waders. The wear points are triple taped, so they are rock solid, there’s more than enough room, so that layering can be achieved without them becoming too snug, they come in seven sizes covering everything from medium to XL king, so everyone is sorted!

The adjustable waist and shoulder strap ensure a good fit and the chest pull cord allows you to pinch the waders tight at the tip alleviating current drag. Hardened rubber tools tabs and D rings at the chest allow you to carry lots of bits and pieces, ideal for wading no matter what the weather.

It’s easy to say stuff is good when you get it for free, unfortunately, I have to say how I find and many of my reviews never see the light of day. I won’t apologise for that but it is great when somebody sends you something and it has been properly thought through. The quality of these Gorge Waders really is quite exceptional considering the ticket price and despite not having a front zip, I think I may have found my future purchases as regards to my new favourite waders. These really are top product for a bargain price, I have not tried the boots but I will be having a good look when my current set fall off my feet.

 

28 Sep 2017 Flexible Tungsten Shrimp Bodies from the Fly Tying Boutique

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I spotted these on one of the marketing emails that regularly hit my inbox. I like the weight that this shape of tungsten gives a fly but am not keen working with them as the profile never quite works for me. Phil Holding from the Fly Tying Boutique often brings new and innovative products to the market, this is what the website write up on the product states.

“Originating from Germany and imported by Chevron Hackles comes this amazing material - "FLEXIBLE TUNGSTEN" SHRIMP BODIES.

These bodies allows easy placement and fixing onto your hook as the material "gives" - it is flexible and can mold to the shape of the hook.

The easiest method is to place the shrimp back onto a curved hook and add a dab of superglue then add colour if required.

Alternatively, fix onto the hook shank and then tie your fly over the body.
The material can also be cut to size if required - and of course adds weight!
Available in a dull grey - the material can be coloured by first coating with a white Zig paint pen then coloured as required.

20 BODIES PER PACK
2 MM - £7.40 2.5 MM - £ 7.40 3 MM - £ 7.95”

Getting weight on to flies has long been a pain in the arse for anglers wishing to get there flies down in high water or for searching out deeper pools. There are lots of solutions available to fly fishermen and fly tyers now and this may well be another string to the bow. Phil sent me the variety pack that came with various different shapes for a whole variety of flies, I have yet to work out what to do with some of them. With the Grayling season knocking on the door the shrimp bodies seem to be of the most use. 
  
The shrimp body in picture 1 weighed .48 gram which is pretty reasonable for the size the solid version of a similar size came in at .59 so there is a little sacrifice on weight. But the trade-off is worth it in my opinion as the weight sits much neater on the hook. The other thing I liked about the material was once in position on the hook I was able to trim with some old scissors to get the shape I wanted. Once trimmed to the desired size a layer of thread went down easily over the body and it sat really nicely on the hook.

On the whole I like the idea and it has been well executed, its not going to replace tungsten beads, shell backs or cones but it will have its place for certain patterns. Much easier to work with than the hard unforgiving tungsten bodies, off course like all fly tying products it won’t be for everyone.  I would suggest that the next time you are after some bits and bobs for the tying room just get a packet and decide for yourself.

 

27 Jul 2017 Troutline Tactical Perdigon Nymphing Fly Line with Colored Tip


Troutline.roRRP 32.99 (Euros) £29.46

Last year I reviewed the Rio Euro Nymph fly line and my conclusion was although I liked the line I did not think it would replace my current system of a French leader. The price tag of £49.99 was not exactly winning me over either. Micro thin fly lines have been around for some time now and a few of my pals refer to them as the Emperors’ new clothes.  Preferring the much cheaper option of a French leader.  The change in FIPS Mouche rules effectively scuppering the use of French leaders over twice the length of your rod. Many competition anglers have turned their attention to these types of lines.

Here is what Troutline have to say about their product:

Troutline Tactical Perdigon Nymphing Fly Line with Coloured Tip is our newest line designed based on latest requests from FIPS Mouche competition rules. This nymphing line is very thin, has 0.8mm diameter and is very sensitive. Practically was developed for fishing with perdigon nymphs but works excellent with very small nymphs like French Nymphs.
The Troutline Tactical Perdigon Nymphing Fly Line helps the fishermen to detect any attack of the fish and is very light in the same time. 
The line has a green-olive colour to remain stealth in all kind of fishing conditions.

Technical Details:

  • special designed for perdigon nymphing style
  • can be used with very  light nymphs and small nymphs at the same time
  • will allow to cast small flies with high precision at short and medium distance
  • the fly line has a  parallel profile for a better sensitivity
  • the line has a beautiful stealth main green-olive colour with different coloured tips
  • 0.8mm diameter of the line

Tip colours:

  • white-orange tip - dedicated for spooky and very clear waters
  • white tip - dedicated for  very difficult  light conditions”

I received the one with the white tip. The line came in a little bag with a card attached with some text describing the line.Tactical Nymph I would normally put this down to advertising blurb, but knowing how much effort Troutline put into their products and the attention to detail I took the time to read through it. Troutline is a company that cares about the end product they are selling and that’s quite refreshing.

As you can see the out of the bag the line comes loose secured with some pipe cleaner. This can be tricky to spool onto a reel and I have come of worse with other lines when doing this. I used the rolled up magazine trick and had a work colleague hold it whilst I reeled it onto a small reel I had spare.  My first impressions were that it was supple and felt nice to the touch, the white tip was bright and would be easy to spy on the water. I attached a 10’ tapered leader that I took about 2’ of the butt section leaving me with effectively an 8’ taper to a mircro ring at the tip.

When I have used this line it has been on various stretches of the River Avon which has been running low and clearish.  Using an 11’ for #3 the line casts nicely and turns over even the smallest of nymphs even down to #22 easily. The tip floats high on the surface and you get good indication from bright white tip when fishing at distance. The tip really comes into its own when under a canopy of trees it stands out really well. It fishes well at close range also although to be fair with the way the Avon is I tended to fish mostly at range.

During testing I found myself in the middle of a lot of rising fish and discarded the nymph in favour of a small dry fly.  Although unwieldy on such a long rod the line was adequate in a pinch for dry fly fishing and I did take several fish like this. Its primary use though is for fishing small nymphs and for this purpose it is ideal.

I really want to not like this line, my French leader is great and over the years it has caught me lots of fish. I have to say though I will be probably finding myself reaching for this for nymphing more often than not. It’s priced about right in comparison with the competition and I would say that it stands up against the big brand lines in quality. If you are not worried about fancy boxes and packaging it’s certainly worth a look at. Youcan check out the line at the shop here.

 

 

16 Jul Greys Strata Hoodie

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Greys Strata HoodieRRP £39.99

Sale Price £19.99 @ Yorkshire Game Angling

I have been called many thing over the years, but a dedicated follower of fashion is not one of those things! The folks at Yorkshire Game Angling sent me one of the Greys Strata Hoodies to try out. The kids fell about when I told them I had gotten a hoodie, anyway to the point. This is what the website description says.

“Relax after a good day’s fishing in this comfortable, cosy hoody in super-soft heavy brushed back jersey. The lined hood features a cool red trim and extra wide drawcord.”

I have owned several Items of Greys clothing including soft shell jackets, shirts and various caps. In short I quite like their stuff, its reasonably priced and of good quality. In my humble opinion if you stuck a Simms badge on some of the stuff it would be three times the price! The hoodie I was sent was a size L (no fat jokes please) there was plenty of room for my ample frame as well as several base layers. The hood is lined with a red trim and has an extra wide draw cord.
It has no front zip and is worn by pullover style and made from 100% cotton. It feels like good quality and close inspection of the stitching showed that attention to detail and quality were shown in its construction. When wearing it the hoodie feels light yet still warm due to the heavy brushed cotton on the inside. If you were to wear this while fishing early morning or as the sun goes down it would keep you warm and not impede your casting.

It’s not all good news though I have a bug bear with the way in which the logo is printed onto the garment. I have fallen foul of this with a shirt where the iron caught the logo and effectively ruined the shirt. Some would say read the label and don’t iron the logo dumb ass! Would it not be much better to just embroider the logo into the garment? The other annoying thing is the instruction not to tumble dry. If I am doing the laundry and the weather is inclement everything goes in the tumble dryer, even my wife has come to accept this as the norm.

Pernickety points I know and it maybe just me but if you are a careful individual who looks after their clothes this comfortable, cosy hoody could well be just the ticket for you. The price that Yorkshire Game Angling are knocking it out for to be quite frank it would be rude not to pick one up. I think it’s going to see a lot of use come those cold winter Grayling days when the pain in your freezing cold ears bites, pulling the hood up over your cap will be bliss.

 

 

19 Jun 2017 Jig Hooks Demmon Competition ST 320

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Jig hooks reviewI've been using jig hooks for the best part of 10 years. You can use any bead on a jig hook. If you use a countersunk bead on a jig hook, it will not fish like a standard straight eye hook, what you will find is the shape of the jig hook is designed to fish/swim head down and hook bend up, and won’t be dictated by the style of the bead. From my own experience slotted do look much better on the hook though.

When I was sent this range of hooks to try there was a small packet of Jig Off Tungsten Beads. I am not the sharpest tool in the box but I assumed that Lucian wanted me to try them in tandem. I tied up a couple of simple patterns a small red tag a little scruffy hairs ear pattern. Fairly generic stuff but I was fairly confident that they would catch fish. At the end of the day I was only interested in their ability to hold fish.

They are very similar to what I currently use but are considerably less expensive. Before they even made the water my Competition Jig Hooksfirst observation was that the Jig Off Tungsten Beads slightly obscured the eye on the #14 that I was using it gave an overall weight of .35g. A similar fly that I had tied using a slotted bead came in at .36g so the difference was negligible. The slotted bead however did not cover any part of the hook eye. This is essential when you are an old fart like me!

Will they catch and hold fish? I have found that I get good conversion rates when fishing with Jig hooks. The only thing that comes near them for holding fish is the Tiemco SP-BL which is fantastic but not cheap. I think the last of the ones I own are decorating the tree line on the river Avon. Anyway they are a completely different profile and I have digressed. These Jig Hooks are great for small patterns and I would use them with confidence. For certain patterns that I need to add maybe two coverings of Tungsten wire to the shank the Hanak Jig Superb cannot be Demmon Fly Hooksbettered in my humble opinion. The STS 920s in size #20 are the smallest I have come across and ideal for tying up those tiny nymphs that score so well on the chalk streams. I would have no hesitation in tying up some of my tried and tested patterns on these hooks. These hooks are fantastic value for money and I shall certainly be getting some more before I start fishing for Grayling in earnest in October.

There is so much choice for fly tiers in regards hooks that it can be bewildering at times. Personally, I think that getting the right hooks is every bit as important as the correct tippet and fly rod. If you want to make savings on your gear I would suggest that it is not done at the bit where the fish are! They can be bought from Troutline.ro.

 

31 May 2017 Wychwood Gear Trap Short Haul Pouch Review


I have tried everything! Waistcoats, too numerous to mention, sling packs, other chest packs and I have even tried stuffing what I need into wader/jacket pockets. Every angler knows what suits him and I have pretty much settled on a chest pack, but I also carry a small day sack with my camera and a bottle of water. This can be a bit of a pain in the backside as you have to keep going back to pick it up. Some days I have forgotten it and found myself having to walk some distance to retrieve it. When comp fishing I was down to a small pouch that would hold a C&F fly box and this was adequate for a short three to four hour session. But for the whole day you may, I do need a bit more kit.

I had been using the Orvis Safe Passage Vertical chest pack and carrying the accompanying daysack. It was adequate but it did have a few short comings, because it is very narrow it protrudes from the body a little further than I would like. This can be problematic in a fast flowing river where you have to be able to see where your feet are going.

Anyway enough of my ho hum issues with luggage what about this new chest rig from Wychwood? I bought mine from Fishers in Edinburgh, but they can be purchased from any Wychwood stockist. The recommended retail for this piece of kit is £64.99 but it can be found on Ebay for £58.49. Like anything else it pays to shop around. This is what the manufacturers say about the product.

“The Wychwood Short Haul pack is comfortable, portable and features enough space so that you can fit in in all those fishing essentials. Constructed from two hard-wearing fabrics, 150D polyester and 600D polyester, both featuring a PVC coating, the dual colour blends in well when fishing and the adjustable straps make for a very comfortable day out.

Comfortable, lightweight padding in specific areas ensure that the pack’s straps don’t cut in, even when it’s full and weighed down with all your gear. As well as the many pockets and pouches, other features include, anodised hook and lock zingers, tool stations, ripple foam fly deck.
Features:

  • Multiple storage compartments
  • Strong and reliable Duraflex Buckles
  • Removable EVA ripple foam fly patch
  • Black anodised, hook and lock zingers
  • Internal pocket carabiner, Internal and external mesh pockets
  • Solid work deck
  • Padded and adjustable shoulder straps - featuring mini ‘D’ rings - for extra comfortable fit and weight distribution
  • Hard wearing, extendable tool clips
  • Moulded Wychwood zip pullers
  • Front and back panels feature small rippled foam for additional comfort and fit
  • Rear ‘D’ ring for net attachment
  • Large front and rear pockets for impressive storage capacity”

 

Right let’s get down to it, I have used this on four outings to the river and on the whole have found it very well thought out. I would expect nothing less as it was designed by an angler. I have enjoyed the extra storage at the front of the pack and really like the large foam deck for making quick fly changes. The zingers are of a good quality and there are two available, I use one for snips and the other for forceps. Currently I am using a combination of different fly boxes from slim line nymph boxes to the tacky boxes and the pack can take several of these. There is also plenty room for all your Whychwood other bits such as floatant, mud and multiple tippets. This all fits in without bulking out the front of the pouch.

On the back is a reasonable sized pouch that can be used for a number of things, a waterproof jacket or a bit of lunch. However, I have found it ideal for storing my camera which is just a little too big for stuffing into a pocket. So once it is loaded up and you have it on your body it is surprisingly comfortable. A gripe with previous systems has been the strap cutting into the back of my neck. All the weight is taken across the shoulders and is well distributed. The material seems hard wearing and is akin to the material used by the Army for webbing.

My one grumble with the pack is where the net attaches. I have mostly used a magnet on the rim of my net with another magnet attached to the neck strap. This allows me to put my hand directly on the handle to net fish. With this system the D ring sits too low on my back so when trying to re-engage the magnets requires no small feat of contortion. This was somewhat annoying and even after my second trip it was a bit of a show stopper! The solution was to attach the net to a strong zinger on the D ring by the handle and the last couple of trips this has worked well. It took a little bit of getting used to but it is starting to feel more natural.

On the whole I am very pleased with the product, the price point is probably on the money and other similar packs can be purchased around the same price. Mostly though I have found other packs just protrude too far out from the body or don’t have the required storage space. I will carry on using this system and if any other thoughts come to me I will add to this review. I hope it has been of some use.

 

26 May 2017 Demmon Competition STS 920

(Click on the photos for a better view)
Demmon Competition STS920I have been completely barbless for a number of years now. I had gained the confidence in them through fishing rivers. I have tried many of the various brands some have been good others not so much. I made the fatal error of tying up hundreds of flies on Fulling Mill Grab Gape hooks only to find that they are easily straightened out by hard fighting fish. After playing around with various other hooks I had finally settled on the Dohiku brand in W12SL, 645 and 302. I have never had any issues with these hooks.

Troutline kindly sent me some samples of the Demmon Competition STS 920 range as well as some of their other types (more to come on those at a later date). I want to focus on the STS920 first though as most of my fishing is being done on stillwaters at the moment. This is what Troutline have to say about the hooks.
“Demmon Competition STS920 BL Fly Hooks is a new hook developed for strong and big fish. The particularity of this hook is the shank - short, to let the tier to make blobs, lake flies, small streamers or to tie articulated flies and to give the maximum mobility in water.
The small sizes like #12 and #14 are fantastic for spiders and other wet flies with short bodies!

Technical Details:

  • Eye - Down
  • Wire- 2X Strong
  • Lenght-1x short
  • Shape-standard wet with special round bend
  • Forged
  • Finish- Black Nickel
  • Point: Long Barbless curved inside
  • Bags of 25pcs”

My first impression was if I had taken these hooks from a packet marked Dohiku I would not have known the difference. When comparing them close up you could see that they share many of the same characteristics’ a slightly upturned hook point and a nice gauge to them. This is ideal for bulky patterns such as blobs and muddlers. They feature a slightly down turned eye and the hook points are super sharp.

On really close inspection you can see there are slight differences in the profile of the hooks. They are both solid well Fly Tying Lindsay Simpsonmanufactured hooks. Having now caught several fish on them I am content that they are fit for purpose. So, why change from the Dohiku? Well the price for a packet of 25 Dohiku hooks is the kingly sum of £4.50 although you can pick them up on offer at £4.25.  This means that before you start lashing expensive materials to the hook its 18p right off the bat. I know it sounds like the Scotsman bleeding out of me, but if you tie a lot (and I do) this all adds up. The Demmon hooks retails for £3.18 for 25 or if you buy 10 packets it works out at £2.66 thats a little over 10p a hook. (converted from Euros). The differences in the two brands are so subtle that the only real decider for me is the price which even armed with my extremley poor maths makes the Demmon hooks a no brainer!

I have a reasonable stock of Dohiku that will probably see me through this season but all in all I think my next order will be the Demmon hooks. You can take a look at them on the Troutline website here.



19 Apr 2017 New FNF Jelly Fritz

(Click on the photos for a better view)

If you are an avid fly tyer I doubt you have not heard the name ‘Jelly Fritz’. This is a material that hit the market last year from Frozen North Fly Fishing. I purchased several packets of the jelly fritz after being sent a sample to try out. The colours were very vibrant and the material was limp and when wet slimmed right down. In short I really liked it and bought the usual suspects colour wise.

Roll on 2017 I get a message from Kevin Porteous, New Jelly! Thinner fibre, narrower. Adjusted how it sits in the core with a clearer fibre. More translucent allowing brighter colours and allowing light to flush through. A softer fibre that is easier to tie with and softer to the touch, a big development with new technology allowing us to create it.
A big claim but would it stand up, it arrived sharpish unfortunately I was really busy and after the quickest of glances my initial thoughts were it looked the same as the original. When I eventually found a bit of time I got it out the packet and compared it like for like with the original. To the naked eye, it looked identical and I thought Kevin had pulled a fast one. It’s when you touch the material that you can immediately feel the difference. The fibres are much softer in the hand and produce a much sleeker fly.

I have now tied in excess of thirty flies with this material and it is a joy to use. I have been very pleased with the flies and they scored well for me on my recent trip to Rutland water. The two flies on the stone one is simply a tequila blob and the other is a FAB. Now the point I am trying to make (badly) is that this material gives a great profile to the fly. When I first showed it to folks they did not even realise it was a FAB. As the material is not yet ready for general release I do not know the retail price although I would imagine that it will come in around the same price as normal Jelly £3.00 a packet. This is comparable with fritz from other manufacturers.

Being a big fan of the original jelly and not to mention the fact I am already heavily invested in the original my boxes being full of flies tied with it. I am a more than a little perplexed, the new stuff really is a big leap forward and is simply the best fritz I have ever used. That does not mean that I will be getting rid of my old stock anytime soon. When the popular colours start to run down though this is what I will be replacing it with!

You can check out the other products from FNF at their website https://www.fnflyfishing.co.uk/


 

22 Mar 2017 Hemingways Synthetic Tapered Peacock Quills

(Click on the photos for a better view)

There are four distinct variations of these synthetic quills, tapered, transparent, holographic and fluorescent. Being a complete fly tying tart I am always on the lookout for new stuff to try. I have tried synthetic quills in the past but found them pretty disappointing to be honest. In fact, I think the bulk of my last purchase is sitting in a drawer somewhere covered in dust no doubt!

These caught my eye when I saw some examples on Facebook tied by Dragoslav Mihajlovic an extremely talented tyer and a source of much inspiration. Toby Merigan from Funky Flyting kindly donated 4 packs for me to try out, two transparent and two tapered.

They come in packs containing 20 quills that measure 10cm in length. To use them you simply peel them from the card and tie them in as you would a normal quill. There it a little play in them making it relatively easy to work with. What I noticed was the amount of waste once I had used the tapered piece and at £2.99 a pack it seemed a shame to just throw them in the bin. I saved the thicker end pieces that may have been discarded and used them to tie up some cormorants. I think they turned out pretty good(fig1). So, getting two flies per quill starts to justify the cost.

I tied a fly last week and received a very valid statement about synthetics “When there’s quills out there I can’t see why you’d bother “. Before using these I would have said exactly the same thing, I use quills from Troutline and find them exceptional, but they have their limitations. You have to take extra care when tying with natural quills. Show me a fly tyer that has not snapped a quill at the point of tying in while wrapping and I will show you a blatant liar! Getting quills with nice wide banding can be a chore with the synthetics you get true consistency. The other real plus with these are the translucent quills can give some really interesting effects depending upon the colour of thread that is used under them.

Of course, the acid test is would I buy them? Well natural quills come in around £2.50 sometimes they don’t pass muster and have been a waste of money. I have had this experience on a number of occassions. With these you know what you’re going to get. I don’t think they will replace naturals anytime soon but certainly worth consideration, the application is only limited by your imagination. I will definitely get round to exploring more of the range.

Many thanks to Toby Merigan for giving me the opportunity to give these ago.

These are available from Funky Flytying , Translucent, Fluorescent , Holographic and Tapered Peacock

 

14 Mar 2017 Hunts Original Products


I was given the full range of Hunts products last year by Steve Cullen who was singing its praises and told me to give it a try. In the past I have used most stuff Gink, Frogs Fanny, Mucilin, Dry Fly Silicone and Dilly Wax. So, I was a little sceptical as to what this would bring to the party. More than a little guilty of apathy the stuff has been in my garage for over six months. A planned trip to Wherewell seemed like the perfect place to give it a run out.


Product Range

The descriptions below are taken from the manufacturers website which I have to say is very clean and easy to navigate around.

Slime & Grime (£7.99) is a tub that contains thousands of super absorbent beads that soak up moisture from your fly patterns, but the will not stick to the fly. It is the perfect solution for removing fish slime from your favourite fly. The beads are non-toxic and will turn from orange to clear when they run out of life.

High & Dry (£7.99) is a pure silica powder with added desiccant. It is perfect for those who prefer shake tubs rather than brush on powder. Ideal for larger CDC and less delicate dry fly patterns. Simply leave the fly on the leader, place the fly in the powder and close the lid but don't snap shut, gently shake for a few seconds and remove. Your fly will now be coated in powder and will sit perfectly on the surface.

Hunt's Original Floatant (£7.50) is a soft powder that will keep CDC flies afloat for longer by providing a protective barrier that works in even the toughest of conditions. To revive flies, simply work the powder into the body and wings of your fly with the easy to use applicator brush provided. Remove any excess Floatant with a few false casts and you are ready to go. It can also be used to coat nymphs, that once underwater, will produce air bubbles that can look like the realistic effect of an emerging insect.

Fluff Dust (£7.99) is a pure silica powder perfect for CDC patterns. Simply place the fly still connected to your tippet into the powder, close the lid but don't snap shut and shake for a few seconds. Remove and your fly will now be coated in powder and ready to fish. Remove any excess by either blowing on the fly or with a few false casts.

Mud (£4.50) Take the shine off your line! Hunt's Original Mud is created by using a blend of natural ingredients, so it is environmentally friendly, mixed in house to create the ultimate degreasant for your tippet. This MUD should be applied to your tippet in order to eliminate any grease, allowing it to sink, and by using MUD in this way you will also reduce any line flash, allowing you get that fly closer to spooky fish.

Before we get to how the product performs I would like to mention the price point. When I first looked into it and specifically looking at the mud I thought it was rather expensive. Orvis Mud retails at £3.99 and this is my usual poison. But when I compared the two containers you receive almost twice the amount of product in the Hunts container so like for like its better value for money.

Frog’s Fanny has been my favourite treatment for a number of years and retails at £8.99. The Hunts equivalent for a comparable size bottle is a pound cheaper. I looked at some other Dry shake floatants and the Hunts products were a £1.00 less. So far, my wallet was winning, but would it do what it says on the packaging?

The first thing was to check it was still in one piece especially the mud! My biggest gripe with mud is that it tends to dry out, subsequently you are dipping it in the river trying to get some moisture back into it. The Hunts Mud was still very moist (even after the extended stay in the garage) and it was easy to remove a small amount to degrease the leader. It did not clump up and a thin workable coat clung to the leader so that you would only notice when you held it up to the light. As the leader landed on the water which was very still it only took a little time to cut through the surface film. So, a big thumbs up for the mud!

I wanted to try and give you some hard evidence as to the quality of the product so did a bit of messing around in my office with it. I used three different types of dry fly a large Jingler pattern, parachute Adams and a little CDC number. As you can see from the photos, the flies started out dry and untreated. I then gave them a thorough soaking in water before applying the various products to the flies.

(Please click on the flies for a better look)

 

 

Overall I was pretty impressed with the Hunts Original products, they performed as well if not better in some cases than the stuff I currently use. My favourite was the Slime and Grime, with not much effort at all it really dried the big Jingler out no problem. I was speaking to Ben Bangham at the recent London Fly Fishing Fair and he suggested that the brush on the original floatant needs a bit of wearing in. He found that rubbing it on the back of your hand softens the bristles and makes it easier for application. Personally, I thought it was OK straight out the bottle but if you are finding when you have bought this product that the brush is a little stiff give Ben’s tip a go.

 Any of the products shown are available Hunts Original.