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Friday, 17 April 2020

Sawyer's Actual Flies - Davie MacPhail

Modern Classics


We've been tying up some Sawyer flies recently using Davie's simple how-to guides.
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Pheasant Tail - Davie MacPhail
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In this video, however, Davie is going through some flies tied by the famous Angler/River Keeper and Author Frank Sawyer himself. 


These classic patterns include The Killer Bug, Grey Goose and a Pheasant Tail Nymph/Franks "Bow Tie" Buzzer/Midge Pupa.

Davie has a good look at the patterns picking out some variations and little quirks, the use of foils, wools and wires that were available meant that these patterns were innovation borne of necessity. If we didn't have such an abundance of specific materials to choose from these days patterns could well be very similar, reclaimed from scrap or repurposed from other industries.
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As Davie mentions, there's still some footage of Frank tying available, here he is demonstrating the Pheasant Tail Nymph in the 1950s.


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Try some of these patterns for yourself, there's a reason that they've have endured for decades and are still catching fish today.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Shimano Spinning Reels Maintenance Guide

A simple guide from Shimano to help keep your reels running smoothly for longer.

Shimano® reels, when properly maintained, provide years of dependable high performance. Below are a few simple steps to help keep your Shimano® reels in top condition, as well as, preventative measures to avoid costly repairs.

List of tools that may be needed for service:
  • Small Flat Head Screwdriver
  • Small Phillips Head Screwdriver
  • Lubricant - Bantam™ Oil (BNT1445) or similar Oil & Grease
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Isopropyl (Rubbing) Alcohol
  • Tooth Brush
  • Paper Towels or Rags
Gather up tools and cleaning materials recommended to service reel. Some  Shimano® reels come with Bantam™ Oil but others are available. These simple tools are readily available at hardware stores.

Remove spool assembly by turning drag knob counterclockwise. On reels equipped with a rear drag, spool assemblies are release via push button and handle assembly.

Inspect spool assembly for damage. Pay special attention to the spool lip, as damaged or chipped spool lips will consequently cause premature wear on fishing line.


Clean exterior of the reel with cotton swabs and isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Clean off excess oil, grease, salt deposits or debris. Keeping reels clean helps prevent costly repairs or replacement.

Clean exterior of the reel with cotton swabs and isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Clean off excess oil, grease, salt deposits or debris. Keeping reels clean helps prevent costly repairs or replacement.

Lightly oil line roller assembly using Shimano® Bantam™ Oil. Regular oiling (after every fishing trip or two) will greatly increase the life expectancy of the line roller bearing.

Oil drive gear bearing (s). Bearings are visible with the handle assembly removed. Some reels
also have an additional drive gear bearing on the right-hand side.

On reels that are equipped with a Maintenance Port™ apply one or two drops of Shimano® Bantam ™ Oil. Do not use WD-40® or any degreaser, as it will cause premature wear and tear on the internal parts of your reel.

Oil bail arm assembly to maintain smooth and consistent bail operation. For further assistance, or to order parts, contact Shimano® Customer Service or your Shimano dealer.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

How To Maintain Your Rods, Reels & Flylines

Over the course of a season your gear can get into a mess but you can preserve your kit with some simple steps.

Completely air dry your rod and place it in a cloth bag and tube before storing.
You should periodically clean your rod with warm water and soap and let it completely dry. If you are using them in saltwater make sure you do this every time out.
Take the rod apart when you are done fishing to avoid stuck ferrules. Storing assembled rods saves you a little bit of time but when they are stuck solid you run the risk of damaging the rod trying to separate sections.
The application of a little wax can help prevent slipped joints and breakages. To protect the tip, it is best to bag your rod with the tip and handle up, remember not to tie the sock up too tight.
Use a simple cleaning spray for wiping down the outside, at the very least rinse them in clean fresh water and dry them thoroughly. We'd recommend using an air duster and a simple reel maintenance set that contains synthetic reel oil and precision reel grease for maintaining the moving parts inside.
If you’re not confident then it’s best to leave them alone as some disassembly is required – but be careful and you can easily keep your reel serviced without needing to do a full strip and build.

  • Clean the reel by rinsing with cool fresh water and dry.
  • Take care to thoroughly remove all sand and grit from the reel.
  • Leave the frame and the spool apart and dry out of the reel case.
  • Reduce the drag pressure to the lowest setting when the reel is not in use and store in a neoprene or cloth reel case away from extreme temperatures.

After use in saltwater, pay attention to cleaning the reel, as saltwater can leave a sticky residue that will harden over time and corrode ­unprotected metal parts of any reel.
Your flylines are dragged through muck and vegetation regularly. All those bits of grit add up and they’ll reduce the line’s lifespan.

Soak the flyline in warm water with some washing up liquid, five minutes should be grand unless it’s very dirty.
Gently pull the line through a cloth into another bucket of water to wipe off any remaining dirt. Don’t put too much pressure on the line, as the heat generated in the cloth can distort a flyline.
Gently pull the line back through a clean cloth, removing detergent and
dirt. You can then wind the line back on to your reel.
Floating fly lines can benefit from an application of one of the fly line treatments ­available but take care when using them on other lines in case you make your great intermediate line into a bad floater.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Sawyer's Killer Bug by Davie MacPhail

Another of Frank Sawyer's classic patterns, so simple and so effective. 

The story goes that Frank Sawyer originally developed the Killer Bug (in the 1930s) to eradicate grayling from the river Avon where he worked as the riverkeeper. Reportedly, the Killer Bug, which was tied to imitate a scud, was more effective than even netting or electro-fishing – hence the name Killer Bug. Now that’s a ringing endorsement if I ever heard one!

Chadwick's 477 Yarn is like hen's teeth now, original Chadwick’s 477 changed colour when wet from a greyish brown to a pinkish tan due to red fibres present in the wool, which presumably better matched the scuds Sawyer has was imitating. Chadwick's 477 hasn't been produced for decades now, all is not lost if you can't track down the original there are other options available to do a very passible imitation.



Davie's version below uses the original's two materials approach, with the addition of some superglue and varnish to make the pattern a more robust fishing fly.





Materials Used:


Additional materials: Additionally, Davie made use of Varnish and Superglue to improve the longevity of the pattern and prevent the wire from slipping whilst tying.

Davie recommends a ceramic bobbin holder, particularly when you're tying with wire, check them out HERE
Davie's preferred type of whip finish tool can be found HERE.






Thursday, 2 April 2020

Tying a Pheasant Tail Nymph by Davie McPhail

In his book Nymphs and the Trout Frank Sawyer describes
"The great joy in trout fishing comes with the knowledge one has deceived a fish into taking an imitation of the natural insect on which it happens to be feeding. If the fisherman is a fly-tier there is added pleasure, for in the occupation of making an artificial, he will be filled with the anticipation of seeing his creation accepted by a trout in mistake for the insect he has been at such pains to copy."

In the years since Frank Sawyer created his ubiquitous Pheasant Tail Nymph, tied using just pheasant tail fibres and copper wire, the fly has undergone as many variations as there are fly-tiers. Many of these variations involve the addition of tying threads, peacock herl, dubbed thoraxes and many beadhead pheasant tail patterns are used all over the world.




Frank Sawyer MBE, was an English River Keeper who devised the PTN for use on the chalkstreams of Southern England.
He designed this nymph to imitate several species of the Baetis family, generally referred to as the 'olives'; it quickly became world-famous.





Davie's version below uses the original's two materials approach. and while most of us won't have access to the copper-red transformer wire in Sawyer's notes but modern wires are a suitable alternative.




Materials Used:


Additional materials: Additionally, Davie made use of Varnish and Superglue to improve the longevity of the pattern and prevent the wire from slipping whilst tying.

Davie recommends a ceramic bobbin holder, particularly when you're tying with wire, check them out HERE
Davie's preferred type of whip finish tool can be found HERE.






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