Wednesday, 4 May 2016

fingers and thumbs - PTN's and kebari

All this talk of chasing chalk stream salmo with tenkara has got me looking into my motley collection of trout fly boxes and I have found them wanting.. wanting some concerted effort from me that is. Normally I prefer to fish with flies that I have tied myself. Shop bought ones are quick and convenient and probably work out cheaper in the long run, but when I fish with them it only feels like I am doing half the job. And my river fly collection looks a little depleted, probably because I've never tied up that many in the first place. You see, before the tenkara bug got me I was neglecting the finer side and had wandered into the dark badlands of predator fly fishing. 

So having spent the last couple of years exclusively tying predator flies I am thinking it is high time to re-introduce a bit of subtlety into my tying. The jump in scale from a 6/0 down to a size 14 hook is mindwarping, heaven alone knows what a size 20 would feel like. I did once see a ‘reed smut’ pattern tied on a size 30 hook but right now to me a size 14 feels microscopic. My fumbling fingers feel like they are engaged in nano-technology. So I thought I would start with some nice and easy sakasa kebari ties to ease myself back in to it. For these I use 6/0 thread, size 14 scud hooks and a variety of cock and hen hackles. I love how relaxing these patterns are to tie and once I get into the flow it I don't want to stop.

Now with a few eastern style wets in the fly box I am thinking that a few old western classics would add some 'true grit' to the collection (ouch, sorry couldn't resist). Still keeping it simple, I look to my go-to old faithful the pheasant tail nymph. In some ways in shares some philosophy with kebari in that's its really a suggestive pattern rather than an imitation. This I think is its great strength, and it can be presented like the kebari in so many ways. It has certainly saved me from defeat on many occasions, particularly for still water trout, but its originator Frank Sawyer created it for the southern chalkstreams of England, so it seems a fitting choice for my up and coming trip to the River Wandle. While I would normally stick with a traditional version of the PTN for stillwaters I decide for the brisk flow of the little river a modern update could work well, so I add in a gold head. I also want a really buggy and quite scruffy look so I also add in a fat little thorax with peacock herl. This forms a nice bump to fold the wing case back over. The end result is much more like an American variant of the original pattern. I'm feeling a lot of confidence in the finished fly which I think goes a long way to putting fish in the net. Time will tell..

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