10 MAY – Gordon van der Spuy

The Feather Mechanic

The last meeting of the Spring season was a talk by Gordon van der Spuy on his approach to designing and tying fly patterns. The tenet ‘Form follows Function’ is Gordon’s approach to designing fly patterns. Basically, you need to ask yourself what the fly is designed to do and how must it be presented.

Gordon showed his dressing of a skinny damsel in the various stages, including a detailed description of how materials are tied in and why. One innovative aspect that this author has not seen before, is the marking on the thread wraps of where the stages of the body is tied in, e.g. where the thorax is added on a nymph.

Gordon is particularly fond of adding CdC (Cul de Canard) to his patterns to give added mobility to his flies.

Gordon’s book (The Feather Mechanic – 2020 Tandym Print) describes Gordon’s philosophy and has several well known and new patterns.

Gordon writes in an easy style with stories of his fishing prior to the fly patterns. Drawings showing the aspects of the tying procedure give a clear view of what is to be tied and how it is done. This is a very readable book and a useful addition to the tyers’ library.

12 APRIL- Paul Proctor

“A look at upwinged flies and their imitations”

Paul is a regular contributor to fishing magazines and is Vice President of the Wild Trout Trust and Salmon and Trout Conservation.

Paul focussed on various upwinged flies and their imitations. He described the likely upwinged flies that you can expect to see on UK still-and running-waters, including Olives, March Browns, Duns, Mayfly and other upwinged Patterns.

Paul seems to posses an encyclopaedic memory, being able to give the dressing details of various patterns and what the same pattern will represent in various sizes of fly, e.g. Size 16 of a generic pattern will resemble a Medium olive or a Blue Winged olive; the same pattern in a size 12 represents an Olive Upright.

He showed slides of many of the flies describing the characteristics of each in recognition and differentiation of each. He suggested it was better to have a general fly than an exact copy (this fact was carried on in the May presentation) . Paul is also an advocate of simple flies and uses CdC (Cul de Canard) in many patterns.

The photographs and descriptions of the patterns were circulated to the attendees of the meeting. Unfortunately, they cannot be shown on this page, due to copyright reasons.

8 MARCH : Peter Gathercole (FDG Chairman)

“Bugs through the lens”

Peter is a well known and respected Anling journalist, an excellent photographer and is the current Chair of the Fly Dresser’s Guild.

Peter gave an interesting description of the various insects that Trout eat with clear photographs of each insect. Peter is an excellent photographer and his photos have been included in many various Fishing magazines over several years. He described many different aspects to tying the patterns and showed each pattern with a detailed photo of the natural fly.

The Damsel Fly Nymph was one particular pattern that was described in detail. The natural insect swims just under the surface, so imitations should follow the same action. Too often DFNs incrporate a metal bead at the head and sink much lower than naturals (but they catch fish!). So an unweighted pattern could use foam in the thorax, or no extra addition at all. If you want the fly to fish lower in the water, add weight (lead wire or metal bead). Similarly foam can be used to keep shrimps higher up near the surface, or better still corixa when they come up for air, and snails when they sit just under the surface.

One particular pattern took this author’s interest, the emerging mayfly pattern. Peter’s version uses a cream fibre (or seal’s fur) body with deer hair and CdC (Cul de Canard – duck’s preen feathers) as a wing.

8 FEBRUARY : Steve Silverio

The Development of the dry fly for Atlantic Salmon

On Monday 8th February at 8pm. we will have our first “Zoom” meeting. Steve Silverio, from Philadelphia USA will give a talk on the history of dry fly fishing for Salmon. Steve is a fantastic fly tyer and regularly fished the Gaspe and Bonaventure rivers for salmon specialising in dry fly fishing. He will cover the evolution of the dry fly for salmon, from its origin in the UK to the development of Buck Bugs and Bombers. Details of the meeting will be sent out to members and invited guests very soon. If anyone else would like to join please contact us and we will arrange an invitation. We can cater for a maximum of 100 attendees.

Steve has attended BFFI shows and also contributed to the FLYDRESSER.

A brief precis of Steve’s talk is being prepared and will be shown here when complete.


The first meeting of the year was the 43rd Annual General Meeting and the first virtual meeting. A select group comprising the Committee and eight ordinary members ‘attended’ via Zoom.

Following usual custom, the Chairman presented his report as did the Treasurer. The Chairman thanked the Committee for their hard work and especially the Treasurer, who was stepping down from the role, which was being taken over by the Secretary.

The remainder of the Committee was re-elected. There was a general discussion on the recent survey and the planned resumption of the fly-tying classes. It is anticipated these would be via Zoom. A discussion followed on future plans for meetings and speakers, how we could collaborate with other ‘groups’ and ideas on advertising the Branch.

10 MAY : Subject to be advised