The club was treated to a day of fly-tying by none other than the Feather Mechanic himself, Gordon van der Spuy.

The synopsis for the day in his own words –
“The workshop aims to acquaint tiers with the finer points when it comes to fly tying. The goal is not only to get you to recognize the detail but to see and understand it. My goal is to get you seeing tying in a logical way, to get your understanding why it is you’re doing what you doing and to make stuff come alive for you.” – Gordon van der Spuy

Form Follows Function!

It is not about the pattern – It is about what the pattern does. Detail is important. Keep the fly in the face of the fish; they will go for it.

  • Think about what you want the fly to do.
  • The devil is in the detail. It is the small things that make the difference.
  • Quality – People look but do not see. Take time to think about the impact of the material used on the quality of the pattern.

What stops the fly from sinking – RESISTANCE.

The fly does not have to look “designer”. FISH DON’T GIVE A SHIT! They need to behave in the manner you want.

If the river flows fast the fish tend to be lower down to eliminate drag and resistance.

In the dry years/seasons when there is less water, nymphs stand out. Contrast is important; CDC is important. Better for wet flies; in-built mobility. It has resistance to dangle in still water, not fast-flowing water.

Why is CONTRAST important? VISIBILITY – it POPS out at you. If the fish can see the fly, it can eat the fly!


  • In-built mobility improves movement.
  • Optical footprint – triggers

CDC when wet

  • When it is wet, it is wet; try and keep it dry
  • Mix with hackle, hackle gives structure and keeps it stiff
  • Translucency is important – CDC is translucent when wet

TRIGGERS – Catch attention

  • Profile
  • Translucency
  • Contrast
  • Movement
  • Mobility

Fly Tying Info Session

HOOKS – Do not use 100’s of different types of hooks; use only three –

  1. Gamakatsu F11 – Dry flies
  2. Gamakatsu F11 2S – Nymphs
  3. Gamakatsu C12 – Emergers
  • Used to find Gamakatsu hooks in the carp section at Mias.


  1. Danville #6/0 70 Denier
  2. Griffith 14/0 Sheer Ultrafine
  3. Uni Trico 17/0
  • Don’t like waxed; if I want wax, I’ll put it on. Do not want fibres to clump together because of waxed thread.
  • Ideally use thin as possible thread. With every wrap, you introduce a twist, and the fly gets thicker. After a couple of wraps, you need to un-twist the thread. Let it hang to unwind.
  • To get the thread flat, unwind it and hang it over fingernail.
  • Do not use nano-silk, it is KAK –
    • It has no stretch
    • Slippery as heck
    • Makes thread sticky
  • To unwind thread –
    • Right-handed tier – unwind anti-clockwise
    • Left-handed tier – unwind clockwise
  • Always wrap away from you
  • To bulk, wrap more thread but use material economically
  • Less dense fly casts better
  • It is important to have a thread base as a foundation
  • When tying smaller patterns thread control is important
  • We use too much material –
    • Use less dubbing


  • It is important how much you use
  • On a dry fly it determines where the fly sits in the water
  • Can also add a subtle flash
  • Flash is contextual
    • In clear water fish is vol kak
    • If the water is dirty use flash
  • Fish see near-UV, but cannot see UV
  • UV materials are effective

SPIDERS – legs break

  • Use Pattex 100 on fibres to make legs hard and strong, they do not break

How to whip finish by hand