Posts Tagged ‘Parachute Flies’

The Easiest Way to Learn Flytying.

August 29, 2011

Launch of the World’s most innovative flytying instruction book.

It has been a dreadfully time-consuming exercise it has to be said, enough so that had I known the amount of work required maybe I would never have started, but that said my new eBook “Essential Fly Tying techniques” has now been “officially” launched. Perhaps most gratifying of all is that it has received some very very positive reviews from those who have seen the finished product and some very well-respected names amongst them.

Tom Sutcliffe, the elder statesman of South African fly fishing and well-known fly fishing author provided a wonderfully positive review of the book on his website “The Best Way to Learn Fly Tying”

Tom is the author of “My Way with a Trout”, “Reflections on Fly Fishing” and “Hunting Trout” a new version of the latest title is due for release shortly so I am even more grateful that Tom found the time to review my book.

The book contains some 80 full colour graphics, over 30 video clips of essential fly tying techniques and complete flies, full instructions on tying 14 killer patterns which at the same time illustrate the various techniques highlighted and one hopes it will indeed prove to be a new standard in fly tying tuition.

Some comments from reviewers of the book to date:

“This publication bridges the gap between traditional books and on-line video”..Ed Herbst Editor of Piscator Magazine.

“Awesome, I wish I this had been available when I started flytying”…. M Spinola, SA Commonwealth Flyfishing Team and bronze medalist in the SA National Championships.

“This is perfect, the video clips fill in the gaps that step by step sequences in traditional publications can’t cover and the patterns shown can form the basis of any worthwhile fly box……..MC Coetzer, Protea Team Angler and Coach of the SA Junior World Championship Team.

“This has to be the easiest way to learn,…engaging, ingenious and comprehensive, …this book is surely the first of its kind in the world..Dr Tom Sutcliffe, Author of “My Way with a Trout”, “Reflections on Flyfishing” and “Hunting Trout”.

So pleased as I am with the response now comes the hard part, marketing the book and I am hoping that those of you out there in the fly fishing underground can assist. The book is available directly from me at Inkwazi Fly Fishing both on a retail and wholesale basis. It is also currently available from fly fishing retailers and bookshops: Netbooks (On line book store), Mavungana (Fly Fishing retail in Johannesburg and Dullstroom), Wild Fly (Fly Fishing retail Nottingham Road) and hopefully more stores will follow shortly.


If you have a retail outlet anywhere in the world and would like to see a review copy of the book contact me on and I shall endeavor to provide you with a sample, alternatively if you can’t wait I will include a demo version with your order just so that you can see what all the fuss is about..

I am expecting reviews of the publication in key local and overseas magazines shortly and shall no doubt be able to keep you all posted in terms of progress there via this blog.


If you edit a fly fishing magazine and would like a review copy to feature your comments in your publication please again contact me and I shall willingly send you a review edition free of charge.

For more information you can see a breakdown of the contents of this unique eBook on the following You Tube Link


Should you wish to place an order you can do so by mailing me directly Mail Order Enquiry or you can download an order form from our website at options are available for both retail and wholesale orders from this page. Order your copy before the end of September and I will cover the postage no matter where you are in the world.

If you have seen the finished product please do feel free to leave a comment on this blog, it helps others to find it and of course provides unsolicited review of what I think is an exceptionally useful publication.

Now it is only a couple of days to the start of the fly fishing season on the streams of the Limietberg and hopefully I will once more be able to re-acquaint myself with rod , line and moving water, too much time in front of the computer can make Jack a dull boy, or indeed if not dull at least more than a trifle frustrated.

Thank you to those who have supported this blog to date. Don’t forget that you can subscribe to receive updates if you wish.

The book contains detailed graphics and embedded video clips


Bog Standard Parachutes

March 28, 2011

There are only a few variations of basic fly tying patterns which I use consistently. Certainly I have heaps of size and colour variations but the same old same old things work and keep working and I sort of figure “why fix it if it ‘aint broke”.

The BSP is one of those patterns, driven by the fishing guide’s need for simple and quick to tie flies that are at the same time effective, relatively inexpensive to manufacture and durable. It helps a lot that if a client hangs one in a tree you don’t have to choose between a long swim, bankruptcy or ritual seppuku.

Parachute patterns in general have a number of advantages to the average angler and despite the fact that standard Halfordian or Catskill ties have been around for years and are still viewed my many as the “standard dry fly” I personally fish very few Catskill ties these days. They have the annoying habit of landing upside down just as you manage to make that impossible cast into the bushes over a twenty inch fish and I demand a little more reliability at least when I can.

Firstly parachutes are not as limited by the dimensions as a Catskill tie is, make the tail too short on one of those and it falls over, make the hackle slightly larger and it will twist up your tippet like a dervish. Real Mayflies, Midges and Caddis flies actually vary considerably in their dimensions, not just size but the relative sizes of their wings, tails etc and that is not easily copied with standard ties.

With the parachute style one has almost complete freedom to vary those dimensions without mechanical failure, no matter the variation the fly lands the right way up most of the time and with modern materials as wing posts they are as visible as the proverbial canine’s naughty bits.

Emergence of parachute patterns have however out of convention followed many of the “rules” of the more standard dry flies, dubbing and quill bodies, standardized hackle sizes and the like, much of which can be pertinent but not always. Most of the natural insects on the small streams which I fish are tiny, and with that, skinny and sparse in nature. The majority of commercial patterns are by default over dressed, abdomens are too thick, hackling is too dense and the multitude of materials required frequently gives the patterns something of a portly and unnatural aspect which can be counter productive when fishing for selective trout. The image of the commercial Adams below also shows a whip finish at the head, a more traditional way of doing things and definitely less durable and less realistic than the method shown for the BSP.  Mostly I find that sparse is better and sparse parachute patterns float better and are more visible than sparse Catskill ties, primarily because there is more of the hackle in the surface film in the first place.

Many commercial patterns are overdressed and unrealistic.

Of course there is never one answer, particularly when it comes to flies and fly tying but these patterns are quick, simple, inexpensive and durable, not to mention effective. The style lends itself to tying in smaller sizes much needed on our local streams and with a bit of practice you can churn them out in various colour combinations to cover a lot of hatches both mayflies and midges..

The basic tying is the same for all and you can find out some more detail in my free downloadable eBook “Who Packed your Parachute” at Smashwords on the link

Since the publication of that title however there is one change that has been made to the way that I tie these flies and I now loop the parachute post around the hook. It took a while to get that right but now is more effective and provides a slimmer profile to the flies, something that I am always aiming at due to the skinny aspect of most of our stream’s insects.

The flies are tied with only variation of thread and hackle colours, I almost universally use Coq Du Leon feather fibres for the tails, they are long, shiny and easy to use. The abdominal colours come directly from the thread which gives one a massive amount of variety at low cost. Occasionally I will use bright coloured poly-yarn for the post for added visibility in poor conditions but that can sometimes spook the fish. Hackles are generally one colour but of course one can do the “Adams” thing and have two different colours if you wish, the process is pretty much the same.

Wrap the thread (usually 70 denier on the smaller patterns that I tie) approximately half way back the hook shank and bringing it back towards the eye leaving a gap for the “head” of the fly. On mayfly patterns in particular I prefer a more “Thorax style” with a decent amount of shank in front of the wing. Real mayfly wings do not stick out of their heads and there is a portion of the insect in front of the wing which I find hard to ignore. (Another variation from the normal Catskill style of fly pattern and to me an advantage in realism).

Loop a thin section of poly-yarn under the hook and double it over to form the post, one can position the post exactly where you want it done like this and get a very slim body at the same time. The trick here is to flip the bobbin around the “back” of the post with your left hand (for right handed tiers) and make a wrap around the post. Some “figure eight” wraps around the base of the post and the hook shank will secure it without undue bulk.

Then wind the thread in touching turns up and back down the post, this is achieved by holding the post with the none tying hand briefly on each wrap and pulling the thread tight, then backing off the tension slightly for the next wrap and so on. Done like this it won’t all spin off the post. With two wraps of thread (one up and one down the post) it will be stiffer and further wraps will become easier to achieve.

Catch in the stalk of a hackle (I prefer to use saddles which allow the tying of multiple flies without constantly selecting a new feather).  The stalk should be stripped to the sweet spot on single hackles. Use only one thread wrap to trap the hackle in place.

Then wrap in touching turns up and back down the wing post trapping the hackle as you go. It is preferable to have a short amount of bare hackle stalk at the top of the post so that the first half wrap to wrap of the hackle is stalk only, this makes for a neater finish in the end.

With the hackle tied in place make touching turns of thread along the abdomen, catching in the remainder of the hackle stalk along the hook shank. Done like this you save the trouble of cutting it off and at the same time add a nice taper to the abdomen whilst stabilizing the post. Tie in a bunch of Coq Du Leon fibres for the tails, you can of course use split tails or whatever but this is the fastest and simplest approach.

Wind the thread back in touching turns along the shank, trapping down the butts of the tail fibres and trim them when you get to the post. A thicker body can be achieved by adding a second layer of thread should you want that.

Take the thread past the post and build a neat “head” of thread on the shank returning the thread to the base of the post and then IMPORTANTLY, make one wrap of thread around the base of the post so that the thread is now wrapping around the post and not the hook shank. This will be important in a moment when you trap the wound hackle to the post.

Tip the hook shank slightly downwards in the vice as this makes winding the hackle easier than simply winding completely horizontal.

Wrap the hackle in touching turns down the post, this is a far stronger and neater way of tying in the hackle than the commonly used method of winding it up and back down again. Done like this the hackle will not slip off the post after a fish or two.

Leaving the hackle pliers hanging on your side of the hook catch in the hackle to the post with a single wrap of thread and trim the excess.

Touch a few millimeters of thread with super glue on a brush to wet it and make two wraps carefully around the base of the post catching in the hackle at the same time. (A super glue whip finish). Pull the thread tight supporting the hook for a moment for the glue to take and trim the excess thread.

Finally trim any fibres which have been caught in the thread and are pointing downwards, and there you have it, a Bog Standard Parachute fly. Once into your stride you should be able to tie around a dozen an hour, maybe more. Changing thread and hackle colours you can imitate almost any midge or mayfly in suitable sizes.

Certainly this probably isn’t going to win any “most complicated fly” competitions, but they are highly durable and effective and will offer you options to cover any number of different hatches.

Variations: Obviously colour variations are easy to achieve and with the wide variety of thread colours available you can let your artistic skills run riot. In addition, coloured posts for greater visibility, longer posts also aid sighting the fly on rough water. You can of course dub the bodies, use ribbing or even quill and hackle stalk for the abdomens if you would like to. A twist of dubbing around the thorax and head will give neater finish on quill bodies but mostly I use these simple thread creations and they work just fine as they are.

Tan Parachute Mayfly


Olive Parachute Mayfly

Olive BSP



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Tying Flies and Writing Books

June 28, 2010

Winter and nothing to do but write and tie flies.

New Free E book Published.

The lack of content on this blog of late has been a result of a total lack of fishing, tricky to get motivated or to have something to rant about when you haven’t been on the water. More so when half the world is in the middle of their fishing season and the only result of reading magazines is envy. Not an honorable subject for a blog. If you have seen the latest edition of Fly Life you will understand the envy issue, those fish are so big as to upset the most level headed.

Still I have been trying to follow some of the competition scene; South Africa did well in the World Championships, getting their best placing ever I think, and finishing fifth. Sounds as though they were touch and go for a bronze medal up to the end but if you have ever fished a competition like this you know that it isn’t over until the fat lady sings.

The Commonwealth Championships also saw the SA men’s team take a fifth place and the Aussies get a gold. This is something of an achievement because to my mind in many ways the “out of towners” that is the New Zealanders, the South Africans and the Aussies have more of a disadvantage at the Commonwealths much of the time. They are fishing against teams who virtually regard the venues as home waters and they do a good deal more boat fishing than the Oceana crews do. So a great result for the Aussies. Well done.

Alas the ladies teams of both South Africa and Scotland were lying at the bottom of the log, it seems a great pity but I know that they don’t get a heap of help from the men most of the time and they don’t have quite the experience levels that many of the male teams do. I was particularly interested in the SA ladies team as I had some vested interest and had tried to offer some assistance prior to their departure. The South Africans got the Friendship trophy again, nice but I think that it is about time that we thrashed a few teams and annoyed a few people; the consensus is obviously that we can afford to be friendly because we aren’t a threat. 🙂

Still from my past experience the Commonwealths is really a friendly if at the same time highly competitive championship, and to my mind shows that one can have both without the loss of either. After all fishing is supposed to be fun at least most of the time, wet waders, cold hands and hooks in the ear are enough you don’t need to be unfriendly as well.

New E book published.

I have for a long time enjoyed playing with fishing flies and in particular as a fishing guide trying to both maximize their efficacy whist at the same time minimizing their complexity. As a result of experimentation and lots of thrashing over a hot vice there are some ideas which seem to have stuck and perhaps the most useful is the modernization of the way I tie parachute fly patterns. So recently I added another short e book to my collection at Smashwords on tying parachutes that are more durable, quicker to manufacture and quite possibly more imitative at the same time.

There are still many anglers who don’t particularly like parachute patterns and don’t necessarily understand their advantages. They probably do however understand their disadvantages, they tend to fall to bits the commercial ones are almost always overdressed and some methods of manufacture require specialized tools and different techniques. In my most recently published booklet, which is available to download for free I cover some of these problems and demonstrate an easy and durable means of whipping these flies out by the dozen in short order.

“Who Packed Your Parachute” is a short booklet that can be downloaded in a variety of formats from pdf file to Kindle editions and provides both text and illustrations on how I tie parachutes and hopefully provides some useful information for those who would like to do the same with more efficiency and durability built in.

You can download your own copy from Smashwords by clicking here.

In case you haven’t seen it there is another free e book (well it is really more of a fact sheet than a book but still) on the same site on building your own fly fishing lanyard and you are of course most welcome to download that as well you can get hold of it by clicking the front page image below.

Fact sheet on manufacturing your own lanyard.

I am supposedly going to get on the water next week at a commercial lodge, the fishing isn’t likely to be the best, I far prefer rivers to dams but the rivers are all closed and the dam fishing there is bank based on a relatively small bit of water. Still any port in a storm and it will be a pleasure to unleash a fly line again, no matter the water.

For now the sun is still shining, the river season is getting closer and there is still enough time to tie up some flies for the fishing and guiding season without having to rush things too much. The winter solstice is passed and we should be on the home run to the river season. In reality probably not, the worst of the winter storms generally come in after this point in the calendar and just because the club says that we will be able to fish in September doesn’t mean that the meteorologists will agree, either way it is something to  which to look forward.