Simple Flies for Fishing: The Grey Duster

I had a conversation with Terry Bromwell about fly tying last night, we were discussing why people fly tie and what motivates them – we concluded that whilst a lot of the time some people tie and show other people flies that might look spectacular, demonstrating all sorts of wondrous techniques and using fancy materials etc., when it gets to what you actually put on the end of the line at the river it’s a different thing entirely.  At times, when faced with a fast flowing Welsh tributary or a slow moving back end of beyond tree tunnel, I’ve found myself feeling puzzled as to why I’m carrying all the flies in my possession, many of which I’ll probably never get wet.  

I’m not knocking those who tie for tying’s sake though, as I’m perhaps as guilty as anyone for this and enjoy social nights tying with my fishing club every couple of weeks;  a relaxed evening where we tackle all sorts of odd creations over a beer or two, helps you improve by running through technique exercises and the benefits of the different ideas swapped can’t be knocked.  All this is fine but if you’re like me, when you actually get down on the river to fish, you tend to go for simple flies that you know work well when it comes down to serious fish fooling.   I most often choose something that covers a lot of bases and acts consistently so that I understand how it performs when used in the waters I fish.   I pledged to myself that I’d start covering flies on my blog but rather that get carried away with fancy proposals, I thought it would be a good idea to get back to basics and start concentrating on flies that are simple and work well in the field – they may well still be creative and artistic but the bottom line is that I will be aiming to tie flies for publication that I am happy to fish with and would have no doubt in recommending to others.  We won’t rule out some unusual experiments at times perhaps but I’ll warn you when I’m going off-piste!

Now the main Mayfly hatch has been through, it’ll soon be time to take on more fickle fish – with this in mind, my first formal entry under ‘Simple Flies for Fishing’ is the Grey Duster (or at least a variant of that suits the materials I have).  It should perhaps have a Badger or Grey hackle and lighter Hare under dubbing but I’m after matching the Berkeley area bugs and Olives in general, so have gone a little darker.    The only unusual(ish) material in the fly below is the local Squirrel Tail, this could be replaced by many materials and a wing isn’t necessary if you want to keep it really simple, the reason I’ve used it in this instance is because it changes colour from white to a darker tone just at the length of the tie in point … a fickle little detail perhaps but I think in this instance it blends the forms together nicely.   I will aim to add a fly or two each month that suit the month / season from now on. 

Tight Lines, Splash


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