Friday, 4 December 2015

Permit tips

Reading up and getting ready to fly to Cancun in two weeks. I came across this article in Hatch Mag

Thoroughly good reading.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Getting closer

My first trip to Mexico is  coming soon, almost ready on the gear front, just need to pick up some new leader material and make sure my shots are up to date.  The fly tying is almost done too, still a few more crabs and stuff to tie for the permit, but bones and tarpon are taken care of.  Might stick a few sundries in for jacks and cudas . Getting excited.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

New Relationship

I recently joined the pro-staff of Sybai materials . As I just took delivery of my first batch of materials, you'll be able to see some of the flies I tie with their stuff on the Sybai YouTube page soon.

Looking forward to featuring a range of carp, saltwater and trout flies on here soon.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Fly Tying for beginners

If you've been reading this blog, you'll probably know about my YouTube channel, that might even be how you got here.  Well It's growing nicely and For the most part the feedback is good, and I am getting better at the filming and editing.  One thing I have been getting asked about though is beginner's stuff.  So I decided I'd do a beginner series of simple flies that catch fish and help beginners become more adept in their tying skills.  I'm starting with some still water trout videos and I'll move on to river bugs, dries and eventually salt water covering a range of basic and slightly more advanced  skills as I go. with the flies within each section becomming slighlty less easy as they go along.

Here's the first video

Busy Summer

Busy Summer

Well I've had a super busy summer so not much time to write on here, especially when instagram and twitter are so quick.  Poor substitute I know, but there's been a lot going on.  First thing is  I got an article published in the North Forty E-magazine which you can read here HERE it's an introduction to Fly fishing for carp  with a Japanese twist. Really happy with it and hoping to have some more articles in other publications soon

I've also just made Flicking feathers into an actual business, doing fly tying demos, teaching and selling custom flies which is going pretty well, but it's keeping me busy all the time.. keep your eyes peeled for a webshop coming soon-hoping to have some logo printed technical shirts and the like as well as fly tying stuff.


Not been out as much as I'd like, but then I never do fish as much as I'd like.  Between work, Youtube and tying I've only managed about 1 trip a week, mostly for river carp but did manage a few others, notably for me my first small mouth bass, I know that's maybe not a big deal to a lot of people but I'm Scottish. There're no freshwater bass there, I caught largemouth on Holidays to Ontario as a kid, but smallies have eluded me until I found a river just outside Tokyo with a reasonable population.  

There he is, just a little guy, but first timers are always cool.  I was pretty surprised at how hard he fought after nailing my foam hopper.  It's a great little rvver with plenty of carp and some picky Snakehead too. Still haven't caught a snakehead from running water, they don't seem as aggressive as in the lakes.

Here's a nice rubber lips that took a mottlebou backstabber from the same stream.

Another First

A couple of weeks ago a few of the guys from Tokyo Fly Fishing and Country Club arranged an offshore trip looking for Mahi Mahi.  It was pretty rough -almost got cancelled but we made it out there.  Our friend Seichi bought himself a nice new 10 weight set up for the trip-he's more used to a 10ft 3 weight and little mountain stream trout  Obviously this was a completely different game for him, but he managed excellently taking a few small dolphin on a sea habbit.  By the end of the day we were destroyed from pulling in mahi-losing some to sharks and chasing Tuna on bait balls-unfortunately we didn't hook up to any of those guys.  In the end we switched to popping in spinning gear cause it was just too rough and even though we could cast the flies we couldn't retrieve them fast enough to overcome the drift of the boat.

Seichi's first dolly, who was invited home for dinner


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Stu's Fly Shop!

This is something that's been doing the rounds recently and is quite a worry. I'd encourage you all to get behind Stu's Fly Shop and support in anyway you can.  This could happen to your local fly shop too.

Follow the link to find out more.

Friday, 12 June 2015


Sharks on Fly has been something I've been thinking a lot about over the last year or so.  Definitely something I am keen to try.  Here's a cool video I found on you tube going over some of the basics.

Friday, 29 May 2015

The research continues

Still tying for mexico, and filming the patterns as I go, but also reading like crazy about permit.
Here's one of my favourites so far.

And here are some of the most recent flies I've been tying


Tarpon Bug

Monday, 18 May 2015

Going to the Yucatan

Heading off to Mexico this coming winter, so I've been hitting the vice.
First on the list is the McCrab deer hair crab


Saturday, 2 May 2015

More bonefishy goodness

Continuing with my fly tying videos recently, I've been doing a bunch of bonefish flies to build my YouTube Channel (click here to sub)   so I thought I'd add them here  in one go than add separate posts as I go along later.
Martyn's mantis

Borski craft fur worm

The slamaroo

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Another bonefish fly

I've been quite busy at the vice recently, doing flies for myself and a couple of small custom orders.  While I've been tying I've been filming too
Today I did 3 videos and here's the first, the classic bonefish fly; the bonefish bitters.  Enjoy

Friday, 20 March 2015

The Other, Bonefish Fly

Being off work for a few days I've been able to get on with some more tying videos.  Here's one of a bonefish fly I designed for skinny water finicky fish.  Like this one. You can see the fly hanging from its jaw.

Here's the video, enjoy.  I hope it catches you  a few fish.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Getting a newbie started

A new Junkie...

Last week I took out David, an experienced angler, but a new comer to the sport of fly fishing.  Since coming to Japan he's been struggling to catch fish of any kind, so found us through the TFFC Facebook page and decided to buy am 8 weight set up to get started. After having a chat about flies and gear etc. we arranged a Monday on a target rich little river near me.  However, these targets are carp, but given the choice of fishery and the time constraints it seemed like the best option.

At the start of march it's still a bit chilly in the morning, so no need for early rises, we met at the station around 9.30 and made our way up to the river.  David was amazed at the number of fish we were seeing and it was pretty hard to convince him to wait till we got to the top so we could work our way back down stream.

By the time we got to the weir that marks the top of the stretch, David was champing at the bit to get started.  Having watched a few of my videos he'd tied some of his own flies and wanted to try them, so I picked a biggish pink soft blob from his box and we went down to fish the run in at the weirpool.

Obviously as a beginner David is still ironing out his casting, but he could cast far enough for anything in this stream, and we just had to try and work on his accuracy, but after a few minutes of coaching he managed to flick a short 18ft cast at a nice little carp which cooperatively sucked in the blob.. David didn't strike, he was waiting to feel it. So a quick reminder to watch for the fish sucking it in and a sharp strike and we were ready to go again as three fish came into range, heads down and munching, another cast and the blob was drifting nicely down to the pod.... gills flared blob disappeared, David struck!  First Fish on fly after about 20 minutes of fishing and it's a river carp!!

Not a big fish, but a great first fish on fly!

As we went down stream the fish in the clearer water away from the weir were rejecting the big bright blob, and I had stuck a few fish on a little "mikam"  bead head so david elected to switch to another fly, something a bit more natural.  We pulled out a head stand from his box and after a few attempts and spooked fish managed to drop it on the nose of a feeding fish..result!  Carp number two and caught properly too.

 Not bad for someone who's only been tying a couple of weeks

The mikam bead head

We carried on downstream and David managed another few shots, missed some fish and caught another, finishing on 3 for the day for my 9...that's a pretty amazing effort for a first day of fly fishing in anyone's book...and he's totally hooked  I got a message last week saying he'd order another three outfits in 6, 10 and 12 weights to cover everything that is around here...  welcome to the addiction David.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Slow start to 2015.

After the disasterous trip to Okinawa, it took me a while to work up the motivation to get out again.  Actually it was about 5 weeks, I had been using the weather as an excuse, but really my head just wasn't there.. I firmly believe that fishing is at least 90% mental and if you can't get motivated, you're not going to perform.  Around the third weekend in January I convinced myself I'd have a good day if I went out to the river.  The Monday was the third successively warmer day in a row with non of the nights falling below freezing, if you can get this kind of pattern falling on your winter day off, it's usually a sign you'll have a good day.

So I set of for the river around 9.30 after giving the sun a chance to get up.. What I found when I arrived at the river ten minutes later was not a pretty sight.. the river bank had been totally shorn of all the trees and under growth for a good mile of the best stretch..

This used to be covered in 4ft high grass, mulberry bushes and shrubbery

It's a bit of a double edged sword having a clean bank, the fish are easier to spot and there are no hidden plants and twigs to trip you or give you away as you snap them... BUT, and it's a big but, there's nowhere for you to hide, it makes creeping up to fish siting in a foot or less of clear water incredibly tough.  The tall grasses and knot weed will be back strongly in a few months , but losing the mulberry bushes is a bit of a blow.  However, you can only fish the river in front of you and I walked on up to the weir that marks the end of the fish holding water. The weir pool was, as it often is, a bit dirtier than downstream.  I quickly rigged up a bright blob  under an indicator and let it run through the deep water on the near bank in front of a couple of nice fish, but didn't get a take.
As I didn't wan't to kill the swim I let it rest for a few minutes and just watched.  It's always worth sitting still and watching a feature that you know regularly produces fish... After about 5 or 10 minutes I watched 3 nice fish from around 5-10lb coming up onto a gravel bar in the middle of the stream, they were clearly on the feed as they worked their way across, it was the work of seconds to shallow up the indicator and flick a short cast well upstream of the fish and moments later I was connected to the smallest fish of the three...first fish of 2015!

carp on a soft blob under an indicator

It fought quite well for the time of year and spooked all the other fish in the pool so it was time to leave. I started creeping my way down stream as I came into the clear shallow water I took off the indicator and, after a couple of rejections on the blob, swapped to a little brown tailed hybrid. The hybrid is usually a reliable pattern, but it was steadfastly rejected by a string of fish I was sure would eat it.  It wasn't going to be as easy as the start of the session suggested.

John Montana's Hybrid.  Usually a banker.

I decided to push on downstream below the area that had been cut.  This brought  me to a deeper dirtier section, and out came the blob and indicator again. I could see fish cruising around actively searching in the current including the white koi that is always cutting about this stretch..I've never caught that fish but I always have a go when I see it.  The first cast and three fish charged my fly but the current meant I couldn't hold it in the zone long enough for them to reach it before I was swept away from them.  Another cast  at a different angle with a high rod tip to hold the line of the water had the blob drifting beautifully towards Moby Dick, and for the first time ever it was moving to take the fly...GREAT!  I was anticipating the take, really chuffed to eventually be catch this rogue that's been taunting me for the last few seasons.. and another ordinary fish charged up from below it in the most un-carp like way imaginable.  I don't know if I'd say I was disappointed to catch the little fatty, but I wasn't as pleased as usual!

Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory...the least pleasing fin perfect carp on the planet.

Moving on I the river widens and shallows up and the bottom becomes quite silty, off came the indicator and time for a fly swap.  The light was starting to make things a bit more difficult so I want for something dark that the fish and I would be able to pick out easily against the bottom..Time for Martyn's Midnight Magic.

 Here's a video of how to tie it!

As I worked my way along the bank, I felt much more comfortable with all the brush and trees to creep around. I quickly stuck a little fish right under the rod tip and then another a couple of minutes later.  They weren't big, but  were in great condition and had clearly been feeding well.

I blew a couple of shots  as I carried on, but managed another 3 fish by the time I came to the bridge where I originally joined the river.  I thought about heading further down and taking the long way home, but after catching the last fish I was on 7 from what had felt like a pretty slow day, and I was losing the light.Even though there were no big fish among them, it was a nice start. Time for a nice beer to celebrate getting back in the game!

Fat and fin perfect with a big tail.. that's how I like my carp, just need them to get bigger.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The failed GT quest of 2014

Last year I made several plans to go and fish an island in southern Japan, with the hope of getting my first Giant Trevally on the fly as well as ticking a few other species off the list.   It started when I was looking around on Google earth at some holiday destinations and spotted Kuroshima island  at the extreme Southern end of the Okinawan archipelago.

Kuroshima Island

It looked great and had good reports of quality GTs, bluefin trevally and both titan and yellow margin triggerfish.  I had to go, the first plan was for August, but that had to be put off because all 14 rooms on the island were fully booked by SCUBA divers.  No problem, I thought and took some leave at the end of September, being only a 4 hour flight from Tokyo makes it possible to go for a long weekend. So I got a box of GT flies and a collection of flats flies tied up and got ready to go.

GT brush flies

NYAPs and poppers

GT profile fly

And some triggerfish crabs and shrimps among others...

The 8 and 12 weights were ready, reels cleaned and checked , lines loaded with backups for the 12 weight just in case they got spooled.  Everything was good to go, but September is typhoon season amd a massive typhoon hit the day I was supposed to fly down... at least I didn't get stuck.  So I rescheduled for December (even in winter the average temps are in the mid 20s with water in the high 20s) I had to wait, but it meant I could have a bit longer exploring the flats.

 Flying over Fuji

Things were looking good and Hide from Tokyo Fly Fishing and Country Club was able to join me although his trip was starting and finishing a day before mine.  We arrived to great weather, 22 degrees and sunny with light winds.. things were looking good as I waited for the ferry from Ishigaki.

I managed to get out for a couple of hours on the day of arrival  and stuck a mid sized Blue fin trevally that came unstuck  somehow and I fluffed a shot at a tailing trigger on the South West side of the island. Really, my hopes were  high, the water was warm, I had seen a couple of fish and connected with one of the target species and had a shot at another.. I couldn't wait for the next day.

 Unfortunately, things didn't work out as planned and there was a steady temperature drop over the week, we still managed to fish most of the days and did get a couple of shots at GTs along with picking up some small reef fish, but the final straw was on the second to last day when the mercury plunged to 6 degrees C-according to the locals it was the coldest they'd seen for years- and there was a fish kill on the flats as a result.  It basically put paid to any hopes of catching anything else.

I'd definitely go back, but not in winter...I do have to say even though some of the biggest GEETs in the World are caught in southern Japan, my next GT trip is going to be  the Maldives or somewhere like that.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015