Robert L Smith and The Sliding Stream blog

If you opted for the Discover Tenkara Small Streams bundle, you may have already seen John’s and Paul’s first road trip video diary addition uploaded into the “Rediscovering Cutcliffe” section of the website.

In which they go in search of a certain type of cattle fur used to tie an old fly pattern from the 1800s & also manage to miss their exit off the freeway on their way home. Actually I half expected to see Paul, the driver, get carried away with his story telling and run in to someone. :face_with_hand_over_mouth: [my understanding is that at some future date they will upload the same video to their youtube channel]

They talk about The Forgotten Flies of Roger Woolley. [Thomas Roger Woolley, 1877 ~ 1959]. A book written in 2012 by J.N. Watson.

I decided to do an internet search for - the forgotten flies of roger woolley. In the images of the search results I saw a picture of a thick fly wallet that looked very similar to the ones shown in their video diary. This webpage:

Which turned out to be the blog of Roger L Smith. The Sliding Stream. I found it kind of fun to look at the various entries. Maybe you will, too.
" From the ancient we come to the relatively modern Lupton’s Fancy. This was the creation of Philip Lupton with the collaboration of the famed Derbyshire fly-dresser Roger Woolley…"

Paul Gaskell is also given credit for reigniting his interest in horse hair lines following his exposure to them being used for tenkara fishing in Japan.
" Many years later however, this dormant interest in horsehair casts was rekindled again, thanks to a series of conversations with Dr Paul Gaskell from Discover Tenkara. Throughout these conversations, Paul championed the qualities of Japanese horsehair leaders used in Tenkara fishing, and their ease of casting. An opinion that not only I respected, but more importantly an opinion that prompted me to once again return to possibility of fishing traditional horsehair north country spider casts. …"

The Sliding Stream Home Page:

Maybe you will find some inspiration for fly pattern experimentation or some fun reading on a cold winter’s day. :grinning:


Thank you David for sharing this information. I have always been fascinated about wet flies and the history. Awesome information.

Part of the fun is finding names of people on that website who developed the various flies, and do an internet search about them or the fly if it was given a name, which may lead to finding other old patterns. And I often find the the types of flies tied over 100 years ago interesting. An interest I think started after reading Paul Schullery’s book, Fly-fishing Secrets of the Ancients - a celebration of five centuries of lore and wisdom".

“A real old fly pattern, the Bracken Clock is a highly effective beetle imitation dating back to at least the 1840s.”

I think the method Martyn White uses to tie this fly will make it robust enough to be chewed on by fish and endure to become scruffy, and perhaps thereby become more attractive to fish.

One could easily adapt the basic method to tie a flies in sakasa, futsū or jun kebari style. Or with stiff or soft hackle.

Instead of tying in a piece of floss to wrap around the peacock herl, as Martyn did, I have used a similar method I discovered in a fly tying video by a well known western style fly fishing Japanese angler a few years back. (sorry I do not recall his name, I discovered his book on the Yoshidakebari blog).

What you do is just leave a long tag end from your tying thread, do not cut it off, then use the tag end to wrap it around the peacock herl, or wool yarn, or wrap dubbing on it. Before wrapping it round the hook shank. The free end would be secured by half hitches and being over wrapped by the tying thread as you finish tying the fly.

Book review: The North Country Fly ー Yorkshire’s soft hackle tradition by Robert L Smith.

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Ah, I found the video I referred to earlier wherein a method is used leaving a long tag end on the tying thread. In this case used to secure the hackle fly body on an Elk Hair Cadiz. But using a long tag end can be adapted to secure many other types of body materials.

The fly tier is Nishiyama Tetsu [ or Tōru , 西山徹 ]. Author of a book, フライフィッシング―100の戦術, Fly Fishing - 100 Tactics.

[Tōru Nishiyama] Elk Hair Cadiz for Trout [Tōru Nishiyama] (sm8773443)
Sorry I could not find a way to embed the video, only the link to the webpage.

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Way back in the late 1980s I was shown a method of tying down fine copper or silver wire to the shank, tying in the herl, wrapping the thread forward, wrapping the herl forward and tying it off, then wrapping the wire forward and tying it off. It used a couple more turns of thread that wasn’t noticable. It is very durable and the wire on top of the herl adds a bit of bling to the iridescence of the herl.

To get a more understated look with good durability I started using the method Chris Stewart demonstrated in a video that wraps thread back from the eye, ties in the herl then pulls some extra thread off the bobbin and spins the herl onto the tying thread. The spun herl on the thread is wrapped forward with the bobbin then tied down.

Obviously the Martyn White method provides an easy method to have a muted contrasting thread or wire rib color from the fly’s head spun into the herl. Is there another advantage to spinning the herl onto a free thread end as shown by Martyn or the Japanese tyer?

I do not know the answer to your question.

Here’s a video showing another method. The Japanese fly tier, in the video description credits Tōru Nishiyama for recommending the high floating elk hair cadiz. I believe Tōru-san passed away about eight years ago. But he had produced many vhs videos and other books during the peak of his angling days.

Anyway, here is the video I watched earlier in the day, that lead to me discovering the video of the Bracken Clock fly video, I posted earlier (what an odd name, isn’t it?)
Adam Rieger gets a big thanks in the DT blog post for sending in flies he tied inspired by the Cutcliffe book.

Flies for Trout: A Taster on What to Tie & Buy

*Author: Paul Gaskell

On the below website are a few of Robert Smith’s photos of flies, as well as Paul’s interesting opinion / advice about fly choices for different fishing conditions.

One of Robert Smith’s photos is the Waterhen Bloa North Country Spider;
Paul writes that north country spiders performed best when fished with long supple rods, with most of line held off the water, the original rods used had no reel, just like…Tenkara
Here is another Martyn White video showing how he ties it.

Note that he uses a little different method tying in the tip of the feather as he begins to tie this fly.

I often find it interesting to see different tying methods used in fly tying videos, Not so much to tie the pattern being shown, but to ponder how I might use the same technique tying other patterns I like, If there is an advantage using the same method to make a more robust fly. Or just to do things a little differently for variety.

Martyn uses an interesting method folding back the tag end of the tying thread in this next video as he ties the Mini Stick - which he describes as a variation of a stick fly caddis. It is a little bit like the kebari pattern favored by Katayama Etsuji-san. [ 片山悦二さんの毛鉤 ]. However, his kebari has a shorter peacock herl segment, and he uses a wool body, that I most often over wrapped with green or orange thread.
Looks like it would be an effective pattern.


David, again thank you many times over for sharing this information. I have always loved wet flies. I’m not sure what my fascination with them is about but maybe it is the simplicity and natural beauty of these flies. I even fish them as dry flies and get excellent results. These flies are my go to flies when all else fails.

I agree. Thank You @dwalker for this topic.

Are there any traditional kebari that were tied in a winged wet fly profile like similar to a * Leadwing Coachman, or * Light Caddis? With a western rod quartering downstream I can swing them under branches, within a couple of inches along a log, around rocks and corners, into an undercut bank… that are hard to fish with dry flies. But what really impresses me is the aggressiveness of the takes by both dinks and larger fish, often hooking themselves as they turn after taking the fly on the swing.

Thanks guys. My guess is Todoroki-san could best provide an answer to that question, allowing some conversation about the topic. He ties a lot of winged flies, sometimes it is clear they are western patterns, such as the Dette Coffin fly from the Catskills, but other times it is not so clear to me if they might be original Japanese patterns. In some blog post the text seems to focus more on the materials used rather than the source of the fly pattern. The often odd digital translations do not help.

The Yoshikazu Fujioka website certainly contains some kebari that have wings made of feathers or just bits of peacock herl that are tied in like wings. Examples being the kebari from " Okushinano Uonogawa upper area, and couple of the kebari / kabari from " Higashishinano Ueda area".

Same two webpages in original Japanese language, where you can pick up the original names in Japanese text for further internet searches:

Paul & John from Discover Tenkara have been writing, & filming about H. C. Cutcliffe flies & fishing methods for a few weeks. Their latest blog post is about their “Rediscovering H.C. Cutcliffe” book.

I thought I had never heard of Cutcliffe before. Then today I found an old post on the TUSA forum posted on Sept 5, 2010 by DNicolson [ I seem to recall he used to have a website, now apparently gone]

A quote of DNicolson’s forum post:

" I have been lurking around for a couple
of weeks now, dipping into various strings
about the flies being used.

This one about hook size is interesting and
made me reread Cutcliffes book (1863) called
’Trout Fishing on Rapid Streams’.
What I found interesting was Daniels statement
that he often used size 10 or even size 8 hooks.
Cutcliffe advocated larger sizes, bushier and
brighter coloured (red, yellow and orange) flies
for catching trout on the fast streams of the
North Devon Moors.
Although he used a reel, his rod was a 12ft
lancewood, note the length, for small, fast streams.
Anyway it was the hook size I was looking at.
Here are a couple of flies I tied Cutcliffe style a few years
ago. I dressed them bright on size 8 wetfly hooks."

tenkarausa forum Fly Sizes

Donald Nicolson’s Historical Wet Flies & Spider Patterns Site may be no more.
But an internet search for Donald Nicolson flies - will turn up a lot of references to his flies. Such as this one:

Or this one, which also repeats the above information, but includes “the Night Stalker”:

Unfortunately, it appears that many pictures of D. Nicolson’s flies found on different website, were linked back to his website, and when his website went away, the pictures on most other websites also went away. :disappointed:

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