top of page

For those that have spoken to me at shows, I am certainly not shy about telling people that I have been extremely lucky throughout my fly-tying career. At the age of 7 I was receiving my first fly casting lesson. By 11 I was using my father’s fly-tying kit more than he was. It was at the point where he said that he didn’t know what else to teach me that I had my luckiest break. My father sent me to have lessons with a gentleman called Bill Grey, a fantastic fly tier and the closest I have ever got to a mentor in fly tying. Bill was very well connected in the fly-tying world, he had stories for every occasion. He was the lead tier for Gordon Griffiths, a fly-tying materials distributer in Coventry. He had combined his fly-tying room with his barber shop, that was conveniently a 5 minute walk from where I lived. Most importantly, Bill was also eager to share and pass down all he had learnt. 

In hindsight, the luckiest part of this was that an American gentleman, by the name of Norm Norlander, had approached Gordon Griffiths with the view to him distributing the Norvise throughout the UK. As such Bill was trialling this vice and he was so taken with the functionality and its potential that he advised me to get one.

That was the start of my journey. I had two vices, an aa vice and a Norvise and any technique I was taught by Bill was performed on both. The methods were so different that it was difficult to go from one to the other. Despite this, I continued to use both vices at Bill’s insistence. He often said if you don’t experience the hard way of doing it you will never appreciate the ease and the other advantages that goes with it. 

As it was, I stuck with it. Slowly but surely the standard vice took a back seat and I started to get to grips with all the techniques I wanted to learn. 

The biggest lesson I learnt was an unexpected one. I had been fixated on paired winging ever since I had picked up the bobbin and Bill always said that the last thing, he would teach me was wings. The day came and we sat opposite each other at our vices, as we always did. Bill being right-handed and me being left-handed, meant that this set up was perfect. Both hooks were the same side, pointing the same way and of course while Bill was tying, my view of what was happening on the hook was unimpeded. This was not the case for those right handers that choose to look over Bills shoulder to get a view that they recognise from their own vice set up.

Instead of reaching for a pair of wings he reached for a Chinese cock hackle. Perplexed I said “I thought you were teaching me a paired wing”, “I am” he said and continued to tie a Hawthorne pattern that had hackle point wings.

Bill saw the disappointment in my face, and stated “I’m making flies to fool fish, not to impress people, when I need to get complicated, I will, but there is more than one way to represent a wing. And why go to all that trouble to create something that doesn’t get you any better results.” It’s fair to say that this came out of the blue. The man who could produce excellent paired and married wings with his eyes closed, was telling me that there was an easier way, a better way for some circumstances.  I imagined how I would have felt to learn to tie the perfect paired wing, to then decide to use a different method anyway. 

It shattered my illusions of traditional tying methods being the only methods out there worth mastering, and my own belief that easier methods were out there as a short cut for tiers that didn’t have the inclination to learn the more challenging techniques. After spending weeks considering this revelation, it started to make sense.

It wasn’t that Bill wanted to stop me learning what I so desperately wanted to master. What he wanted to do was lower the significance of this technique in my mind so that it wasn’t such a big hill to climb. Effectively making it more achievable.  For whatever reason, by the time Bill decided to talk me through the process it wasn’t the ultimate prize anymore. It was just another technique that was a way to achieve a wing. A complicated technique granted, but just a technique all the same. 

This restructured my thought process; it was the performance, design and intended use of the fly now that determined the wing it got not the pictures in the books that glorified any fly that used this complicated method. This was my first opportunity to investigate what I wanted my own style of tying to be.

It made me appreciate that there are times where the tying method just could not be replaced, the Patterns that just weren’t the same if you tried to substitute a paired wing for an easier alternative.  It also altered my own perception of where this particular technique sat in the bigger picture, for example the Butcher series, and fully dressed salmon flies. But it also took away that that rigidness that was preventing me from seeing that some flies lent themselves to other ideas, and that some flies benefit from a non-biased approach.


Fast forward over thirty years and this solid start has helped me achieve so much. I have developed techniques that I can honestly call my own, born out of necessity and an eagerness to experiment. I do not intend, however, for this to be an opportunity to be one step ahead, or to present in the style of a magician, all full of mystery.

What It is, in my opinion, is an opportunity to invest in, and contribute to, a pastime that continues to intrigue, interest and challenge me. 

I look forward to your company on the 14th December

Ice Breaker


The obstacles of learning 

A game of blind bidding 

Hit the save button 

Lead wire underbody 

Lead wire bead stopper

Spead wrapping Thead 

Speed wrapping Wire

top to toe technique

Dressed thread Herl

Dressed Thread Dubbing 

Hackles (gen saddles)



Feather post 

All in one FPP


Hackles Gen neck


Hackles Indian and chinesse 

Stacked wing 

Easties sedge wing 

Easties stacked salmon wing 

Easties blended salmon wing 

Hen Hackles

nymph leg 

Wet sedge wing 

Detached body

Wet fly detached body

Dry Fly Detached Body

Any Questions and revisited techniques ?

Time permitting 


bottom of page