Back To Fly Tying – Courtesy of Neil Keep

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It’s finally happened……I’ve gone back to the tying vice properly after many years of just dabbling with it.

I tied my first fly some forty years ago when fishing trips were hard to come by for one reason or another and fly tying was the next best thing. At that time I remember being in love with deer hair and spent many hours trying to perfect muddlers, I found the material fascinating and spent many an hour trying to hone the technique.

My father, who taught me to fly fish, passed away a few years ago and recently I came across an old tin fly box full of flies which I had tied for him many years ago as a birthday present, I now realise how much I had struggled to perfect the aforementioned muddler, even though at that time I thought they looked awesome!

The other eye opener these days is the array of materials on offer…..synthetic quills would have been only a luxury material I could have dreamt about back then. I used to be amazed by the fluorescent colour of the chenille as a youngster as I tied yet another gaudy Wimbleball Wonder.

Now that I’m working alongside Partridge Hooks it seemed inevitable that I went back to tying. With their impressive range of hooks at my disposal coupled with my fly orders that I farm out for the guiding side of the business not always being quite right and how I would like them. Time restraints had always stopped me tying the quantities of flies needed for a season and I’m still not sure I will be able to find enough of this precious commodity but I’m determined to give it a go this winter……time will tell.

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A few things have come to light during my first hours back at the vice, mainly that the standard of fly tying out there is generally very high now and I’ve discovered that my patterns at present are a bit “crude and scruffy” in comparison. My other finding is that my eyes aren’t what they used to be and don’t work quite as well as they did some forty years ago but the most important of all is that I’m really enjoying going back to the tying vice and knocking up some different patterns of an evening and want to get back on it at every available opportunity.

Neil Keep has 40 years fly fishing experience on a variety of waters across the south west of England, including spate rivers, chalk streams, small lakes and large reservoirs. Contact Neil on 01761 472656 or 07821647055 for fly fishing tuition or guiding services.

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