Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

And Now For Something Completely Different

I tie flies. Not particularly well I admit, but well enough to catch fish nevertheless.

 I have tied pretty well from when I started fly-fishing. I think I thought it was going to save me money! That’s a laugh. I probably have enough hooks and materials to last me a several lifetimes the only problem is they are never the right hooks or materials I need for a particular fly. I have just put in an order for another hundred quids worth because I want to tie up some flies for next years adventure into the world of salt and, of course, most of the stuff I already have just doesn’t fit the bill.

 I have tied for the annual Sexyloops fly swap every year since it started and this years swap was the best yet. I send forty scruffy looking things and get forty fabulous looking flies back. Result. My only problem, no, one of the problems, is that I can’t bring myself to actually fish with them. For some reason I treasure the damn things and hoard them away somewhere safe just to bring them out occasionally and drool over them. The other problem is guilt. Guilt that I have sent some pretty mediocre flies in and received works of art back. It doesn’t seem to worry Paul Arden though, he just tag’s the word ‘variant’ onto whatever he ties and no-one can say if it is supposed to be what he say’s it is or not. Pretty damn clever if you ask me. I have just started tying for next years swap, and I’m feeling a tinge of guilt already.

 About four years ago I entered the Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Magazine annual tying competition for the first time. What an eye opener that was. Part of the requirement is that you send in three identical flies. I have a problem tying one identical fly let alone three. You end up tying about twenty flies (not including the trial ones) and then sorting through them to find some that look pretty similar, then you photograph them and get them up on the computer and then compare them again…and again… and again. Make your choice, pack them carefully, post them off. Three sets in three months. Magnus Angus put’s a jaundiced eye over them and declare’s you equal 110th. I have the certificate to prove it.

 I did improve after that though, one year I headed the leader board, then fell away dramatically after I mistook size 10 as 1/0, Magnus certainly didn’t need a magnifying lens for that one!

 I would tie a lot more than I normally do but during the summer the little corner I tie in becomes so cluttered with rods and reels that it’s just too much effort to clear it every time I feel the need to tie but come the first gale I set too and tidy all the clutter away and I have my nice little tying area back again.

The first couple are my tying bench and the start of this years ‘loops swap and the others are just a small selection fron this years swap.


November 16, 2009 - Posted by | Fly tying


  1. Hi Mike, the one good thing about flies for the Salt is that you do not have to be too fussy! I have found that as long as size of finished fly + colour is similar to what there is swimming in the water you will catch, often being a little different makes your fly stand out from the crown makes all the difference to your catch rate! I personnally gave up including glue when tying as after a few hits I was left with just that – the glue and very little else on the hook, sea critters nearly all have teeth and can strip a fly in very quick time. As for the material??? yes its contagious, every tier publishing his/her version of a fly always seams to suggest another difficult to buy material?? and yes I have boxes of the stuff, which will outlast me!!

    I do like your work station, never got round to being that professional? would like to see some of your work some time.

    Regards – Alan

    Comment by Alan Sandom | November 18, 2009 | Reply

  2. how can you stand tying flies in such an organized environment ?
    it’s DISGUSTING !!! 😉

    uhm…yup, i’d love to see some flies too, Mike. 🙂


    Comment by marc fauvet | November 20, 2009 | Reply

  3. Don’t worry Marc, it’s only that tidy for about an hour a year, it’s mostly a dumping ground for rods, reels and stuff I buy and forget I bought.

    Alan, can you recommend a book on SW flies?

    Comment by Mike Heritage | November 20, 2009 | Reply

  4. Give me a call I have several you can take a look at /borrow before making a purchase.

    Regards – Alan

    Comment by Alan Sandom | November 25, 2009 | Reply

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