The right feathers

From experience I’ve learnt to not tie certain flies because there are better flies to spend my time on. From the early days of being like a kid in a sweet shop and buying flies because they looked ace!  To being told certain flies where “working well” on the stocked reservoirs, to clearly see that they had a lot of those types and nothing on the water looked anything like the ones I had just bought.

I feel a lot of my early days where more luck than anything with a fly. I felt confident with a particular fly and that stayed on my line regardless. Occasionally changing it because my mate had just caught with an Orange Booby!

The first rule for me is to understand why the fly you use has been made. What it represents and how they act in or on the water.

Why tie certain tenkara flies and with different colours? When I have filmed a fish taking a fly I’m sure it’s because the fly has simply gone near the fish, especially in faster flowing water.

If it’s been on slower water or still water they may take a second look. If you know why you are fishing that fly and you can make it move like the creature it is imitating then this mostly induces a take. Otherwise it’s back to the drawing board, find out what the damn thing is eating and try a different pattern or “walk away!”

Most tenkara patterns – The Sakasa Kebari style – move a lot like chironomidae. Like all flies, the Chironomidae undergo metamorphosis in their life cycle. Their first instar they are often planktonic floating in the water feeding on microscopic particles. After their first molt the larvae of most species remain benthic at the bottom of the river for the rest of its larval stage. They then transform into a pupa staying in their cocoon or shelter while it transforms into an adult. When it’s time the pupa swims to the surface. This is when it looks and behaves most like a tenkara fly.

A sweep through the water with your fine netted landing net can tell you what species is currently about and will helps you choose the colour of fly.

If I see plenty of caddis larvae I’ll put on a dubbed bodied tenkara fly (like a Gujo Kebari or a Killer bug Kebari) let it drift to the bottom and keep raising the rod tip to put it up off the water bed. It’s surprising just how many trout go out of their way to get to the fly.

Getting the bodies of the flies to look right is the easy part the hardest is getting the feathers to move right. I’ve tried so many different types of feather! I’ve thrown out more than I care to financially remember.

A few months ago I came across a guy on Ebay selling feathers and at a great price, so I bought some and crossed my fingers until they arrived. Sure enough they were spot on for tenkara patterns. I now look to see what he has all the time. A good honest type who knows his stuff!

I asked him to write a few words for this page and he did…

I keep a number of breeds for feathers, a badger cape and saddle, grizzle capes and saddles. I have been working on a blue strain which is not breeding as true as I would like, but would be up to genetic standard. That also gives me black and splash. Some of the side birds have had grizzle in them and badger. I am breeding them with some of my other birds, hoping that I can improve the standard of my hackles. I only intend to keep small numbers of birds, aiming at about 250 birds a year. I still have a few of last year’s birds left in all the hackles, but about 80% of my stock is gone.
Coming from a fly tying background, I wanted to produce a good budget cape. I regard them as very good value for money”

They aren’t “very good value for money” they are the best I’ve seen and at double the money they would still be a bargain!

If like me you tie your own flies and just want some great feathers at an amazing price then check out his facebook page –

or his Ebay site here –

I’ve had a link to his facebook page since I’ve had a link page – If you think of anyone who should have a link on there – let me know and I’ll check them out.