The ties that bind, cast and catch

WITH names like Bushy’s horror, Klinkhammer, Rusty Spinner and Geehi beetle, you might guess at what game you were playing, but you would be far from the truth.

You’ll find these unusual items are in the fly fishers nomenclature. They are the result of a fly tyer’s ‘slip one, knit one’ where you have to think like a fish, and produce an insect that acts like a weightless bug; the perfect combination to ensure success at casting for a fish of your choice.

The life of a fly tyer is not for the feint of heart. In fact, it’s more like a ride on the wild side with a bit of a mad gamble thrown in.

Get the flies right and you catch a prize, wrong and you have nothing but a great walk in shallow water, aka the contemplative man’s recreation.

Mind you, either result seems to suit a fly fisher.

So take your Geehi beetle, (named after the beautiful river in Kosciuszko National Park), for example.

A delicate blend of pheasant tippets, fine quality copper or gold wire, or sometimes waxed cotton, and/or a small piece of peacock feather, it is perfect for casting to rising trout in the Snowy Mountains and north-east Victoria.

It is fly tyer extraordinaire, Wayne Ettwell’s favourite bug, both to make and to use when trout fishing.

“Tying flies is all part of the sport for me.

"I love trying a new one with different materials and testing what works best at what time of day.

"I love trout, and don’t fish for anything else.”

Flies can be made either to float or sink, and range in size from a few millimetres to 30 cm long; most are between 1 and 5 cm.

Look in to a fly tyer’s box of goodies and you will find amazing pieces of handcraft materials, like hair, fur, feathers, foam, deer hide and cotton.

The first flies were tied with natural materials, but synthetic materials are used today too.

Flies are tied in sizes, colours and patterns to match local insects, beetles and bugs, or other prey attractive to the type of fish you are aiming to catch.

For Wayne Ettwell, his love of fly fishing started when he was in the 4th Preston Scout Group and they went to camp at Gembrook one Easter.

“The Lilydale Fly Fishers came to teach us the finer details of how to tie flies, the gear you need and how to cast for a trout," Wayne says.

I soon worked out that most of the necessary was way out of my reach, but nevertheless I was hooked.

“My dad would escape to the bush at every opportunity, and I would be with him.

“Father’s Day was trout opening season and we would be off the night before, so we could be first ‘up and at ‘em'.

“My interest in all types of fishing continued, but those flies and the intrigue of the very personal challenge this creature in the wild posed, kept calling me.

“Then one Christmas morning, my son and wife were dancing up and down to get me to open my present. All wrapped up in brown paper was a lot of fly fishing gear, plus classes with one of my top fly fishing idols.

 “One of the first lessons is that delicate is best. No lead balloons going plonk in the water here. As delicate as an insect is the go.”

“I remember my first trout I caught. We were in the King Parrot Creek, part of the Goulburn River system, and I caught a 10 inch trout on my first fly.

"I got very excited and it was a worthy recipient of my first kiss, too.

“My bucket list includes catching a trout in double figures, on a catch and release system of course.

“Also in that bucket list is a trip to Darwin to fly fish the barramundi.

"Now that’s a huge handful of a fly I would have to make for those big fish,” Wayne says.


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