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Clyde-Style Flies and their dressings by John Reid

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Reviewed by Terry Lawton

This is only a small, slim volume (96 pages) yet first editions are fetching over £100 for a good, clean copy. So it is not surprising that Coch-Y-Bonddu Books has made it available again, at a much more realistic £14.95. The book claims to have save for posterity the patterns of a century - around 100 years from the end of the 18th century.

Clyde-style flies are not as well known as English North country spiders or flies tied by the American Catskills' fly tiers in the USA. There are common features between these three schools of fly dressing. I was slightly depressed to read that "a long, plodding apprenticeship is required" to reach the exacting standard required to tie these often very delicate little flies. The dry flies are notable for their very slender wings, set at the correct angle, and fine bodies. They are dressed to match the real insect as closely as possible.

John Reid writes: " The fly fisher who has been accustomed to buying standard commercial dressings of trout flies gets quite a shock when he looks at a tray of Clyde-style specimens for the first time. There is an overall impression of drabness and lack of bright colour; the thought that no trout could ever see the diminutive hook and flimsy dressing; then, finally, an appreciation of the remarkable symmetry and likeness to the natural insect which these flies represent." And then: "Such are the characteristics that make the Clyde-style fly of today and set it up as an outstanding example of scientific approach to the design of artificial flies.".

Most flies require very few materials, typically tail, body and hackle and a wing for some of the dries. Wet flies sometimes have a wire rib. Mole is a popular dubbing and wings are made from an interesting range of feathers including starling, blackbird, snipe, woodcock, fieldfare, waterhen, blue jay, water rail and guinea fowl. I am not too sure if fieldfare and water rail are available commercially!

The majority of the book covers the dressings, and brief tying instructions, for Clyde-style flies including wet flies, dry flies (both winged and hackled), nymphs and spent spinners, in total some 150 patterns. Nymphs are tied un-weighted and the author recommends the use of split shot to achieve the necessary speed of sink of a cast of perhaps three nymphs. It is also necessary to add when when fishing a single nymph of wet fly. We are told that experts may use "four or more Clyde-style flies on a cast".

The rest of the book covers Clyde-style flies today, how to use and fish Clyde-style flies, wading, loch fishing with Clyde-style flies including a monthly guide to Clyde-style wet flies and fishing Clyde-style dry flies and nymphs.

This is an interesting and valuable book for anyone who wants to find out more about a relatively little-known style of fly dressing. Clyde-Style Flies and their dressings by John Reid.

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