Introduction by Anthony Naples
Even though I know that brown trout have been in Australia since the 1860s and Rainbow trout since the 1890s and even though I’ve had a guest post about trout fishing in Australia previously (see The Trout from Down Under by Guy Curtis) I still have a hard time reconciling the images of desert and ocean (and saltwater crocs) that I associate with Australia with the idea of trout fishing. So when I received another order from an Australian tenkara angler I thought it would be cool to have another guest post from down under. So I hope you enjoy this guest post by Nick Pavlovski.
The Wee Creek Hopper and Me by Nick Pavlovski
Earlier this year I started tying my own flies. I figured it couldn’t be too hard…after all, when I used to smoke I was taught to ‘roll my own’ (filterless too, no less) and I had the technique down pat in just a couple of days. I knew fly tying would be different, and more elaborate – even so, when I finally sat down in front of a loaned vice and set up a loaned bobbin, I then seemed to really struggle.
The first fly I was shown was a Pheasant Tail Nymph. My extremely patient tutor, Liam F, led me through tying two of them, and then I called it quits for the night…I felt it was enough to begin with, as each had somehow taken me a full hour. He had tied a dozen and then made four more of another pattern in under the same time, but stayed upbeat and unfazed at my short memory and snail-like work speed. Three weeks later, he took me down a different track. “We’re going to make grasshoppers. A really simple pattern”, he announced. He demonstrated it twice, then stepped me through it. By the end of the night, I’d done three unaided.
It seemed to have as many ingredients as a Pheasant Tail Nymph and as many steps, but as I had a clear memory of what grasshoppers look like (as opposed to just looking at a smartphone-sized picture of a nymph) it seemed much easier – and more fun. “Do an internet search for ‘Murray Wilson Wee Creek Hopper’ – there’s a great video of it online, shows you everything”, Liam said as we packed up and went our separate ways.
The next night, once no-one else was stirring in my house (no, not even a mouse), I began hunting around the Internet to find the video. It didn’t take long, and I learned that Murray was more popularly known as ‘Muz’ Wilson, and had passed away just a couple of years ago. An occupant of the south west of my home state, he had a reputation of being an accomplished fly fisherman and was responsible for creating very successful fly patterns of his own, and being innovative with the ingredients used. I found the YouTube video that Liam recommended and watched it (https://youtu.be/9Pjh9AFzo70 , Murray Wilson’s Wee Creek Hopper). I immediately watched it a second time. Murray takes you through tying one, start to finish, in three minutes, in what looks like a single take. Everything is clearly demonstrated and explained and the process is simple and logical. I could already feel it concreting itself into my memory.
A couple of nights later, when I could do some tying at home undisturbed, I set my workspace up and began making some using size 10 hooks. Three got made in an hour. Then another two in thirty minutes, after a glass of water and a wander around the loungeroom. When my tutor and I met again at the next club fly tying night, I sat and did nothing but tie Wee Creek Hoppers – no need to rewatch the video, I had the steps memorised now – and my tutor was pleased.
Then a month ago, we had a small-stream flyfishing specialist, David Anderson, speak at the club. Chatting with him one on one, he stated that he loves foam bodied flies for their ability to float without any artificial substance being applied to them – and mentioned the Wee Creek Hopper by name. It’s an essential fly in his flybox. This confirmed to me that the fly should be perfect for tenkara.
So, now I have a dozen size 10’s made, six in green and six in light brown, ready to go. Next is to make up ten size 14’s, five in yellow and five in orange, both with orange and black barred rubber legs. And in two more months, I’ll start trotting them out on the creeks and rivers – and expect to see them very well received.
Nick Pavlovski started tenkara fishing in February 2017.
He uploads videos of some of his trips over at his YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2fgn2TYlHco9VtWlof8LnA