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The Offly

Pete Tyjas Pete Tyjas on 30th September 2018

Fly Culture contributor Nick Thomas designs and develops a wide range of flies that suit a variety of fishing situations. His material of choice is organza and this is his version of the much loved F-fly

The Organza F-Fly is one of my staple flies once it’s warm enough to go fishing comfortably in shirtsleeves. It’s a totally synthetic version of a classic CDC fly. CDC seems to be a ‘Marmite material’; people either love it or hate it. I used to use it a lot for emergers and of course for F-Flies. However, let’s be honest; flies made with don’t tend to last very long, sometimes they float very well and sometimes they don’t, the good stuff is expensive, and the cheaper stuff can be pretty dire. In the end I decided life was too short to be trying to keep a soggy mass of duck’s bum afloat and moved on.

The Offly is very simple to tie and very robust; treat it right and one will float happily downstream all day long and last through a good day’s fishing. The poly-yarn wing gives the fly good visibility on the water while the organza strands give a nice touch of shimmering colour and hint at wing veins. 

Hook Fasna F-800 size 12-16

Thread Semperfli nanosilk black

Body Organza ribbon

Wing Semperfli cream poly-yarn and organza fibres

  1. Run on the tying thread at the eye and take part way round the bend in touching turns
  2. Cut the woven edges from two different coloured pieces of organza ribbon, melt the ends in a flame and catch them in with the cut edges towards the eye. Bind down along the shank to about 2mm from the eye and trim off the waste. 
  3. Wind the two colours forward in parallel touching turns with the cut edges forward to create a segmented body, tie in and trim off the waste.
  4. Tie in one or two strands of poly-yarn at their midpoint immediately behind the eye. Make a few tight wraps of thread over the yarn moving back, fold back the yarn and secure with a couple of tight turns forming the wing and a small head immediately behind the eye.
  5. Take the thread forward to the front of the head. Strip out some long fibres from the remaining lengths of organza ribbon, mix and tie in at their midpoint. Take the thread back to the base of the wing, fold the organza fibres back and tie in.
  6. Lift the wing and make some thread wraps tight in against the wing root to lift the wing.
  7. Whip finish in front of the wing and cut the thread.
  8. Pull the wing taught and trim with an angled cut level with the hook bend.
  9. Darken the head with a black marker pen and varnish.

Organza comes in a wide range of colours, so it’s worthwhile experimenting with different colour combinations wrapped together to form the body and using different colours in the wing. You can of course make things even simpler for yourself and just use a single colour of organza for the body. If in doubt, just use black. 

This summer the Offly caught me my best ever trout from the Taff. There being nothing rising when I started fishing, I’d tackled up with a small nymph under a dry fly and had taken a couple of fish on the nymph from a deep run on the far bank. As I moved upstream a little way I saw a couple of fish rising out of the corner of my eye. They were small splashy rises in the slacker water along the edge of the seam, meaning they were probably small grayling, but where there are small fish, there may be larger fish. I snipped the tippet at my indicator fly, wrapped it and the nymph onto a foam winder and tied on an Offly. 

The first cast into the slow water on the edge of the current was quickly snaffled by, yes, a very small grayling which didn’t trouble the net. The second cast hooked, albeit temporarily, an even smaller fish which spun itself off the hook. Concluding by now that perhaps I’d been a tad optimistic regarding the presence of small grayling signalling the presence of their larger brethren, I turned my attention back to the run on the far bank.

Having moved upstream a way I was now opposite a stretch of water overhung by tree branches with their tips waving just above the current. There was a gap between two of the trees and below the gap, in deep shade, was a narrow bubble lane and a back eddy tight in against a large rock sticking out of the bank. The tree branches blocked any possibility of a direct cast, but I reckoned that if I could side cast the fly into the gap between the trees there was a decent chance that the fly would drift down under the branches without dragging. I was a bit tentative on the first cast, it went between the tree branches OK, but landed short on a tight line and was quickly dragged off course. I pulled another yard of line off the reel, made a couple of short false casts to dry the fly and then shot the extra line on the third cast. The fly sailed through the gap in the trees and landed with slack to spare in the furled leader. It travelled merrily downstream, skipped over the ripple above a small boulder and disappeared completely. 

Thinking the fly had been washed under I raised the rod to lift it back to the surface. It didn’t want to come back up, principally because it was attached to something that was most determined to go the other way; downstream and at considerable speed. I was fishing with my favourite rod, an 8.5-foot 3wt Cross S1 and expecting only moderately sized fish, I’d omitted to set the drag on the reel. The reel screamed, or rather it didn’t, since Loop don’t put a clicker on their smaller sizes of Opti reels. It just hissed rather angrily as a quite considerable amount of fly line was pulled off the rapidly spinning spool. A bit of rod juggling now ensued as I swapped hands and tried to keep tension on the line with my fingers while adjusting the drag. The fish stayed on but now decided it preferred the sanctuary of its home by the rock and tree roots on the opposite bank. Some serious side strain with both hands on the rod diverted the dash from disaster and I got the fish back out into the current. Now I just had to get the fish out of the strong current and into the slacker water and in reach of the net. That took a while, including some long kiting runs across the current seam and back, plus an attempted run between my legs, which had the rod hooped over to a point where I thought it was going to pop. Eventually I got the net under the fish and more by good luck than judgement folded considerably more than 18 inches of trout through the 18-inch net rim.

As the summer progresses the banks on this part of the river become heavily overgrown and passage through to the river becomes an increasingly difficult process, which makes it a very quiet and secluded spot.  A week or so after I caught the big trout I returned and as I approached through the undergrowth I heard a loud splash from the river. My first thought was a dog, but dog walkers who want to throw a ball or stick in the river tend to steer clear of this bit in the summer. Maybe it was a big salmon? I cleared my way through the last of the jungle and emerged onto the pebble bar at the edge of the river. The splashing was being made by a middle-aged lady. She was swimming. Naked. She hadn’t heard me approach, so I scuffed my wader studs on the pebbles and coughed. She turned, “Good morning, what a beautiful day for a swim. You carry on.” I carried on, but I did walk a little bit upstream before wading in. She hadn’t disturbed the fish. I took a nice trout before moving further upstream.

I know that this fly has worked very well for other anglers as well as myself. Watch the video below, tie some up and try them. You won’t regret it. They are offly good.

The OFFLY

Nick Thomas lives in South Wales. He started fly fishing on Scottish hill lochs many years ago and continues to design, tie and fish flies for trout, grayling, carp, bass and anything else that’s going.

 

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