Oliver Edwards Hatches Interview
by Samuel Fava
No one person inspired my tying style. Nature became my inspiration, I have always strived to get close to the natural without going into the realm of “close copy”. I believe my tying style (particularly for nymphs and other subsurface forms) is called super-impressionistic. I do though have two favorite fly tiers – they both “flow” and have the ability to infuse any fly they tie with that “eat me” appeal. They are – Dave Whitlock, USA and Veli Autti – Finland.
2) Who has been your biggest influence in fly tying?
I am entirely self-taught, nature is my (and has always been) influence. It helps if you become an amateur entomologist. I’ve always been interested in aquatic insects.
3) Are there any planned projects for the future (DVDs and or books)?
Yes, I’ve just finished filming for the next series of DVD’s. There will be three, and we hope to have them ready for the Christmas sale time. Another book? Well I have played about now for many years and have about nine or ten subjects completed. However I keep “leaking” one or two to your “Fly Tyer” magazine. I may eventually get down to it and complete it – but the drawings are a pain in the ass!
4) One of my favorite flies of yours is the Mohican Mayfly, how did you come up with such a unique way to tie such a fly?
The Mohican Mayfly gradually “evolved”. I knew I wanted a long slender abdomen, and I knew that foam would be a perfect material, but the folded piece around a needle was a base inspiration. Same with the Mohican wing – originally it had a coned wing, then I realized that I could “blade” the wing by taking the foam body tags up each side of the wing at its base. It was several years in its development.
5) What is the one tying material that has influenced your tying over the last 5 years and made your tying both easier and successful in what you were trying to imitate?
Not five years, more like twenty years – “Flexibody”. The Dutch product basically 0.008” thick translucent coloured vinyl sheeting. This material was a “quantum leap” in my nymph designs and effectiveness. Waspi’s “Thin Skin” is okay but not thick enough. Also the original Flexibody had many correct colours and shades (olives, tans, etc.).
6) How would you rate the Czech nymph method of deepwater nymphing and what has been your most productive nymph pattern for this style of fishing. Also would it work on brown trout as well as grayling?
Some people may be misunderstanding the Czech Nymphing style – it is not essentially a deep water technique (depends on what you call deep water of course). It can and is used in quite shallow water, very effectively, provided there is a good rapid flow with lots of features – rocks, boulders, old logs, weedbeds, etc. Ideally I like a depth of mid calf to upper thigh riffles, pocket water, pool necks, and tail outs. It is not effective in slow water for obvious reasons like your nymph bottoms out and gets hung up!
I do not have a most productive Czech nymph, I have a box with maybe 150 Czech nymphs in many shades, mostly “natural” colours work well. However we have found that some “un-natural” colours work well particularly in coloured water – pink is one such colour – its all a question of visibility if the river is like “soup”.
Yes they are equally effective for trout (brown or ‘bows) as they are for grayling.
7) Where is your favorite place to fish, why and with what flies?
Favourite place? This is not all that easy. I love me “home waters” in the Yorkshire Dales – primarily the rivers Wharfe and Ure – both freestones. I also think the Madison and Snake in the U.S. are fantastic. For the past three years I’ve been invited to fish the Laxa in the North of Iceland. This is without doubt the best Brown trout I’ve ever experienced with many fish over 3 lbs. and going all the way to 7,8, even 10 pounds – but usually 2 to 6lbs. – on a dry fly – it is quite incredible. They are all stream bred and rip line off the reel like a bonefish. The scenery is also quite incredible and empty except for the birds and a few sheep. Iceland has probably the best fly-fishing on the planet… or at least one of the best anyway!!!
With what flies? Well that question can only be answered with copies of whatever they’re rising for or feeding on subsurface. I don’t have a favourite fly, or favourite flies. It all depends on what hatching and falling.
8) What is your opinion on the "realistic" side of fly tying?
They look great in frames, and good to watch a real exponent constructing them. However it all depends on what you call realistic – there are various grades. I tie a stonefly nymph which looks superficially like a real stone nymph! Bill Logan ties a stone nymph, which looks “exactly” like a stone nymph, complete with mouthparts. I’ll do mine at a show and probably will take 45 minutes. Bill Logan’s will take probably 200 hours. Mine are super impressionistic, Bill’s are exact replicas. Its all a question of degrees, but no one I know of can beat Bill Logan’s when it comes to exact copy, and there price reflects it. Exact copies do not in my opinion, play any part in practical “streamside” fishing.
9) How do you think tying will evolve in the next 5 years?
Haven’t thought about it maybe it will go more towards the realism, and shows are an influence of course. “New” materials will come out of course, these will spawn “new techniques” and “new” patterns. I’m quite happy with what I do.
10) If you had only 6 flies to use what would they be?
This is a tough one… just six flies??? Okay here we go. (in no particular order)
1) Black klinkhammer
2) Water Bloa #14
3) Baetis Nymph #16 (from Masterclass)
4) Olive Paradun #16 & #18
5) Grey Shrimp #12 (from Masterclass)
6) Waggy Tail Sculpin 2 ˝”- 3” long (soon to be seen on the latest DVD)
I would also like to add 3 reserves please!
1) Heptagenid Nymph #14 (from Masterclass)
2) Stewarts Black Spider #18
3) Black Wooly Bugger #4 long shank
11) What are some of the most common mistakes made by tiers?
Here is my list:
· Getting proportions wrong
· Huge heads/ tying off/ and head crowding
· Having little idea what the natural looks like
· Using to thick tying thread
· Using to many thread wraps for each stage
· Tying loose (afraid of breaking thread) You should always tie at the maximum thread strain
· Tying dry flies which have little chance of sitting correctly
12) With all the different techniques for tying a fly what are the 3(or 4) "constants" that a tier should always strive for?
· Understanding what the natural you’re copying looks like, and how it behaves.
· Be aware of proportions
· Tie very tightly
· Watch those wraps – don’t whack on six when three will be adequate
· Practice small neat heads with correct whip finish
Basically the same as the last question.
13) Has your "journey" been rewarding? How so?
Yes the “journey” has been fantastic, even more so since I was “downsized”. 15 years ago when I turned fully pro’ (not a pro’ tyer you understand, I mean pro’ in the sence of being professionally involved in all aspects of fly fishing- except pro’ tying) So, courses, classes, shows, demos, guiding, articles, writing and of course lots of great travel, meeting some of the best people on the planet!
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