I started fly fishing when I was 20 years old just after I got married to give me a hobby as I had fished when I was a very young boy in the lochs and rivers of Ayrshire, in the south west of Scotland where I grew up. The best known rivers in the area are the Stinchar, the Nith, Girvan and the river Doon where I was a ghillie. My fly tying started at much the same time as my fly -fishing did, as when I was learning to cast I lost many a fly up a tree and broke the hook of the fly on stones on my back cast. Now 22 years on I have did lots in this time through my fly fishing and fly tying career.
A couple of years into my fly tying I started entering competitions and with some success I qualified to get into the masters of the Benson and Hedges, never winning the competition outright but winning a few rounds throughout I was extremely pleased with this. I felt entering competitions encouraged me to tye my flies in proportion and learned how to use materials to their best effect. From there I did win a few competitions outright and got a reputation as a reasonable tyer.
As my name became more known I was asked to contribute flies to a book called Trout and Salmon flies of Scotland with over 30 of my flies being used, this caused a bit of interest in me and the most popular magazine in the U.K got in touch and asked if I could write some articles for their magazine, of which 40 were published one after the other. This then led on to demonstrations and talks throughout the U.K., Ireland and U.S.A. My interest in tying Speys and Dee patterns came from the old fishers I met on the riverbank telling me their stories and patterns for the rivers they fished, patterns like Brown Turkey and grey Turkey were always mentioned as old favourites and with them not being used now in favour of the modern styles and materials used, encouraged me to find out more about colours and styles being tyed. One of the main things was the natural colours of the wings being used and body colours as these were the important parts. A favourite winging technique known for the area was called four-in-hand or better known as double-winged, the reason this method was adopted here was ”