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The North Country Fly - Yorkshire's Soft Hackle Tradition

Back in 2010, after seeing a few of my pictures knocking about on the internet, I was approached by Yorkshireman, and all-round North Country geek, Rob Smith. He informed me that my images were a little - not much, but a little - better than he could manage, and asked if I would like to take care of the photography for his forthcoming treatise 'The North Country Fly - Yorkshire's Soft Hackle Tradition'. Rob was careful to point out that remuneration would be 'in kind', and 'frugal' (another old Yorkshire tradition) and that I wouldn't be retiring any time soon on the proceeds.I considered the offer carefully, for all of two seconds; in the end, flattery, however it comes, gets you everywhere. Joking apart, Rob was more than generous with his rewards, but I would have done it for nowt - who wouldn't have jumped at the chance to photograph these delicate, beautiful pieces of angling history, tied by a master? Lack of modesty is one Yorkshire tradition that Rob has opted out of, and he'd no doubt reject the tag 'master'. Let me tell you though, that even under the scrutiny of a macro lens, Rob's flies are immaculate. Funny things, spiders and wot-not; deceptively and painfully simple - there's nowhere to hide any shortcomings in one's technique. Every aspect of the fly is literally laid bare, and the most basic tying skills of thread laying, control, tension, hackling and proprtion have to be damn near perfect to pull off a spider worth its salt. Just photographing Rob's flies taught me much, not just about North Country patterns, but about tying in general.


Unfortunately, there were various constraints on the book which meant that many of the flies that I photographed didn't make it into print. So, rather than have them sit on a hard-drive for eternity, here is the complete collection...


All images copyright Rob Denson unless otherwise stated.

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