"The Sweet William"
A Dry Fly for the next 100 years

Sweet William

This fly is a superb performer on the river Nidd. It should be cast as all dry flies should be, up and across, at some angle to the river flow. This ensures that the first thing the fish sees is the fly and not the leader! 

I first tied it in 1979,  as a development of the John Storey, that famous North Yorkshire Fly. I named it "Sweet" to represent the honey hackle, and "William", after my late father, John William Greenwood, who would have loved to have fished it. It soon out-fished the John Storey, although on the occasional day, the John Storey may still overrule.

Early in it´s life, on the River Nidd I caught over 500 brown trout in one season and on one never to be forgotten June day caught over 100 trout on the size 12 "Mayfly" version, when mayflies were hatching in thousands.

For those interested in tying it, this is my method:-

Hook: Size 14, Mustad 94840 (or equivalent lightweight D.E.) Size 12 for the "Mayfly" version.

Thread: Bright red or orange.

Tail: A golden pheasant crest feather above about 3/16” long of red floss (2-3 Strands).

Body: 1 or 2 strands of peacock herl (depending on its quality). On the Mayfly version I leave a loop of thread at the tail and twist it together with the herl, before winding it on after fitting the wing. this makes a more durable, but not so nice looking fly!

Wing: The tip of a mallard breast feather, stripped of its side feathers, spread out and tied in the form of a forward facing fan, before winding on the peacock herl body, from the tail end, over the wing feather’s tied down stem.

Hackle: Honey through to red game cock (I tie some of each for the mood of the day) with plenty of turns. On the mayfly version I put 2 or 3 different coloured hackles, including a badger or grizzle, with a honey and/or dark game. On all flies I now put 2 turns of the lightest colour Hackle in front of the wing.

Method tips:

  • Start by tying a "blob" of tying thread just behind the eye of the hook, in a position where the head will finish and the wing will fit tied in behind it. The purpose of this "blob" is to “fan” the mallard breast feather round it, as it is tied in.

  • After tying the fly and forming the head be liberal with the varnish on top and let it touch the wing bottom, then ensure the “fan” is correct and leaning forward before it sets.

  • On completion cut the lower hackle feathers into  the form of an inverted "v", to the depth of a horizontal line from the point of the hook parallel to the shank. The fly then sits well on the water.

  • Proportion the length of the tail, wing, hackle and body to each be about the same length as the distance from the eye to the point of the hook. I soak my flies in silicone and dry them as I make them.

  • On the "mayfly" version I use the proportions of a  size 10  hook on a size 12 tying, this makes it float longer as the hook is lighter.

Presented for Nidderdale Angling Club Centenary 1998.

"Tight lines" Norman Greenwood committee member.

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