Fly Tyers

- at the fly tyers island and at the exhibitors

Neil Darling

I was born in Northern Ireland and I now live and work in England, close to Manchester, where I teach Physical Education to secondary school students. 

I originally started fishing spinning for Perch and Pike with my dad and grandad, mainly on Lough Erne, Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. Grandad gave me a spinning rod and a tackle box, full of Mepp spinners, as a birthday present, one of the best childhood presents I ever had. I still have the rod and reel too. There was also a small book on fly tying within the tackle box which absolutely captivated me. Using the instructions in the book, I taught myself how to attach thread and whip finish by hand. I didn’t have any of the fancy tying tools that I have today either! My first fly was tied using a worm hook, the vice was a wooden clothes peg and the feathers were “borrowed” from one of mum’s cushions. That was the fly tying and fly fishing addiction well and truly started for me. 

Today I fly fish for Trout, Grayling and Salmon to coastal Sea Trout, Sea Bass, and Pollock. I prefer to fish and explore rivers but I also enjoy fishing for wild Trout in large expanses of water like Lough Corrib in Ireland. I also holiday in Scotland a lot, and therefore fish the big Scottish Rivers like The Tay as much as I can. My tying style is quite eclectic due to the number of species I like to fly fish for, but I probably focus on nymph patterns the most. I really enjoy experimenting with different materials and tying approaches to try and explore all possibilities with different patterns. The constant learning of the pastime captivates me completely. 

Recently I have been pushing myself out of my fly fishing comfort zone by trying to tie, and fish, more dry fly patterns. This focus is generally reserved only for the Irish Mayfly hatches. I really enjoy fishing the “Klink and Dink” method, set up in a New Zealand style. It’s such an effective method for the fussy river trout. There’s something quite intoxicating about watching the dry fly float and bob down a run, with the expectation that it’ll disappear at any moment!

I recently started to share photos of my flies and fishing on Instagram and have been amazed by the support and friendliness of the fly fishing community on the platform. This has enhanced my learning and helped to further develop my tying skills too. I really enjoy engaging with like-minded people, discussing topics and offering advice on tying and fishing when I can. A love of photography, particularly macrophotography, has developed from using Instagram, along with the amazing Pro staff opportunities offered to me by Ahrex Hooks, (I recently tied on their You Tube channel), Veniard Ltd., Vicuna dubbing and Vision Fly Fishing UK.