On Sunday I met up with Norman Smith and showed him some of the rudiments of fly tying. Norman was introduced to fishing at the age of three and there is not much he doesn´t know about it, but fishing with a fly rod is a relatively new interest, and fly tying is newer still.

He brought with him a tin with assorted fly tying bits and bobs which he had passed on to him following the death of a friend, Ted Merrikin. One of the most interesting things the box contained was a nifty hand vice which Ted used while he was travelling by train. I can only his fellow commuters, in a carriage rattling its way through the suburbs, looking on in bemusement at the feather creations he was tying up in front of them and that he might later use to fish the Test and other premium chalk streams.

Norman, as ever, was full of stories. He told me of a stretch of the Guadalhorce we have fished together where, a few years back, he caught a good number of big carp. Of course, size is relative. He caught several that were upwards of nine pounds but they all fell short of the elusive ten pound mark, often by a matter of an ounce or two.

On the Guadlahorce there is nothing wrong with a nine pound carp. I have never taken one anywhere near that size but Norman was nevertheless just a little frustrated. And he was also taunted by a real whopper of some fifteen pounds or so that often toyed with his bait but never took it properly. He knew this fish well. She was called Monica.

Monica had the habit of taking the bait into her mouth but she was tentative and, after rolling of her eyes a little, she thought the better of it and spat it straight back out again.

This all took place during Clinton´s presidency and Norman christened the big carp Monica in honour of Monica Lewinski, the Whitehouse intern, who exhibited the same behavioural tendencies, more or less.

Amongst all this yarn spinning, we did manage to squeeze in a little fly tying and can show, for our combined efforts, two flies. One was a little size 14 nymph with a gold bead head and a pink body. The body comes from a strip taken from a plastic bag and it has a little copper wire to help hold it in place. We threw on a little dubbing and a very sparse hackle for good measure. This, we hope, is just the kind of thing a gypsy barbel might consider tasty.

The second fly was a biggish black woolly bugger with a tungsten bead to get it down to the fat black bass we imagined would be waiting for it.

I am very grateful to my colleague Jackie Benstead for taking acouple of lovely photos of the finished flies.

Ted Merrinin, who sadly passed away. Here he has a carp even bigger than Monica.

Ted Merrikin, who sadly passed away. Here he has a carp even bigger than Monica.

The little pink nymph

The little pink nymph

The black woolly bugger

The black woolly bugger

Ted´s box of fly tying things which includes a nifty hand-held vice.Ted´s box of fly tying things which includes a nifty hand-held vice.

A couple of pros!

A couple of pros!