Search and Sight Fishing

Frank Sawyer occupies a unique place in fly fishing history. He is, in my opinion one of the greatest nymph fishermen of all time. He used no bobber, yarn indicator or any other device, which would ‘set depth’ and support the nymph. Nor did he nip a split shot to the leader, he relied solely on the built in ballast of his artificials to achieve depth. To detect ‘takes’ he greased up his leader to within a yard or so of the nymph. This floating part of the leader was his only ‘strike indicator’ when he search fished. For us lesser mortals the greased up minicon or braided sleeve does a similar job.

However Frank Sawyer is probably more famed for his ‘sight fishing’. This technique calls upon eyesight to a far greater degree than merely detecting the slight movement of his greased up leader. It requires a skill, which he said - "surpasses the high art of dry fly".

If Frank Sawyer was an expert and intuitive nymph fisher he was no less an expert at the vice. It is the construction of Sawyer’s Nymphs which makes them totally unique in fly tying - he used no tying thread whatsoever, using instead fine copper transformer wire. This wire serves four functions, ballast, foundation shape, under colour, and tying medium. To this only one other material was added – long herls from tail or quill feathers or in the case of The Killer Bug a short length of sock darning wool - pure genius. In this video we start by search fishing for trout and grayling on a stretch of the Upper Avon which Frank Sawyer keepered. We then go to the crystal clear waters of the Lambourn sight fishing for trout and grayling using his famous Pheasant Tail Nymph.



Oliver Edwards

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