A Foam Odyssey
by Stu Tripney
Stu Tripney is an ex-Scot, New Zealand guide and fly tyer, A Foam Odyssey is about his fishing and fly designs.
We all know New Zealand is one of THE trout destinations: this is the first time I've seen flies designed for those waters. Most Videos and DVDs I've seen suggest anglers use familiar flies, sometimes slightly adapted to suit NZ fishing - Stu seems to be on path of his own.
Stu's Bionic designs strike me as guide's flies: they catch fish, guides don't get tips or repeat customers if their flies don't fool fish; they stand up to trout teeth and get replaced easily if (when) they end up in a tree. Most are dry flies, Bionic Bug, Bionic Blowfly, Bionic Gnat, with a few sub-surface and nymph patterns and one bonefish crab.
At first glance, one or two of Stu's creations verge on the bizarre but look a little closer and from a fishy point of view, they look like food. Some simplify the natural, if fish don't see wings don't tie wings. Some include exaggerated features (eg tiny doll's eyes) on a dry fly are unusual. It strikes me that that willingness and ability to strip out the unessential and highlight key features is the hallmark of creative design.
If you want to get high-brow about it (Bob), look at those eyes and think of super-stimulus - features that elicit and release an innate behaviour. Bold design decisions - when they work they work well!
The Pogo Nymph is fascinating; leaded at the back, foam at the front. It sinks head up and the least line tension makes it swim - naturally - struggling up towards the surface. Clearly, these flies spring from fishing experience and thoughtful observation of natural bugs.
As a DVD production, A Foam Odyssey is a pretty well put together. Although Stu's flies are the linking theme, jaw-dropping scenes of huge trout rising to natural and non-natural targets mean A Foam Odyssey is enjoyable whether I tie or not. The guys driving the cameras seem to realise that fish, especially feeding fish are beautiful and get anglers excited (well they get me excited!)
Don't expect detailed, count the turns, type tying instructions. Expect a brief, do this do that use your common sense try it and learn for yourself, type sketch. That means this is for experienced and creative tyers who don't need or want to have their hands held. Which is fine. On the other hand, if foam is an unfamiliar material getting flies that look and fish the way Stu's look and fish may prove challenging - but worth the effort. (One tying sequence, the Bionic Damsel, uses a pre-made tail and I can find no instructions on how to make that tail.)
In the Bonus Section, Stu lays a couple of dries on a puddle and shoots them with a twelve bore. When the smoke clears, they gently bob back to the surface. Not a conventional approach to testing flies but had me laughing and twitching to shoot a couple of CDC or hackled dries. Just how good is that floatant? Bang!
Dramatic, funny, slightly silly? Yes. A spirit of fun and irreverence runs through Stu's Odyssey - a breath of fresh air.
A Foam Odyssey
By: Gin-Clear production
Price: $39.95 (£15)
Tel: (064) (0) 3 248880
Magnus Dec '07