'I've got a belief - if you can sew a button on a shirt, you can tie a trout fly. It's just methods and proportions, that's all it is.
We watch the bugs that come off the water and we look at the colours that are there, then we settle down and we pick our materials that are going to match that. You can be reasonably close, you don't have to be a perfect representation because it's just not needed.
When you get fast-flowing water like you do with the Goulburn here - sometimes it's running at 3 or 4 megalitres a day when they're doing the irrigation stuff - that water is moving pretty fast and the trout doesn't have too much time to make up its mind. So what you've got to look at is the profile of the fly, and when the trout sees it coming into its vision it's got a limited time to make up its mind.'
Audio and transcript
Listen to more on the art of fly tying with Mick (MP3 205kb)
Duration: 51 seconds
So what you've got to look at is the profile of the fly. This is why we like to use a lot of what we call 'parachute hackle' flies here, where the hackle is wound around the base of the wing rather than round the eye of the hook in the standard fly pattern. The little hackle fibres there act like outriggers that kind of balances it on the water so that the wings stick upright, and that's the trigger, those little upright wings, because that's the feature of the mayfly when it's coming down - its little wings are standing upright. It's one of the first things to come into the trout's window, particularly when the water is moving fast. So you get the colour kind of right, you get the size right, you get that silhouette of what you're trying to represent - [the] rest is history! We're talking about the one that didn't get away!