Saturday, 16 May 2009

A brief history.

I was 13 y.o. when I first started to tie flies. My Godfather (Mike Johnston) had 3/4 mile of the River Clwyd in St Asaph. My Father (Fred Wright) worked for him a loft manager at Clwyd lofts. So during the fishing season, on weekends & school holidays my Dad would take me to St Asaph to fish. I would spin & worm, as I never thought I could fly fish. Mr J's son Darren gave me some fly casting lessons & a basic fly tying kit, also a small booklet "basic fly tying" by Veinards. Darren showed me several basic tying’s & the rest is history. A friend of my Farther & Godfather, Bernie Lewis was also a fly fisherman & fly tier. I was about 17 y.o. & Bernie gave me new slant on things from the fish's view point e.g. length of tails & proportions etc. Then the next stage of my fly tying development was a strange encounter & massive. I had a Saturday on the Castle beat on the River Clwyd in Rhuddlan. I was shocked to find 2 people fishing my evening. One of them was going to be my new boss, as I had just lost my first job after leaving college, as I was a audio engineer. I explained that I had the Saturday on this beat & what the bloody hell were they doing. He said he thought nobody had the Saturday & apologized. He then said if I had seen anything like the flies he was using. He had an engineering business & had contracts with the M.O.D. One of those contracts was to place radio active lights into the iron sight of the SA80 machine gun. To which they had mounted these lights on some very badly tied flies. It was like a U.F.O. had landed into his fly box, multi coloured lights glowing every where without any batteries. He asked me if I tied flies to which I said yes & a lot better than the flies you have in your box. Good he said so when can you start tying, as we are having a big advert in Trout & Salmon magazine in a couple of months time, & our flies are falling apart before they get wet. This was the job of a life time. From Avro Engineering we became Avro firefly. We soon realized me tying flies all day was not the answer. From selling glow in the dark materials & some flies in a UV black box. It became aware that the flies where outselling the materials. First we went to Mr Dog Nobbler himself Syd Knight. The flies where OK & they sold quite well. Unfortunately the margins where not great. So a fly tying outfit in Kenya where contacted, they promised the earth & gave us Dearth. I spent several nights trying to re-tie some of them, but I gave up after 5 days. We spoke to Terry Griffiths who was developing some flies for us, incorporating some new products we had developed. This was my next stage of development. Terry's genius even over the phone and flies sent backwards & forwards through the post. I learnt so much, hackle proportion, head finishing, hair staking, the list goes on. He suggested we have to forget Firefly image if we wanted to be taken seriously. We had a brain storming day & I came up with Crystal River. We still had production problems until Terry gave us Highland fly’s info. We sent all our masters off & 3 months later we had them back in 1000's. The flies look like the masters & we had breached the gap. CR was born. To pad the range out with none fire fly related patterns I had my own search for excellence. I used to buy the US fly fishing magazines & the name that stood out from the rest in design & quality was Umpqua Feather Merchants. They were then based in Glide, Oregon. The flies where very expensive, but like nothing the UK masses had seen before. It took about 2 months to receive a catalog & samples of flies and tying materials another 2 months. We thought if the samples of their own stock flies would take so long, what would a big order be like. We where foreign to them, so we had to order via an agent this was another link. Four months later we had our padding. Umpqua’s flies where double the price of Highland’s but well worth it. The next stage was to get Umpqua to tie some of my patterns, intricate and complex flies that nobody in the UK could buy form the shops. This exercise would be my final input into CR direction. It took me one month to tie all the samples, & gather all the information (all this without the Internet and the World Wide Web). It took Umpqua 6 months to tie all the patterns. The masters took me days to tie and I had my doubts that they could pull it of. How wrong was I, they where in fact better than what I could tie especially in that volume. That was the swan song for me at CR It was moved to Dunchurch behind my back in the May of 1997 .My bosses Daughter & Son In-law took it over. Since then it has been sold on and many of my patterns are still available from their, even though they dropped my name (nix) off them all. Eleven years out in the fly tying wilderness I spent. My entire fly tying kit was bagged & boxed & put into storage at my Parents home. I found a job straight away at the Hotpoint factory. I spent three years there & saved enough money for a deposit on a property for me & my then girlfriend (now Wife). Several jobs later in the domestic appliance repair industry; I set up on my own & got married that year too. We set up a cleaning company as well. The years went by & I started to get the hunger again & the passion for fly tying. It was August 2008 & I met my old boss from CR again (first time since the last day of work for him), coming out of the local D.I.Y. super store. I wanted to give him a mouthful, but he looked old & me being ¼ Greek, philosophy was the order of the day. In leavening CR & getting that job at Hotpoint, I had a spare month to reflect. A local business man Russell Rowley, who had helped print the last 4 new pages of CR’s portfolio, offered me a chance to start my own fly fishing business split the profits 30 / 70 in my favor & he would finance it as well. I mulled it over and started to tie some new flies, & design some literature too. Unfortunately my heart was not in it & I shelved it. Looking back now it was a very wise decision. That’s where it had been since 1997 on the shelf until August 2009. Deer Creek was the name then, & that’s its name now. Deer Creek similar too CR it had to be. I virtually gave it birth to CR, but its mine. I have all the bills to pay now, & all the limits of my own imagination to bring you flies form all over the world. To find like minded fly tiers world wide to bring new ideas from their bench & from my own bench too. Deer Creek “ultimate fly craftsmanship”.

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