VOLUME 30, ISSUE 1. July 2023

The first night having dinner at The Blue Duck Inn, during our trip to Big River (Upper Mitta Mitta River) in May 2021.

The Beautiful Snowy Creek, in the Victorian High Country near Mitta Mitta, being enjoyed by Vorn and Trevor Sweeney during our May 2023 trip.


Next Members Monthly Meeting

Our next Members Monthly Meeting will be held at The Freeway Hotel in Artarmon, on the corner of Reserve Road and The Gore Hill Freeway. The meeting will kick off at 7:00pm on Monday, 10th July 2023.

Our guest speaker will be by the organisation "Keep Fish Wet".

Please view further down the Flyrodder for the details.


Next Members Monthly Fly Tying 

The Next Monthly Fly Tying Meeting will held on Monday, 17th July 2023 at our usual venue in the Green Room of the Henley Community Centre, kicking off at 7:00pm.

See further details below under the Monthly Fly Tying segment.


President's Report

Denis Hill with a gorgeous Mataura River brown from the February 2023 NZ Trip.

Dear {Contact_First_Name},

“Now is the hour of our discontent” yep ! its winter, cold and miserable weather and the rivers are shut to trout fishers. But there are some spots of silver lining glinting through:

The dams and lakes are open for fishers and a number of our members have been doing ok at Thompson Creek Dam (TCD), you may recall when Murray from Aussie Flyfisher presented at the Club, he said the best fishing days at TCD are the gray, windy, miserable ones.

In the salt water there are luderick, bream, flathead, salmon and tailor around the harbor and bays and unlike trout in the dams, they are around on those glorious sunny Sydney winter days.

The Club is still running casting practice and fly tying to help you fill your fly box and straighten out your cast before trout season opens again. Additionally we have set the date for this year’s “Tie In” (a full day of fly tying instruction and social chat), it’s on September 23rd, we have booked the hall and are currently planning the day – bookings will open in a few weeks’ time.

Finally, if the winter blues get you down and you just want to sit in a chair in front of the fire, well do that, then jump onto the club website and go to our library. There are now 32 guest speaker presentations in the library that’s hours and hours of great fly fishing entertainment just for club members.

Tight Lines,


Denis Hill


From the Editor

Gavin with a Mitta Mitta brown on our April 2023 trip.

Well, I'm back from my camping trip to Far North Queensland, and everything has reverted to normal except for having to get used to the colder weather back home in Sydney. Cape Tribulation was wonderful around 25C and warm enough to really enjoy the local seasonal fruit ice creams and sorbet at the Daintree Ice Cream Company, especially the Soursop!!!

This months July Flyrodder has a great segment introducing our club member and professional rod builder, John Baricevic. John has been running our annual rod building event and many members have built their now favourite rod/s under his tuition and great instruction. Should you wish to have John custom build you a rod, then his contact details are at the end of that report. So please get in touch with him.

Winter is planning time for the next trout season,. so that's on my plate at the moment for Big River and Mitta Mitta 2024.

So for the moment I need to get out more often on the kayak in Sydney's many waterway options and do some salt water fly fishing. It's salmon season as we speak, plus there is always luderick, bream and other species you will encounter. 

Plus now is the time to tie your first fly at the monthly fly tying event run by our master Dave Wilson, and also important to improve your fly casting, especially for presentation and accuracy, and you can achieve that by attending the monthly Fly Casting Practice sessions run by David Caddies. All the details are further down in this edition of The Flyrodder. We are very fortunate to have these wonderful resources available free to Members, so please take the opportunity to improve your fly fishing capability; even to just come and observe, though it's much more fun to take part.

So get to it, and we will see you there.

Gavin van der Wagen




Last Monthly Meeting and Guest Speaker Report

At the June Members Monthly Meeting our Guest Speaker was our own Life Member and fly tying el supremo Dave Wilson. Dave also leads our Monthly Fly Tying Event, and for this month he did a follow on from this presentation and we put things into practice by tying the popular hare and copper.

David provided the attending members with a wonderful presentation, in which he shared so much of his experience and knowledge that he has acquired over the many years since first tying a fly as a young boy.

You can view this meeting video and indeed all the previous presentations on our Members Private Video Library on YouTube. To view them please Login to our Sydney Fly Rodders Website; click on Members and select YOUTUBE CHANNEL, as per the picture below.

We have many wonderful videos in our Private Members Video Library, in fact they're all wonderful and informative, plus you can view them at your leisure!

Following are some pictures of the meeting.

Our President Denis Hill kicks off the meeting.

We had 40 plus members attending which was a great turnout

David Major providing a fishing report

Dave with fellow Life Member Alan Rogers and David Major, our Membership Manager.

Dave kicks off his presentation

David demonstrating a point

Matching the hatch

Food for thought

Insect Life Cycles

Denis thanks Dave with a bottle of red

To view additional photos of our Meeting please click on this link:



Next Monthly Meeting and Guest Speaker

Our July Members Monthly Meeting is at our usual venue, The Freeway Hotel in Artarmon, on Monday the 10th July 2023, kicking off at 7:00pm.

Our Guest Speaker will be Sascha Clark Danylchuk from Keep Fish Wet, an organisation who promotes the use of science-based best practice to catch, handle, and release fish.

Science shows that even small changes in how an angler catches, handles, and releases a fish can have positive outcomes once that fish swims away. Not only does using best practice increase survival rates of fish, but it also helps fish return to their normal behaviour as quickly as possible after release.

This promises to be another very interesting presentation.

For those unable to attend the meeting we will be recording the presentation and then uploading it to our Club Members Private Video Library on YouTube. 

You will also be able to view all the previous meeting presentations that we have recorded, and view at your leisure.

Many of our attendees arrive a bit earlier and have dinner either before, else the bar staff will deliver your meal order to our meeting room and you can enjoy your meal, and or drink, whilst the meeting is underway. The food is good value for money and the company is priceless!! So come along and have a relaxing and entertaining meeting where you can meet other members and pick up on useful snippets information that is shared amongst the group.

Our Meeting is normally held on the 2nd Monday of each month, unless it is a public holiday; in which case it will be delayed a week. 

There is ample parking in the parking garage under the Freeway Hotel, which is accessed from Dickson Avenue (at the back), just off Reserve Road, in Artarmon.

The address is 115 Reserve Road, Artarmon 2064 (for for GPS). 

Looking forward to catching up at the meeting.


New Members

We had eight new members join our club in May and June.

We welcome Steve Buckpitt, Lance Jansen, Lindsay Martin, Robyn Maurice, Simon Mitchell, Ricky Montero, Julian Short and Louise van Dyck to our Club.

We encourage new members to join in on the many activities that we run as this is a good way to meet other club members and also to improve your fly fishing skills and most importantly to have a great time.

Looking forward to meeting you at our Monthly Members Meetings and at events throughout the coming year.


Last Months Casting Practice Report


Two reports in one? Yes, now that our dear editor has finally returned from Travelling North and is back at the desk churning out the July Flyrodder. This is an excuse for me to be brief and to just give an overview of activity. 

The May practice day was held in bright sunshine and was a day made for casting - maybe even fishing, some would say. Well, 19 members thought it was a day for practice, including half a dozen first-timers who were mostly recently-joined members. Lots of stripping and slipping went on as we tried to figure out what hand and rod movements produced those fine loops. Not all were fine, we found, but that’s what practice is for: repeat the good; learn the new; adjust the untidy. The past few months have seen an emphasis on connecting the action sequence of hand and rod movements with the resultant loop shape so that self-correction becomes a learned skill and an end in itself. The point being that if you make unsatisfying casts when fishing, or no cast at all because you can’t fish the conditions, you will at least recognize the fact and perhaps know how to go about changing something for the good.  

That would be my aim at the practice sessions, if you have ever wondered. Ie to have members learn about fly casting as a ‘cause and effect’ process, rather than, “here’s the way to do it – end of story”. As Einstein said, “to know is not enough, you need to understand.”  It is never too serious, however. As Paul Arden, a contemporary of Einstein I believe, says on his flyfishing site, “It’s an adventure – bring flyrods!”

In June, a few nervous nellies thought a tremendous deluge of rain which fell on Five Dock at 8.20 am on the Sunday morning would see the practice session washed out. A ‘dirty dozen’ of true believers turned up and we got a total of about 55 spots of rain during the morning, all of which fell on the rain jackets of those ‘be prepared’ members. I have always said that the sun shines upon the righteous, and such were we that day. Notwithstanding that, the sun didn’t actually shine, but it’s still my favourite metaphor. 

As a reward for their conscientiousness, we spent the whole session tackling the subtle art of roll-casting on the grass. An activity which our betters tell us is not possible. Nevertheless, some of us began to grasp the differences in feeling and result, between using the tip, the middle and the butt of the flyrod to achieve the goal.  It may have just been a ruse to improve overhead casting techniques. What can be said is that everybody got the line off the ground, into the air and out towards the target: with loops much straighter and narrower than the usual round circles ending in a piled leader which is what you expect on grass. Also, we had a secret training weapon. If you have roll-casting phobias, I’ll introduce you to the weapon when you are ready. 

See you at casting practice.


David Caddies

Our next Casting Practice will be held on Sunday, the 2nd July. See the following section for further information.

June Casting Practice Photos, courtesy of George Nolevski:


Club Monthly Casting Practice - Details and Event Schedule.


Reminder: Leave your 9 – 10’ trout leader with the 5X tippet at home. Bring one which is 8’ – 8’6” and terminating in 8 or 10 lb tippet. This session will suit DT or WF floating lines, for the single-handers. Two-handers, bring what you got. 

Start time is 9am:

HOWEVER: If you wish to have a go at being evaluated for any one or more of the casts in the Bronze Skills Development Program and you would like to come earlier than 9, send me a text message to that effect on 0434 671 085 and I’ll be there to set it up, from 8am. Coaching and demonstrations will be going on after 9, but with not much opportunity for individual evaluations. Early notice would be appreciated, but don’t let that stop you from a late practice on Saturday to see if you’re ready! 

All members are welcome to join in the club’s usual monthly practice session. If you want to know everything about the club’s casting practice sessions, read the whole blurb in the Flyrodder magazine.

WHERE: Timbrell Park, Henley Marine Drive, Five Dock. Go to the western end of Henley Marine Drive, past the cricket pitches, baseball nets and just past LIvvi’s coffee kiosk and kids’ playground area. There is an open area opposite where Ingham Avenue intersects with Henley Marine Drive which we usually use. It is not part of the sports fields. If conditions there are not suitable on the day, we will be just opposite, across the canal, or anywhere within sight that I can find. 

If you can’t make it this time and want some good practical instruction to guide you, check out this site: https://www.flyfishersinternational.org/Learn/Learning-Center-Resources/Fly-Casting/Casting-Instruction

I don’t know if that link works for you. Google FFI flyfishing and delve around. Most stuff is open to non-members. 

David Caddies 

So come and give it a try, as there is so much to be gained  by attending these sessions. And they are Free!!!

The following are the remaining dates for Casting Practice in 2023:

2nd July

6th August

10th September

8th October

5th November and

3rd December.

Put these dates in your diary.


Last Months Fly Tying Meeting Report

Fly tying on 26 June with Dave Wilson

This session was focussed on tying the popular Hare and Copper nymph fly. As Dave said, in our monthly members presentation the week before, that this is the first fly that anyone should ever tie.

We had a great turnout of 14 members, of which 2 were tying for the first time. The great thing is that they tied a good first fly; see photos below.

These are wonderful sessions with our fly tying guru Dave, so even if you are thinking about tying, and wondering about the benefits, please come along and give it a try as we have plenty of fly tying equipment, and you don't have to bring a thing; apart from yourself that is. Or you can just come and watch. Give it a go as we all commenced our fly tying in this manner and Dave will teach you the correct techniques and various tricks to make it a straight forward process.

As Dave says "Learn the core skills and tie any pattern you like!"

Some photos from the session:

Dave Wilson gets the show on the road
A full table of eager fly tyers
Rupert Morton (in the beanie) tied his first fly, then Garry Dinnie was in his 2nd tying session, with old hand Craig Sommerville at the right.
Geoff McMillan looking on intensely; or dreaming about the fish his fly will catch
This is how you begin with the Hare and Copper nymph
Looks like Jim Hemmings is in the naughty chair. But we had a full table and he was in the overflow table. A great turnout.

Rupert Morton is all concentration whilst Garry Dinnie watches on

Alan Baldry, our Web Manager, on the right at his very first fly tying session.
Building the wing case

This was my attempt (Gavin, Editor)

Rupert Morton's very first fly and it will catch fish!

For more photos of this event please click on the following link to our Google Album:



Next Monthly Fly Tying Meeting

Our next Monthly Fly Tying Meeting will be held on Monday, 17th July 2023, from 7:00pm to 9:30pm. The doors will open at 6:30pm to give you time to set up for a 7:00pm start.

Continuing on the theme of skill building, we will be focusing on conventional hackling as well as how to tie soft hackles on traditional "spider" flies such as a Partridge & Orange.

We will also sort out the differences between Chinese, Indian and genetically bred hackles including saddles and others.

Getting the size right along with tying hackles that won't fall apart on the first fish will be the focus.

We will be using a Red Tag and Partridge & Orange to practice hackling.

We normally have experienced tiers to help and look forward to seeing you at Henley on Monday 20 Feb.

For those who don't have a vise, we have ample spare one's available.

We particularly welcome first timers and all levels of fly tiers as you will all learn something from these wonderful sessions.

If you would like to just come and observe, then please do so to see if this is for you. You'll be surprised at how "easily" you can get into tying your own flies.

The venue is the Henley Community Centre in Hunters Hill, and we meet in the  Green Room on the right as you enter.

The venue address is: Crown Street, Henley, NSW 2111. As you turn into Crown Street, from Victoria Road, take the first left and drive down a bit of a bumpy road, and it's the last building about a 100 yards down the drag. There's parking off the track and walk through a small road, but it's a short walk to the front door.

Red Tag

Partridge & Orange

Mitta Mitta Trip Report - May 2023

by Doug Chang

The Club’s May 2023 Mitta Mitta trip was my second club outing and only confirmed how fortunate I am to have joined such a great group as the Flyrodders and the wonderful like minded people I’ve met so far. 

My first club outing was Long Plain back in December and that experience of camping and fishing in the snow in summer gave me the confidence I could handle and enjoy whatever challenges nature could bring as I learn more about this fascinating art of fly fishing. 

Again I was very lucky to have my great mate Steve Peach as my “guide” for this trip. I’m very grateful for Steve’s patience and knowledge as I start my fly fishing journey. There is so much to learn in this pursuit and I can now see why it is so addictive and a life long passion of many of you. 

The Mitta river was flowing very strongly which made the fishing pretty tough - Steve told me the flood’s last year seemed to have removed many of the structures and river bed formations to hold the trout so we found the tributaries like Snowy Creek to be more productive. But fishing with someone of the calibre of Steve shows that fish can be found and caught in most places if you know what you are doing ! 

It took me a few days to get into my first fish as I had to further develop my new skills in the dark art of euro nymphing. This was certainly the most productive method of fishing for Steve that week. I found my biggest challenges was the technical side of this and also developing my skills in reading the water for likely fish holding spots. I’ve done a lot of bass fishing in recent years and by now have pretty good feel for where bass are likely to be, but it seems to me that the margin of error of where you need to cast to get a trout interested is on a another level altogether. 

Eventually I landed my first decent brown on day 4 up on Snowy Creek. It was especially satisfying as I identified the seam and managed to get the cast and drift down just right and then saw the line straighten ever so unnaturally. Finally one of my strikes paid off. I can now see how managing the drift and getting just the right amount of line tension is so critical to increasing your catch rate in both Euronymphing and managing a dry fly drift.

My improved euro technique eventually let me end up with about a dozen fish after 6 days. Doesn’t appear too good, but to my wife’s surprise when I told her this - it doesn’t bother me at all as I’m happy to keep learning the technique and finer points to hold me in good stead for the future. It is truly a fascinating pastime and I can’t be more fortunate to have someone like Peachy  to show me the ropes. 

I can see myself spending more time fly fishing now and especially in my quest to get my first trout on a dry fly - that’s for next season. In the meantime I think I am falling in the rabbit hole of researching and buying all those bits and pieces that go into serious fly fishing. 

I was also amazed how beautiful the country around Mitta Mitta is and how “fly fisher” friendly the camping and river access is in that part of Victoria. Plus the wonderful food and atmosphere at that well disguised gem of the Mitta hotel.   

Thanks to Gavin and club for organising a great trip. I continued to meet and befriend some very welcoming club members who I hope to fish with more in the future. I love how open everyone is in sharing to their knowledge.   The Club’s efforts over the years in getting to know the locals and the strong relationships with them to allow access to the river via their properties is also a wonderful thing. 

The Mitta Mitta Pub

My First Trip, Mitta Mitta

by Paul Gordon

I was lucky due to a cancellation to attend the Mitta Miita trip this year. I enjoy exploring new areas to fly fish and had always wanted to fish the Mitta Mitta River and surrounding creeks and streams after reading about the area in numerous magazines and trout fly fishing books.

The added bonus for me was not having to fish new territory alone and to learn from the other members on this annual Sydney Fly Rodders trip to the Victorian Mitta Valley.

The Mitta Mitta River was running high and fast due to water releases from the Dartmouth Dam for most of the week so the majority of us fished the excellent Snowy Creek accessing the creek from the many campgrounds along the Omeo Highway.

During the week I observed and then tried my hand at Euro nymphing under the guidance of fellow club member Grant Flawith who generously shared his knowledge and spare Euro nymphing set up with me as well as his precious fly fishing time and we fished both the Snowy Creek and the Mitta Mitta below Dartmouth Dam once the river had eased in flow later in the week.

We were also able to access the Mitta Mitta River from two local farmers properties which was very much appreciated and coming from a dairy farming background during my childhood I enjoyed their banter and humour as part of our visit to their farms.

The evenings were spent at the local Mitta Mitta Hotel where we would catch up with everyone's day on the water and discover how different spots and techniques were working. The hotel food was excellent particularly the chef’s local Samba deer schnitzel that I dined on 4 of the 5 nights that we ate there!

Overall it was a most enjoyable week of fishing, conversation and exploring new locations with a great bunch of fellow fly fishers who were more than willing to share their knowledge and yes we did catch plenty of rainbow and brown trout along the way. 

The following photos provided courtesy of Vorn Sweeney

The locals on one of the farms that we fished!

The Mitta Mitta River on one of the dairy farms

Some stayed at the "Pink House" conveniently located across the road from the Mitta Pub.

The gorgeous Snowy Creek near the Lightning Creek tributary

Trevor Sweeney on Snowy Creek

Mitta Mitta River downstream

Autumn shades along Little Snowy Creek

Mitta Mitta

Vorn Sweeney in the foreground, euro nymphing, whilst hubby Trevor Sweeney attends to his tackle in the background

Roger Thornback with his first success at euro nymphing

The perfect picnic spot

Gavin's brown

Autumn in full bloom

Nice brown

Vorn and Trevor Sweeney working their way up Snowy Creek

For more photos of this trip please click on the following link to our Google Album:



The Frosty, Fintastic, Fishing Fiasco: a Three-Day Adventure into a Fisherman's Paradise.

by Nick Croom

Once upon a time, from May 5th to May 8th, three intrepid fisher-friends embarked on a wild and picturesque adventure. Our heroes of the tale, Craig Perkins, Forrest Moebes, and yours truly, braved the cold and wet conditions to conquer Prussian Creek, and the Snowy River near Dalgety, in search of the mythical fish of yore.

Day 1: The Snowy River, with its stunning snow-capped mountains, greeted us like a scene from a postcard. As the fish danced to the tune of Parachute Adams and Royal Wulff, we reeled in our slippery brown and rainbow friends, weighing up to 1.5 pounds. What a sight to behold!

Day 2: Up in the high country, Prussian and Pipers Creek beckoned, revealing secrets of their lesser-known, fun-loving fish. We discovered fish with a penchant for fruit loops (or so we imagined as they were hungry and not in the least bit picky), and Mowamba’s underwater residents, who couldn't resist the allure of a Royal Wolfe on a size 18 hook. 

Day 3: Alas, the cold, wet weather would have its way. With the Snowy Hydro generating and Gungarlin Weir open, the Snowy River near Island Bend and the Adit was deemed too dangerous for our adventure. Mother Nature, perhaps sensing our disappointment, lured us to the Snowy near Dalgety's Ironpot Creek. But alas, the subzero temperatures and deep fish retreats foiled our final attempts.

Despite the challenges, we found solace in the enchanting scenery and wildlife encounters. We were spared the hiss of slithering snakes, but greeted by hoppers in the high country, defying the frosty odds.

A word to the wise: when journeying to the upper Snowy, take the new path between Charlotte's Pass and Guthega, for a breathtaking view awaits you and the Snowy is accessible throughout its length. And as you venture forth, pay heed to the small streams, where fish hide in plain sight, eager for a nibble.

Our adventure may have been tinged with frosty fingers and soggy socks, but the warmth of friendship, the roaring fire, and Forrest's culinary delights paired with a fine red wine made it all worthwhile. We may not have won the battle against the elusive fish, but we emerged with tales to tell and memories to cherish

A cheeky brown from Prussian Creek

A view from our window on Monday morning.....a chilly start indeed!

Nick on Guthega Dam

Forrest and Craig with the Upper Snowy River as a backdrop

Craig having a flick on the upper Snowy River

Nice stretch of the Snowy near Dalgety....shame the weather didn't permit much fishing

John Baricevic - Club Member and Professional Rod Builder

By way of introduction, John has been running our annual Rod Building Events for the past 7 years, if my memory serves me correct. Actually, I'm basing that on the number of fly rods that I have built during these activities, under John's tuition.

John is a stickler for "doing things correctly", has immense patience and very good at sharing his rod building knowledge to ensure that we build the rod correctly and in line with customs and tradition, but at the same time tailored to your specific requirements and specifications.

John would order the required blank and all the components to ensure that everything matched up perfectly and the finished product would land up as we required.

To introduce John, I asked him the following questions, and here are his responses.

Editor: Where and when did you start fly fishing?

John:  "Still a teenager at this point, my family and I were living in the west of Sydney. A few houses to our left there were two Irish brothers who had shown me their strange looking fishing rod. No back handle, a really small front grip and a weird looking reel seat. They tell me it's a Fly rod and used for Fly fishing. They proceed to show me a box full of these dressed hooks which are suppose to somehow mimic flies and that you catch Trout in Irish freshwater streams. This was one of their favourite pastimes while living there. They ask me if I'd like to go to the park and try casting the Fly rod and so it began from there. They would demonstrate how to cast and as soon I as picked up the rod I was pretty much hooked. My loops were a little wild but I very quickly developed a rhythm and continue to delve deeper and deeper into the sport. Within months I was tying Flies and buying a cheap Rod and preparing to hit the mountains for a fishing trip. I might be wrong but I think my first Fly fishing destination was Lake Lyell and I'm pretty sure I struck out."

Editor: “Do you only flyfish, or do other forms?”

John: "No, before I was lured into Fly fishing, my father had introduced me to conventional spin fishing. I remember my first rod ever was a Shakespeare Ugly Stick and we would try and catch what was available locally using Prawn and Pilli's as bait. There were many future trips were my cousins and I would combine an overnight camp and beach fishing, cooking and eating whatever was caught. I remember being introduced to hard and soft body lures. This was a "game changer" and I began testing these plastic fish against the Trout in the West of Sydney. The Rapala X-Rap Original Trout pattern became the "go-to" lure for me and my mates."

Editor: How did you get into rod-building?

John: "Like so many other beginnings, my introduction to rod building came not from necessity but rather a case of “boys and their toys” syndrome. Several years now, my buddies and I were camping out next to the Fish River in the west of Sydney and while wetting a line hoping for a Trout bite, I remember telling my best mate that I hated my crappy 6 foot K-Mart special and would build a rod instead. I went home after the trip and began looking into what was available on the current market and noticed that everything I wanted was at least $500 or over. Well I wouldn't stand for that, so I decided to research what it would cost to build a similar rod. For me, the cost was worth it and so I cooked up my shopping list. Before I knew it I had build about 8 rods in the next 12 months with most going to my close friends. In fact, one of my first rods I built is something I still use today. After those first 12 months my interest matured into an obsession. Building a studio, I locked myself into the craft , spent more and more on equipment and fell deeper into Rod Building. There was no way of escaping now and so I kept on pushing forward with more and more builds every year after that.

Editor: What’s your best fishing story?

John: "That's a hard one but I have a lot of great memories of fishing trips. Catching different species in different place here in Australia and around the world. Most of them have left a lasting mark in my heart and mind. Some of them are of fish that I have caught and others of fish that I had missed however, if I were to talk about the best fishing story, then I would have to resurrect my encounter with the first fish caught on Fly. As I mentioned previously, the Irish Brothers had introduced me to Fly fishing and after several months I was ready to go out and catch a fish on Fly. The thing is, I had almost given up on the whole thing because trip after trip during that time I kept on coming up with a donut. It was much harder than I thought and my frustration was getting the better of me. After a long break from Fly fishing I would take a trip to the Fish river with a friend. I took my Fly rod where he would be throwing hard-body lures. Starting  from the North end of our run I waded slowly towards his position. When I reached him I asked if he had any success and he tells me, "there's a Brown under the overhanging branches on the other side of the stream."

I ask him if I could try catching the little sucker and so I begin throwing my dry Adams making sure everything is lined up properly. Making sure the drift is perfect, making sure the fly is sitting up at the right level and that leader just straight enough but not too straight. My heart was racing at that moment but my mind was so focused on that Fly and every element that was connected to it. Well the first run the fly made along the stream's bank triggered a response and the Fish exposed itself barely missing the eat. I was so excited that I willed myself to be calm and make sure that the next cast and run were spot-on. The next cast was a few metres in front of the target and the drift was perfect with the Fly passing directly overhead. The Brown lifted its snout and sucked down its mark and my reaction was spot on resulting in a fairly short but sweet fight and a gorgeous 2 pound fish. I was physically shaking and over the moon and shouting to the heavens. That first catch on Fly was incredible and left an indelible mark, one which would knock over the first domino and see me searching for the next catch and then the next."

Editor: Have you done any overseas flyfishing?

John: Yes I've been to a few places; one of my favourites would be fishing West Canada on Vancouver Island. A friend of mine lives there and so I spent a week either fishing with him or alone. The Pink Salmon run was on during that time and he would introduce me to "Flossing". For those of you who may not know what Flossing is; It's when you cast out your fly to literally a swarm of fish and retrieve it ultra fast hoping for the hook to latch on. Brow up, I was sort of surprised but he assured me that the Salmon were spawning and weren't interested in eating. I decided fairly quickly that I'd rather do it the hard way and either entice or annoy the hell out these little critters. My weapon of choice on the streams here was my 11 foot Switch rod. This is where I ran a 24 foot floating short Spey line with a 10 foot sinking tip and a really heavy Salmon fly. The waters were running pretty fast and the fish had anchored themselves about 3 -4 foot below the surface. If there was any chance for a take, I knew that I needed to get the fly down fast on the swing and I had to be extremely accurate. These fish were not moving and if I were to try and agitate them into attacking the Fly, then I would literally need to hit them on the nose. I fished that session landing two Pinks. The Pinks where both 8 and 10 pound which was average for the run. One of the days we were walking up-stream, casting in all the corners and holes, using small pink wet Flies and landing a few Trout. Jack explains that up ahead there is a big hole which ended up being about 10 Metres long, 3 Metres wide and the same deep. Inside that hole I witnessed something that I would not see on any other fishing trip. I was standing on top of a rock looking down at the submerged hole and saw  what I summed up to be about 2 tonne of Salmon. There were fish in there with the girth of barrel and they would easily have weighed over 40Kg. It was an incredible sight and something I won't be forgetting. Besides the fishing, Canada is an extremely beautiful place to visit in regards to the terrain and nature and as a fishing destination it is a place that every Fisher should try and visit.

Ed: What’s your favourite land based spot in Sydney?

John: I would say that after fishing in numerous Sydney locations over an extended period of time that the Fish River is my favourite spot only due to nostalgic reasons. It was the place where I caught my first Trout on fly. It would be a go-to destination for a camp-out for me and my mates. It was a place where more than a few memories were made.

Ed: Who in the flyfishing world do you respect or think is good?

John: I hate dropping names so I'll leave you with; I think there are a lot of people that have developed their art over an extensive period of time. They have developed the skills and know-how over the years guiding all that would follow, speeding up our tuition into the brilliant pastime we know as Fly Fishing. There are Fishers with natural talent that simply amaze and others which have worked there butt off, risking all to get out there and push the limits. These are the guys and girls I take my hat off to.

Ed: Do you have a favourite rod?

John: That's really the wrong question to ask a Rod Builder. The saying, "who's your favourite child applies in this case". As a Rod Builder I build rods for specific applications and so each rod is tailored to operate exactly for that purpose. I have built rods which are extra "special", because of the work involved and the decorations included in the build. Some of these rods are Fly rod and others Spin rods but each of them stand out on their own accord. As a Fly Fisher on the other hand, there are a few models that I have built which I am fond of and that I find to have a brilliant action and perform exceptionally. In the end, we all have a favourite until something better comes along.

John at some idyllic location

Barick Origin Story

Like so many other beginnings, my introduction to rod building came not from necessity but rather a case of “boys and their toys” syndrome. Several years now, we were camping out next to the Fish River in the west of Sydney and while wetting a line hoping for a Trout bite, I remember telling my best mate that I hated my crappy 6 foot K-Mart special and would build a rod instead. 

The idea became inception and it didn’t take long to turn it into action so I started collecting as much information as possible about building fishing rods. It’s just like fishing or any other vice. You start off slow, spending as little money as possible, testing the waters in case you find out it wasn’t your cup of tea allowing for a comfortable escape. In my case there was no possible escape. After the first year I had already built about 8 rods and half of them were for close friends. A few of them were actually very presentable at a near professional standard. What made the hobby more enjoyable was largely the international online presence and support. I was honestly surprised at the number of people that were building rods overseas, albeit mainly in America. The enormous amount of information and help available made my transition into the craft much easier than any pre internet hobby in the past. There was however a strong presence of Australian builders including one which I would later befriend.  Tony Davis a long-time rod builder would be someone I would share rod building ideas with and those ideas, experiments and new techniques made us both much better builders. This type of support permeated through the entire national and international rod building community and I must admit, would become one of the main reasons I was so strongly engaged.

I mention rod building as being an art but it morphed into something more. Due to my engineering background, I very quickly began treating rod building not only in a creative manner but in a technical manner.  From an artistic standard, the internet would show me all the exquisite work that my fellow rod builders from around the world were creating. This would give me a benchmark to aspire to and eventually surpass but I had to find my own way when it came to building a technically sound fishing rod. This type of information was much harder to come by and I would have to use all my engineering know-now and experience to find my own way. I would quickly come to discover that a good rod builder must know the particular mechanics of the style of fishing if he was to build a rod for that discipline. A salt water reel seat just isn’t a good look on a 4wt, 8-foot fly rod which is meant for twig water fishing. I actually made this mistake on my first fly rod and then later stripped it back down and rebuilt it with the appropriate components. That particular rod became one of the best freshwater rods I had ever cast and fished with. It also developed into the main character of my story in Flylife magazine.

I’m about five or six years into the art of rod building. My binds are getting straighter, epoxy finish is getting neater and smoother and designs much more attractive. This is when Exclusive Tackle, one of my components suppliers holds their first rod building competition. Rules are, build any rod you like however,it must be with our components. I had an old ultra-light, ultra-fast, 10Kg line rated CTS spin rod blank which I was saving and thought this would be the perfect opportunity. I wanted the colours to complement each other but the design needed to pop and be engaging at the same time. My idea was to create a split grip rod with a Tiger wrap on the split and a marbling effect above the front grip. Needless to say, I would take the honours that year and the following two after that.

Even after all this time the bug kept gnawing and I couldn’t help trying to improve some other aspect of my rod building process. They said it couldn’t be done, that the process would remain a long laborious manual chore but my engineering alter-ego wouldn’t take no for an answer. It took more than a few years but I finally finished my Guide Train design program which I would go on to call CiC (Curve in Curve). This would become a computer aided engineering system which would cut down the time for Guide Train design step in the rod building process from a typical hour or so to about 5 to 10 minutes.This sort of hunger also translated to my attention to detail using a blank deflection board. One of the very first steps in building a rod is to make sure I have a consistent blank action throughout all models. The blank of the rod is tested on the deflection board with a particular load for the particular line class at 45 degrees. Under load the curve the blank produces is recorded and used in future builds to assure consistency throughout all line classes. This is something that I have learnt no other commercial rod maker has done successfully.

Approximately 10 years had passed now when I had joined the Sydney Fly Rodders club of young and old, mainly old Fly Fishers. Here for the next 7 years I would pass on my knowledge and experience in the form of rod building classes. I would tutor club members on how to build their own Fly rods. I must confess, some of the boys did a fine job.

So, on an on it went, a constant self-scrutiny of my techniques and work. That hunger to contribute to the art of Rod Building is what drives me and what I hope makes me a better builder. I knew no matter which discipline you’re pursuing, you’re not going to get any better standing still. Though, loving what you do makes it a lot easier. Whether it’s testing a blank on the deflection board or trying to come up with new well balanced thread patterns, that need to keep striving for perfection is what I love about my craft.

You can view John's website at: www.barick.com.au

Plus email him on john.b@barick.com.au should you wish to enquire with John about building a rod for you. 


Sydney Fly Rodders Facebook Pages

We run two SFRC pages, one is our public page and it posts events and activities of the club. It also shares posts from other pages like CAS, DPI on things relevant to the places and areas that we fish.

I post some fly tying every now and then and share links to events I find that might be of interest to followers. This page is a little like our Web page, it showcases the club to attract members and provides details of club events. It has about 450 people following the page and any post will be seen by between 180 and 240 people.

We added another page. This is reserved for members only and cannot be seen by anyone outside of the group. You will need to send a request to join. Any member can post on this page and it is a great opportunity for members to put up a post or two about anything fly fishing. I would like to encourage members to use this page to post fishing reports or photos of flies that you tied. Being connected to other members you can ask for some casting or gear advice, or organise a short trip when you suddenly have some spare time.

There are also hundreds of other groups; bream on fly, carp on fly, bass, trout....areas like alpine trout, Sydney Kayak Fishing....fly tying groups, buy sell swap fly gear pages and individuals like Aussie Flyfisher, Sydney Flyfishing to check out. 

Phil Burton


Sydney Flyrodders Instagram Page

The Sydney Fly Rodders are now on Instagram. Many thanks to our Member Maddie Chew Lee, who offered to set us up and apply her significant experience with marketing and communications in particular within the social media space. 

Please follow the site and add your comments, and lets grow this platform for the club. It will also attract new members to the club.

Below is a snapshot of the site. We aim to sync (in particular look and feel) the Instagram account with our Facebook account and also our new Website, which I talk more about in the preceding section.


Sydney Fly Rodders WhatsApp Group

We have an Exclusive Group on WhatsApp for our Members, which is a great way to communicate informally and to share ideas, seek advice and also to plan and seek interest for impromptu/planned fishing trips.

I can highly recommend this to members. We have arranged a number of trips now from a weekends bass fishing through to a casual and social Sunday morning or afternoons fishing at Narrabeen Lake or Hen & Chickens Bay etc. And there could even be a BBQ thrown in for a social get together afterwards. This will happen on most if not all occasions.

Should you wish to be included in this group, then please email me to request your inclusion, quoting your mobile number which is required to link you into the Group. You will need to download the WhatsApp first if you haven't already done so.

Please contact me for inclusion.

Gavin van der Wagen

Editor, Flyrodder



The End