Back in the early 80’s at Grafham their were a group of good mates who fished regularly and shared time in the Wheatsheaf , West Perry, discussing the great sport we were all enjoying. Little did we realise it at the time but there was indeed something special going on between us . We couldn’t have realised back then that what we were sharing was to have had such a lasting impression on Reservoir fishing. John Moore started the ball rolling by introducing his Hopper dry fly as a way towards regularly taking big rainbows both at Grafham and Rutland. During the summer of ’81, I had the extreme good fortune to chance upon the idea of greasing up a generic herl and seal’sfur fly in various colours , with immediate remarkable success. John recognising what the fly had to offer, named it the Raider. As the regular group of anglers sat every Saturday evening around the ” Fishermens Table” bouncing ideas off each other,we agreed the Raider was a killer fly but it had a weakness. The seal fur dubbed thorax, which had to be dubbed loosely for buoyancy, especially in the waves was not very resilient, a couple of trout and the thorax needed a re-dub. Denis Cooper was a fantastic angler in our group, pointed out one Saturday evening that the green bobbles that had developed on Bob’s favourite old fishing jumper were a perfect colour match for the Grafham green buzzer. The very next week-end Bob was showing us the fly he had tied up using the teased out woollen bits from his jumper. He had taken the Raider and substituted the fragile seal’s fur for his more resilient green wool. For more buoyancy he had added a red game hackle through the wool and to allow the fly to sit nicely on the nemiscus, he had trimmed of the underside hackle points. This fly was given the name quite rightly of “Bobs Bits” and has remained one of the most useful patterns that has proved so effective.
The Wheatsheaf pals became the Grafham Water Benson & Hedges competition team ,together we pioneered the use of fishing the single dry fly with great success and of course inevitably the flies that gave us such success soon became well known .
Bob was a quiet , soft spoken modest man, somewhat shy until he got to know someone.
He had many challenging obstacles in life, losing his wife Shauna when they were both quite young.
He managed to bring up his two sons up on his own, whilst working for Telecom and struggled with serious diabetes. Never once did I hear him complain about the adversities he had to overcome.
The special relationship and bond that we enjoyed together , feeding off each others flytying ideas and a fantastic fishing era, has prevailed , dispite Bob being unable to fish through illness in recent years.
This was evident when all the “team”re-united together with his many friends and family, at the Bedford Crematorium to say our goodbyes to one of the nicest and most capable people to have cast the dry fly.
My personal epitaph to Bob is to share the enjoyment I had with him a few years ago in mid December on a bright sunny day, the water was flat calm. I was not fishing, just taking my dogs for walk at the warmest part of a crisp day. We walked the north bank together, there was the occasional dimple on the surface. Bob was fishing in walking boots ,just stalking the most difficult of fish. He covered two fish with a size 16 Claret Bits on 3lb b.s. sub surface green tippet. His accuracy standing well back from the water’s edge was spot on. Bob watched each fish for it’s direction of travel , his fly landing less than a couple of feet from the nose, resulting in a gentle sip down, landing two perfect 3lb + Rainbows.
Bob was a true master with the dry fly. He will be missed by many. R.I. P. My friend. Ian.