Our great early season Ďall-rounderí is the viva. This fly has a large amount of variations, but the predominance of black as well as a bright green tail are the key elements. The local Bristol fishermen feel more confident if their vivas have jungle-cock eyes tied in as cheeks. My personal preference is to tie my viva with black seal fur bodies. I have never felt happy with chenille as a body material because to me it doesnít have enough life to it. Sealís fur on the other hand is sparkly and can be dubbed on in much more aesthetic quantities than you could ever tie chenille into a fly.

If you are new to fly tying I would advise you to get used to putting on a good "bed" of tying silk. I have seen some fly tyers wind their silk down to the bend of the hook in a most haphazard manner; this can lead to problems on certain patterns, so get used to applying your silk in close touching turns. I am using a size 10 Kamasan B175 Ė a hook that gives a lovely profile for nymphs, wet flies and small lures.

When you reach a point just about level with the point of the hook, tie in a length of oval silver tinsel, which will be used to rib the body. Once that is secure (three turns will be enough to do this), tie in the bright green floss, which will be the tail. I like to use "Datam Glo-brite" shade 12. This is a fluorescent floss silk and certainly stands out in coloured water.

When the tail is secure, dub the black sealís fur onto the silk. Do not use too much. I would always aim to have too little rather than too much. Wind the fur to a point about 3mm short of the eye of the hook. Next, wind the oval tinsel through the sealís fur and secure it too; then prepare the wing material.

For the viva we use black marabou feather. Prepare a good clump of this material and with your finger tips and nails strip off as much of the fluff as possible from the area that you are going to secure onto the hook. Tie in the marabou using the "pinch-and-loop" method, whilst ensuring that the material remains sitting on the top of the hook. Generally the marabou is too long for using in competitions so, once it is secure, pinch off the excess with your fingers.

The jungle-cock is now tied in as cheeks: one small feather each side or, if like me your cape only has larger feathers left, split a larger one in half and tie each of these to both sides. I have used full feathers for tying the flies to illustrate this article.

Finally, whip finish and apply a touch of varnish or superglue. I often omit this, especially when I am tying a lot of flies for myself. I believe that if a fly catches one fish then it has done its job, so I am not too worried about the whipping working loose, which it rarely does anyway. In the overall sense of things the cost of a fly is minimal. However, when I am tying for friends or to customers, I always apply some varnish.

Unlike many other anglers I like to fish small versions of vivas. As the season progresses I will often have a size 14 or 12 viva on the cast if the fish are not really taking the nymphs. They look really good in small sizes, but be sure to use sealís fur rather than chenille.

Next week I will look at the variety of buzzers we use on our lakes. Good luck with the tying.

Tight lines,
Martin Cottis