Category: The Mailbox


Photo courtesy of Grant Carter.

These beauties from the White River were the rewards for Grant Carter as a result of his studies from Davy’s Wet Fly Ways DVD.

Grant was kind enough to share with us his excitement of his newly applied techniques and had this to say; ” a few weeks back, my first double was brought to net. I was experimenting with Davy Wotton’s “Wet Fly Ways” with a tagged soft hackle on top and a caddis emerger as an anchor–”

Grant went on to explain; ” I have fished tandem soft hackles on the White River many times with good and bad days. I am convinced–a great way to fly fish emergers! ”

Davy and I are so pleased that Grant is doing so well with his newest found fly fishing style of fly fishing and guess that it is safe to say that he’s “hooked”.

Thank you for sharing, Grant.

If any one else has photos and want to send us your success stories we would love read them,  and you may do so by emailing them to:

Keep a hook in the vise-



Five Days on Arkansas’s White River with the Fly Fish Whisperer
by Brad Coleman as told to, and with storyline, by Steve Piper

For those of you who are golfers, wouldn’t it be amazing if you could play with pre-meltdown Tiger Woods for a week to learn his secrets of golf? Or better yet, to play with Tiger while taking valuable tips and pointers from Tiger’s seasoned teachers? You wouldn’t become Tiger by the end of the week, but you would get a lot of inspiration and a great nudge in the right direction. The fly fishing version of this actually happened to me on Arkansas’s White River. For my birthday this past November, I was fortunate enough to book one of the world’s most seasoned fly fishermen and instructors rolled into one, Davy Wotton (rhymes with Cotton), for 5 days of trout fishing on Arkansas’s White River. If you don’t know about Davy, you’re missing out.

At the dot of 8 AM, Davy knocked on my motel door in Bull Shoals, Arkansas, very politely introduced himself, and we piled into his truck for a 15 minute drive to a put-in spot on the White River, just below Bull Shoals Dam. He introduced me to his style of nymphing and we motored off to start our first drift in his 21-foot , flat-bottomed White River John boat powered by a 15 hp motor. Davy provided all of the equipment – he likes long rods for more control of the flies in nymphing – for dead-drifting midge patterns he outfitted me with a 3 wt 10 foot Grey’s Streamflex fly rod with matching reel and a supple and slick, white Snowbee weight forward floating line. He customizes his long leaders according to conditions knotting together sections of clear limp Amnesia mono using three-times-through Surgeon’s Knots, with tippet of bulk 4-lb P-line Halo fluorocarbon. Davy is a well-known fly tyer and set me up with two of his favorite midge patterns, one tied in on a short 5 inch dropper about a foot above the point fly. The flies are tied on with the simple Davy Knot. Forget about the formula for setting the indicator at 1.5 to 2 times the depth of the water. Davy stresses that you have to adapt to conditions – rate of water release from Bull Shoals dam and water clarity, sun, barometric pressure, and depth of the actively feeding fish. If needed 1 or more small split shot are spaced out along the leader just below a small orange corkie indicator.

Davy explains clearly how to rig the flies but also very importantly why he rigs them as he does. After a short demonstration – during which he caught a trout of course – it was my turn. On my second cast, I caught a bright rainbow, the first of more than 180 rainbows and browns for the trip. From 9:45 until about noon, I caught from 35-40 trout and lost many others. Quite frankly, I was worn out from all the catching! But the next part of the day was magic – Davy and I moved down river for wade fishing, to explore the world of fishing the traditional wet fly. I had done my homework and had viewed Davy’s recent DVDs on tying and fishing the wet fly [the DVDs Wet Fly Tying and Wet Fly Ways are in the GSF video library], but the one on one sessions gave me valuable on the water experience.

In Davy’s version of wet fly fishing, a “brace” of 3 flies is set up about 25-30 inches from each other, with the top 2 flies on 5 inch droppers above a point fly. The flies are traditional winged wet flies and soft hackles. Davy has been fly fishing since the 1950s, when he first fished small streams in his small town in Wales, and is a student of the history of fly fishing in Britain and the United States. As a consequence, he uses many of the traditional age-old tried and true patterns including the Alexandra, Greenwell’s Glory, Peter Ross, Invicta and Silver Invicta, Ginger Quill, Bibio, and Whickhams Fancy as well as many other patterns including those of his own design.

For our afternoon wading sessions, Davy outfitted me with a 4 weight 11 foot Grey’s Streamfliex fly rod for better control of the flies. Davy showed me how to manipulate the flies using the left hand to make them pulsate and move as if they were alive. We used a variety of retrieves including the figure-8, staccato strips, and others. It was very much like puppeteering – moving the flies to entice the trout with both hands. Davy believes that traditional wet fly fishing is one of the most effective means for fly fishing for trout but that it is vastly underappreciated.

There were several aspects that stood out for me during our fishing sessions. Davy is very generous with information – he does not hold anything back. He keeps it simple. The emphasis is on presentation of the flies. He does not carry a lot of gadgets, nor even a net while wading, and does not wear a fishing vest (except in his DVDs). He does not wear expensive polarized glasses opting instead for drug store models that he can lose without pain. He uses small fine pointed “iris” scissors instead of nippers, for cleaner cuts and for opening “wind knots”; he inserts the fine points into the knots and then opens the scissors to undo the knots – genius! Davy ties knots quickly and stresses that “one size fits all” does not apply to leaders. He fine tunes leaders as conditions dictate – longer, shorter, nylon for fishing near the surface, fluorocarbon for fishing deeper. Just as a golfer needs a bag full of different clubs, a fly fisherman needs different leaders to effectively fish different water. Above all else, Davy is very observant – watching the river as he rigs up and explains methods – and he is methodical. He fishes slowly, starts fishing close, then works to longer distances.

I could go on and on, but you really need to fish with Davy to experience it all first hand. I really enjoyed my 5 days with Davy – he is quiet on first meeting but a real joy to get to know as he opens up. Each evening, we shared a few beers in his home. His friend Teresa is a very accomplished professional fly tyer, working long fingernails to her advantage, and a great cook – her chili is almost as good as mine! I look forward to a second visit to Flippin next November to continue my education under the patient guiding hand of the White River Fish Whisperer.

If You Go

I booked a flight into Little Rock, AR via Denver, and drove 3.5 hours north to Bull Shoals. The Fayetteville, AR airport is about 1 hour closer to Bull Shoals, but the flight is about $200 more. I stayed at the Brass Door Inn in Bull Shoals, with a view of the lake, for $50 per night, and ate breakfast across the street at Connie’s Cafe, and dinner at the Village Wheel Restaurant and the 178 Club. Davy supplied all fly fishing equipment. Sharing the motel, rental car, and guide fees for Davy with a buddy would help to cut costs.

More About Davy Wotton (adapted from bio by Teresa Van Winkle)

In fly fishing, it looks like Davy has done it all and done it all very well – professional fly tyer, trout and salmon guide, knot inventor, contract fly designer, fly fishing products company owner, product developer, industry consultant, technical director at Partridge Hook Company, tournament caster and fly fisher, fisheries consultant, U.S. Youth Fly Fishing team coach, conservationist, video host and producer, magazine article author, fly fishing history aficionado, fly fishing school director, and generous member of fly fishing bulletin boards.

Davy was born in Cwmbran, Wales close to the River Usk, famous brown trout and Atlantic Salmon water that was fished by greats Skues, Halford, Kite, Kelson and many others.

As a kid in the 1950s, Davy invented the famous Davy Knot as the only way he could figure to tie a hook to a line.

Davy’s professional career began in the 1960s as a fly tyer in Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom. In the 1970s, he began to develop and manufacture fly tying and fly fishing products and started a mail order business. In the 1980s he moved to Wales, built a large factory and connected distribution of European, UK and US markets. He is known for the famed SLF Dubbing Blend Series with custom blends that he developed for Dave Whitlock, Paul Jorgenson, Oliver Edwards and others; he sold this business to Wapsi Fly Company in 2001.

Davy won tournament fly and surf casting competitions in distance and accuracy in the UK, as well as many national and international fly fishing competitions, and served as the International Team Coach of the Youth Team USA which won gold and silver medals.

He wrote articles for fly fishing publications and worked as a trout and salmon guide. Davy served as a consultant for fly fishing manufacturers and a contract fly designer. He worked for Fly Fish TV and has produced How To fly fishing and fly tying DVDs.

Over the years, Davy fished often in the US, and eventually moved from Wales to the US in the 1990s. Good friend Dave Whitlock introduced him to the White River system where he now lives, guides, and manages the American International School of Fly Fishing.

Davy has a soft spot for bluegrass music and along the way worked as a professional bluegrass musician playing both the banjo and guitar. (As Brad found, Davy has a soft spot for animals too, with a large aviary, cats, dogs and many other animals at his home in Flippin, AR. Davy ties with a parrot (cockatoo?) on his shoulder in an instructional video or two but we’re guessing he leaves its hackles intact.

Davy has served on fisheries organizations as a member and/or officer of many organizations focused on fisheries management, fly fishing education, and conservation including Friends of the Norfolk Fish Hatchery, FFF, TU, APGAI, STANIC, NAC, AOGA, FWNR and NAFF. In 2008, he received an award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region, for outstanding service toward fisheries and conservation.

More information on Davy can be found at In addition, Davy has produced many DVDs explaining his techniques including Wet Fly Ways, Wet Fly Tying [both in the GSF video library], Midge Magic – Fishing and Tying, Arkansas’s White River with Davy Wotton, Wotton’s Top Ties, and Fly Tying Fundamentals with Davy Wotton

* For more on Golden State Fly Fishers go to:

In the Mailbox-From: Dave

Good morning Davy.
Last night I watched the midge fishing DVD and I must say that it was both very informative and entertaining.
And it  is something that I will watch  several times over.
I was especially intrigued with your leader set up. I build my own leaders as well… I don’t believe I have ever read a leader formula like that… But being very memory free I can see the advantages.
I have always been aware that fly line and  leader casts a shadow and can spook fish but to actually see it and with 6x was an eye opener. It is something I will definitely keep in mind next  time I am on the water.
Take care and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and  yours.
(posted on December 14th, 2012-TBird)


Give Davy a big thumbs up for me on the new DVD!! It is AWESOME!!! I thought I knew how to fish midges, but boy did I learn some great tips! Can’t wait to fish with you guys sometime


Outstanding!!! The explanation of techniques will be incredibly
valuable to me. Most videos just rush though tying a particular fly and
do not go into technique explanations. Thank you so much for your time
and efforts!!! I believe I will be on my way to doing some decent tying
now thanks to your help.

Thanks again!
Doug Kiefer

I spent three days with Davy Wotton in Arkansas for the express purpose of learning wet fly fishing. Having fished for a decade or so with a clumsy cast and a rudimentary knowledge of fly fishing, I was unprepared for what I saw. It was the experience of a lifetime. I discovered that I cannot cast, at all. When I saw the economy of motion, the smooth accuracy and the effortless distance of Davy’s cast, I was ready to pack up and go home to learn the basics. Luckily for me, Davy showed incredible patience with my incessant tangling of the wet fly casts. His patience in this matter qualifies him for sainthood, in my opinion. His casting tips to me have already made a big difference in my cast. I have much work to do. My memory of Davy’s cast give me a great mental “target” for my practice. Davy is without a doubt the finest fisherman I have ever seen or will ever see, for that matter. His skill is astounding. Because of his cogent explanations and tremendous demonstrations, I learned a ton about wet fly fishing, including multiple different presentations of wet flies and approaches to varying water situations, a fantastically elegant and adaptable rigging technique which is also quite economical, and a glimpse into a master’s thought processes. There is enough material in what I saw in those three days to keep me busy learning for the next decade or more. I know we didn’t even scratch the surface of what Davy has to teach. Someone with more skill could learn so much more. For me, it was a tremendous step forward in fly fishing. Added to the incredible value of the fly fishing instruction, was the gracious hospitality and scintillating conversation which characterize a visit with Davy and T-bird. Davy’s stories provided a window into a lifetime of immersion in fly fishing at the highest level. If he doesn’t write a book about his life in fly fishing, the world will miss out on a great read. My time in Arkansas was unforgettable. Davy, thank you so much!! When I think of what I have spent on a new rod here or there, or on travel to fishing destinations, the guided instruction with Davy is far and away the best value I have found in all of fly fishing. I wish I had done it years ago, just as I wish I had learned to cast well the first time. Davy, as soon as I have a basic cast mastered, I will be back for more teaching!

Boris Karaman

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