Five minutes with Muz Wilson - the River Gnome

Peter Hayes
Muz Wilson is perhaps Australia's best know fly tier and more importantly he is one of the most innovative fly designers on the planet.
Recently while Muz was visiting Tasmania and participating at a fly fishing workshop at our Cressy facility Mike Stevens was able to identify the importance of this man and his contribution to fly fishing. Mike has asked me to pen a few words about this remarkable individual.

In the industry and among his friends they call him the "River Gnome." Muz looks, and behaves like I would imagine one to behave. Anyway he certainly has my children convinced.
One evening late in the season there were six good anglers fishing on Brumbys Creek. The fishing was slow. We all returned to the lodge just after dark and someone who had not gone out asked how we went.
My 7 year old son Lachlan immediately replied that the River Gnome was the only one to catch one. Lachie said it with such conviction that his 5 YO sister Maddie followed on with "yeah he caught it on his Fuzzle Fly and he lost 4 others'. They really believe he is a gnome.
Muz knows fish, I mean really knows fish and there is much we can learn from hanging out with him. That evening was a good example. I think he had  a total of 7 fish come to his fly while the remaining 5 anglers had 1. I personally don't think it was as much about the fly as his method of fishing it. Muz explained to me and the kids that you must do a musical tune retrieve. I can tell you he is right and more about the tunes later.
As I understand it my mate Nick Voce taught Muz to tie flies some 20 years back. Nick met him in a tackle store at Camperdown and struck up what has turned out to be a lifelong friendship. His fishing skills were originally honed in Victorian waterways and he probably knows more about catching bream on fly than anyone else in the country.  
Muz is an intelligent little gnome. He is educated and has many life experiences. Most obvious to me is his passion for fishing and all things related, his generous spirit and his lateral thinking skills. It is a combination of these assets that have enabled him to be a leading edge fly designer.
Muz played with hooks and feathers, and everything else he could get his hands on, for three days at Cressy. I really mean he played, it is play to Muz nothing more, nothing less. I was in awe of his technical tying skills. I lost count of the number of original patterns he has developed and his uncanny ability to develop new tying techniques for obscure materials is amazing. If you ever get a chance to see the Gnome at play you should seize it.
Some of the developments he is responsible for that spring to mind are:
Development of the SLF material and the BMS fly
Rolling furs and other materials in see through waterproof tape to make Damsel and stick caddis bodies.
Taking the UK based booby pattern and turning it into a yabbie for mainland Australian lakes.
Developing the Fuzzle Bugger which in my opinion is a huge improvement on what was considered one of the world's greatest flies a Woolly Bugger.
Upside down minnows that are snag proof and the Hammerhead bream flies.
There is a new upside down foam and cdc dun that is revolutionary and I know it will sort out thousands of Highland mayfly feeding trout next season.
Keep an eye out for Muz, his fly patterns and his tying materials. There is much to learn from him.

All time favorite fly:
Stick Caddis, because of the memorable fish it has caught and the type of fishing it is used for-ambushing or hunting-setting a trap and watching it unfold.

If you only had one day left to fish:
Mongolia, to catch Taimen. They are 6 foot long fish that eat dry flies in rivers.

Most inspirational angler:
Blimey ! Ohhh ! A really tough question.
I like reading Geirach and Randall Kauffman for stuff he has done. Wulff is the pioneer of everything. Morse and Weigall. Bill Beck is an absolute vulture and Jim Allen would be another inspiration. What I like about Jim is he is not too technical-just get it out there. David Scholes-I can relate to stuff about Northern Tasmania rivers and flood plain fishing like here in Western Victoria.

First fish:  
On a fly-a little rainbow out of Bullen Merri on a Black Matuka.
First memorable fish was a one kilo brown from the Hopkins River, sneaking along, working pools with a very small Red and Black Matuka on 12 hook. I had bought it from Ray Long in Geelong

Peter Hayes

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