How does a humble fly tier, from a small town on the west coast of Scotland, become a worldwide fly tying phenomenon?


Davie McPhail is well-known in Europe as a skilled tier of Spey and Dee salmon flies and author of articles for UK fly fishing magazines. He has produced over 40 articles for Trout and Salmon magazine, and recently had an article published in Trout Fisherman.


But lots of tiers are recognized in Europe, and invisible elsewhere. McPhail was one of the first tiers to recognize and start to explore the potential of YouTube as a marketing vehicle.


If you click the link to Davie McPhail’s YouTube channel, several things jump out. Lots of beautifully tied flies, nearly 300 tying videos added since 2009, and approaching 4 million views of McPhail’s collection.


McPhail continues to add one or two videos weekly. You can subscribe to the channel and get an email when each new video is uploaded.


You would have to look far and wide to find any other individual who has leveraged the power and reach of YouTube. And that’s not for fly tying, but for any topic.

Google’s purchase of YouTube in 2006 set the stage for generating advertising revenue. The Google ad program returns a modest payment for each viewed video displaying an ad. With the scale that McPhail is mounting, that will eventually, if not already, amount to a significant hard-earned income.


In the comment section below each video, Davie maintains a frequent presence, answering questions, giving tips, and responding to comments. That also is (most) unusual and commendable.


The other side of the coin of this public presence, is McPhail’s desire for a private life. Little is available anywhere to give you some insights into his life or personality. Valuable to other tiers would be his insights about fly tying. What it is about creating new patterns that makes it all work for him, personally?


In the YouTube comments, people are hungry for some information about McPhail, himself. Brilliance, like he exhibits, does not fall from the sky fully formed. Experiences, influences, mentors and milestones would be valuable guidance to developing fly tiers everywhere.


The only interview of McPhail available on the Web is in John McClain’s FeathersMC web site linked below. It’s a worthwhile read.

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