Sunday, February 21, 2010

You've got to crawl before you can walk

©2010 Joshua Stark

I haven't tied flies in a long time.

I have a great setup: a perfectly functional kitchen spice desk, a good vice, enough materials for what I need, and enough hooks. Heck, my wife even let me put it all in the living room (don't you wish your girlfriend was swass like her?). But, until this week, I hadn't tied a fly in over two years, maybe even three.

Sometimes, life gets you going on other things, and the things you'd once felt so important doing get put aside. For me, tying was the victim of moving, getting laid off, family loss, but also new happy things like raising my (now) three-year-old, raising ducks for the first time, hunting ducks a lot more, and blogging.

But, as any fly fisherman who has trimmed every Chrismas tree and willow along their favorite stream knows, at some point you open your fly box and grimace. All that remains are those flies you bought because the guy at the shop said they were all hitting that new flashy fly that more closely resembles an 80's girl's lip gloss than any living thing, and flies you tied, spent maybe an hour on, and didn't have the heart to just cut all that lumpy, fluffy crap off and start over.

I'm not original when I say that every cast in fly fishing is like a prayer, and do you really want to pray with profanity? So, you beg flies from your pal on the river that day (usually my wife), and you make a mental note that you need to tie more flies (especially because you supply your pal, and you don't want to ruin your own fishing).

Also, I enjoy tying flies, and hunting and raising ducks have provided me with some great, beautiful feathers. But, having been out of practice so long, I was concerned with what I would come up with, and so I didn't start with a cinnamon teal-and-snipe salmon fly, but instead broke out my book, and went back to basics. I'm glad I did, not because I was so bad, but because it provided a refresher for the techniques and routines.

I'm also happy to report that I still enjoy it. It's a good, simple, calm hobby that lets me still interact with family, and when it's done right, we get to eat fish.


The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Fly trying looks so satisfying. I've gotta give it a go one of these days.

Josh said...

Oh, you really should try it. It's fairly cheap to get started, and don't believe the salesman. Tell him you want a Crown vise, and depending on what kind of fishing you do, ask him for the half-dozen or so most common materials for those species/conditions. For 90% of your fishing needs, you can get away with black thread 6/0, peacock hurl, grizzly and brown dry fly hackle, copper wire, and rabbit-fur dubbing.

When you get your elk, you will be very happy with what you can do with the hair. (By elk, do you mean Alces alces, Cervus canadensis, or Cervus elaphus?)

Bpaul said...

I don't recognize the pattern, but I do recognize some of the 'magic' fly tying materials, namely pheasant tail and peacock herl.


Josh said...

BPaul, you got it! That is a pheasant tail nymph in the making. All I have to do is clip off the hurl, fold over the pheasant tail fibers, and tie them down.


Bpaul said...

Now see, I thought you might be adapting that pattern into an emerger with legs or something.

That's one of my best producing flies up here in the pacific N.W. The smaller the better it seems sometimes.

Below #18, I forego the shellback on the thorax. Seems unnecessarily delicate and pain-in-the-buttish to tie in those sizes.


Josh said...

Great idea, BPaul - it sounds like a brassie, but w/ PT fibers instead of copper wire. Interesting.

Don't tell Hank and Holly, but the PT nymph is my killer secret dropper for shad.

Bpaul said...

been wanting fish, eat, preserve, smoke shad for a while now. Just haven't gotten down south (oregon) to hit the run yet. I will tho, can't wait.