Al Campbell, Field Editor

June 28th, 2004

Fly Tier Gone Wild
Charlie Place

Publisher's Note: Al is taking a couple of weeks off - a well deserved holiday from his weekly column. We think you will enjoy Charlie!

I've decided that I have too much stuff and have been spending too much time looking through feathers, tails, dubbing and such and not enough time actually tying bugs. So I've been trying to keep my collection of tying materials down to a half of a closetful. Some of my material boxes haven't been opened in months, because, well, they are behind the other boxes that haven't been opened for a while either. Anyway, when I do get in the back of the feather closet, it turns out to be more of a treasure hunt than a bug tying session. I usually discover things that I don't remember buying, like my most recent find of six blue bucktails. What is anyone going to do with six blue bucktails? It's a good thing I found six packs of blue saddle hackles to go with the bucktails. I also found one large package of mallard flank, dyed blue. I bought that to go with the saddles, I guess. I know that I must have had something in mind when I bought all the blue material. I just wish I could remember what it was though.

Anyway, when you really think about it, all that tying stuff in the feather closet isn't doing you much good unless it's on a fish hook, is it? So, I decided to clean house, so to speak. I went through everything, box by box, Zip Loc bag by Zip Loc bag and culled all of the stuff that I hadn't used or seen in a long time. And parted with some of the things that I had way too much of, like rabbit dubbing. I mean could it be possible that there are that many bunny rabbits out there running around naked? I refuse to take responsibility for the scarcity of blue deer though, because after all I only have six of their tails. Well, actually seven because I have a spare bucktail box and a working bucktail box. I found another blue bucktail in the working box. Okay then. I'll take part of the blame for blue but not the pink deer because I only have one pink bucktail. And well, there is that sort of ruby-colored bucktail that I liked a lot, but the fish didn't. I don't even want to think about the chickens. But I will say that when I was a kid I didn't realize that chickens came in so many different colors.

I gave all the usable stuff to a friend that spends the bulk of his money on college tuition. The lousy stuff or you could say the stuff that I stored because thought that I might use some day, I tossed. It doesn't do any good to give it away because even though it's free, it's still lousy and may actually be discouraging to a new fly tier. While I was at it, I put most of the material in clear plastic storage boxes so that I can actually see what's in them before I open them. That saves me time, which seems to be at a premium lately.

Now this is not to say that when I see a bargain or some really neat fly tying material that I don't buy it. Last week I found some extra long Craft Fur in a bargain bin at a fly shop so I bought three packages, one tan, one cream and one brown. I brought it home and added it to the other packages of tan, cream and brown extra long Craft Fur that I have. I purchased it because, as you know, extra long anything is not easy to find, and you never know when you might want to tie up a bazillion bay anchovy imitations. There was a spool of bright orange, flat waxed nylon thread in the 'good buy' tub that just kept calling to me too. I figured that I didn't have that color, and for a change I was right. I didn't. However, now I only have one spool, so I better get a spare.

I'm now almost down to a half closetful. This is good, because I was fishing stripers with Jerry the other day and he was using an experimental fly that the stripers couldn't resist. It had so much flash on it that he jokingly called it the Christmas tree fly. In any event, I don't have the flash that Jerry used on his new fly. I looked through my red bucktails too and I don't have the exact shade of red that he used to tie the festive fly with either. Nor do I have the hook he used. Well anyway, I figure now that I've "cleaned house" I have room for some new stuff. ~ Charlie

About Charlie:

Besides hosting the FAOL Chatroom on Tuesday nights, Charlie Place writes a monthly fly fishing column called "On The Fly" for On The Water magazine which covers fresh and salt water fishing in New England. In February 2004 Charlie's column won The New England Outdoor Writers Associations 2004 writing award; Best column in a magazine. Often his stories are about fishing with Ernie Boutiette and Jerry Wade his two best fishing buddies.

Previous Al Campell Columns

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