January 24th, 2005

Tying Flies
By James Castwell


There are probably as many ways to tie flies as there are guys who tie them. Sooner or later it seems like most of us give it a try. An old fishing buddy of mine used to say, "Flies? Some tie 'em, some zip 'em, some swat 'em. Me? I just pull those little tiny wings off and call 'em 'walks.'" But, nevertheless there are many ways to get thread and stuff to stick to a hook.

Over half a century ago, when Helen Shaw was just a child, I started each fly by always putting glue (head-cement) on the hook first, even before the thread. Then started the thread and covered it with some more. Good grief, I was constructing my flies, not tying them. But, so it was and often still is. I have my little habits, small things that I can't seem to change or get rid of.

How about you? Have you developed some pet habits yet, a few certain things you do when tying? Run your bodkin thru a green scrungie to make sure it is clean before you start each tying session? Wash your hands well? Do a few simple exercises with your fingers to get them limbered up? Or do you go through a whole series like a baseball batter? No matter, you have the idea; I think we all have a few.

Now that we have those out of the way let's take a look at a few other things connected to tying flies. Do you have a set time to tie. Almost everyday you find a certain time to sit and relax at the bench; everything in its place, nice and orderly and efficient? A lunch hour perhaps, maybe after dinner, or just on Sunday evenings, Your time, yours alone.

Then again, you may be a bit disorganized. Like me sometimes, tying like crazy the night before. It doesn't matter if it is a impromptu trip or one I have planned for months. The night before, there I am, cranking out a few more flies. Somehow I seem to make it. Not always with all the flies I think I should have but manage to catch a few fish anyhow. I must like it this way as I have been doing this for years.

How about numbers. Are you one who needs hundreds, no, make that thousands of flies, just in case? Or worse yet, you actually know what you are doing and really do need that many in all those different sizes and colors and shapes? Yikes, glad I don't have to wear your fly vest on a hot day, or any day for that matter. I bet you have one of those 'chests-of-drawers' you wear like a brasserie, right?

When you are tying, what is important to you? I mean, how many in an hour you can crank out? Or are you very, very fussy on each fly. Quality or quantity, or neither one? Ever take a razor blade to one half finished and start over on the hook again? I think somewhere in between is where you might find me. Tie a few, never enough. Like to try to tie at least a certain number sometimes though, often it is a dozen but for no good reason whatsoever. I do try to pay at least some attention to how the things look, especially my streamers. Fish under water get a good look at them and can be a bit on the particular side about how they look.

So, now, do I have you examining some of the things that occur when you are at home tying flies. Are you analyzing your approach to your craft? Good, you should do that; I think we all should.

How about on the stream? Are the same things important to you then? Like how many you catch? How fast? How far away you can cast and catch a fish? What of quality or is it quantity? How well you either 'play' the fish, or 'fight' the fish? When you have a fish on the line, do you bring it in as fast as possible so you can get your fly back out and get another one, or is it so you can release the fish as soon as possible? Is it alright to bring the fish in somewhat slower and not cause it to go ballistic fighting for it's life and by so doing not tire it out as much as a violent but short fight? Would that be better for the fish? How do you know?

Is there any place in fly-fishing for ethics? Do you have some ethics that determine your actions on the stream and how you flyfish? If so, do you know exactly what they are? Are you sure? ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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