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,
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
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