There is something you can do that will enhance your skills and is also a lot of fun. Join parnelli's beginner fly swap. Even though I have been a tyer for quite a while, I always struggled with the smaller stuff, esp drys in the 16 to 18 size. So I joined this swap last year and it really enhanced my enjoyment of tying. Steve had lots of advice and tips, one example that comes to mind was a parachute jig using a rubber band and hackle pliers that really made things ez. Join this swap and pick patterns that will challenge you. Steve will help you along the way and will inspect your flies and give you feedback on areas to improve. He even took the time to call me with dubbing info I was asking about. And he does all this for FREE. All you guests who visit this site and have not joined FAOL, join the site (also free) and then join this swap. This is the single move you can take to improve your tying and increase the fun you will have, and did I mention it is free???? Here is a sample of what will happen if you join this swap:
1. Steve sends you a CD of all the FAOL patterns. You can search this by pattern name, tyer, etc. It is like having an extensive reference at your fingertips giving you instant access to all these patterns. Much faster and better than trying to sort thru google results. Much easier that using the FAOL search. He also sends you hackle gauges and lots of other reference materials and CD's. We all hope FAOL will be around for us to reference forever. But what lasts forever? If you could no longer access this site wouldnt it be nice to have this CD?
2. Steve supplies all the boxes, toe tags, address labels...... All you have to do is apply the postage. Where else can you get a fly tying course for a couple bucks?
3. You will receive flies you have never tried, and some of these will become your favorites. Two that stick out in my mind is a claret soft hackle that stocker bows ate like bait, and a nymph my local native brookies loved, the yallerhammer. You will also see materials you have never used that will become new favorites.
4. Forcing yourself to tie 12 flies of the same pattern that are of a quality you are comfortable giving to someone will improve your tying. When else will you tie a dozen flies of the same pattern? My attention span allows me to do 3 or 4 then I change flies. The repetition will make your tying better.
5. Its only 5 swaps, and he takes December off. So its not a lot of work. And when you get your flies and get to sort thru them all it is a lot of fun. I really started looking forward to seeing the new flies.
6. The other swappers are more than happy to share sources of material and techniques. See a fly you like? Zip them a PM and get the info from the tier themselves. It creates an instant tying network for you.
There is not a better deal anywhere. Do yourself a favor, join the swap before Steve comes to his senses and stops doing all this work and spending all this money!! It really is quite a selfless service Steve provides. He is one of the many great folks on this site. Take him up on his offer.