Our Man In Canada
June 20th, 2005

A Fly Tying Story - Why We Tie
By Chris Chin

If you've been following my antics over the past few weeks up here in Quebec,... you know we had a run of major forest fires. Working out the bugs for the salvage plans, integrating the recommendations of the parliamentary committee on resource allocation, settling a few land claims and generally burning the candle at both ends,...I wasn't surprised the other night when I woke up at 3 o'clock and couldn't sleep.

I foraged around in the fridge for a while and decided I really wasn't hungry. I decided to quietly sneak into the tying room in the basement...Good idea, but which flies to tye, bleary eyed at 03h30?

Sitting at the bench, I realize I better not try anything new or complicated (well,...that's what I'll usually tye anyway). May as well do some old stand by's that I'll need next week with the family.

I line up the ingredients for a no-name abortion of a woolly bugger meets Godzilla. As I mechanically tye up the first few, I'm not really thinking about the actual tying,... I'm drawn back 7-8 years to the #27 pool on my home waters where I first saw this fly.

André Jordan was a long time Guide on those waters,...his father being a Warden for most of his life in the same valley. I'd fished and shared smokes with André for a few years, ...he just never seemed to really open up before that day.

I cast some (relatively) small dries out into the seam; André was deep wading in the run. As I was watching his line control more than my own fly, I spooled up and had a seat on the gravel bar to take mental notes. Every third or fourth cast he was short striking a lunker trout (picking up BEFORE the trout could take the fly). I watched in amazement as he fished for 5 or 10 minutes.

The water was pretty cold and he came out of the pool shortly and settled in beside me for a smoke. I passed the fixin's over to him and he rolled up some Drum. He passed the tobacco pouch back to me then did something he'd never done before. André rummaged around in the oversized pockets of his coat, pulled out his "special" fly box,...his go-to flies for clients, and laid it open on the gravel between us.

One by one he pulled out a fly, some of them tied by his father, others by him and modified over the years. For each, he explained when, where and how to fish it. 30 years of experience on the same river, condensed into 3 hours of lecture sitting on a gravel bar.

We stopped our impromptu guide's course as the sun was going behind the mountains. André said I would remember the form, color and size of each fly for each pool, water level, time of year and quarry so he would only give me one. Funny, .. the example he gave to me is actually the easiest to tie. He said it didn't have a name.

I'm still looking for a name.

Sitting at the bench, the sun is coming up. There's a pile of "no-name" flies waiting for a drop of epoxy. André Jordan left the river after that season and never came back. I had some news a few years ago, but nothing solid.

Looking back, I believe he spent the time that day with me as he knew the river would be looking for new Guides; he was the very last of the old school. Whatever the reason, I'm still trying to master or understand half of what he taught me that afternoon.

As I wonder where he is, I have flashes of many who've contributed to my understanding of this sport, an old high school biology professor, Brian Chan, hordes of Game Wardens, some guy on pool in Gaspé, the young kid on another river asking so many questions, I realized I didn't have the answers,...And of course,...the gang at FAOL (LF, RW, JC, MM, Nate, Brian, Di,...

Next weekend, I continue on with my Vincent. I guess it's a part of the tradition that makes this sport so wonderful.

Tight Lines. ~ Christopher Chin – Jonquiere Quebec

About Chris:

Chris Chin is originally from Kamloops, British Columbia. He has been fly fishing on and off ever since he was 10 years old. Chris became serious about the sport within the last 10 years.

"I'm a forest engineer by day and part time guide on the Ste-Marguerite River here in central Quebec. I've been fishing this river for about 10 years now and started guiding about 5 years ago when the local guide's association sort of stopped functioning."

Chris guides mostly for sea run brook trout and about 30% of the time for Atlantic Salmon. "I often don't even charge service fees, as I'm more interested in promoting the river than making cash. I like to get new comers to realize that salmon fishing is REALLY for anyone who cares to try it. Tradition around here makes some of the old clan see Salmon fishing as a sport for the rich. Today our shore lunches are less on the cucumber sandwich side and more toward chicken pot pie and Jack Daniel's."

Chris is 42 years old as of this writing. He is of Chinese origin although his parents were born and raised in Jamaica. He has a girlfriend, Renée. "She and her 12 year old son Vincent started fly fishing with me last October 2002."

To learn more about the Ste-Marguerite River, visit Christopher's website http://pages.videotron.com/fcch/. ~ Christopher Chin

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