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Fun With Swaps

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

Had some time today so I started looking through some boxes I had swap flies in. I figured out I have been in about 75 swaps so far. That makes about 15 swaps a year for every year I have been tying. It is a great way to see new patterns and see how other folks do things.

Ran onto patterns I did not remember having. It was fun also to see how my tying had improved a little. It was also fun to see all the names that came up in the boxes on the tagged flies. I may have to keep some of them out and get into a frame of some sort as they surely will be famous some day.

Also saw how far behind I was on cataloguing the flies. I am putting each fly and the pattern on one sheet of typing paper and putting them in plastic sheet protectors. This way I can divide the flies up into different types and by having the fly name at the top of the sheet I can keep them alphabetical to make it easier to find. I found some 4" ring binders on sale so I have plenty of room to put them in, I just need to get it done.

It was fun to see the innovative ideas that different tiers have come up with, remembering that one of my favorite beetle patterns came in a swap. Tie on foam that you have cut for a beetle-shaped body but wrap the shank with ice chenille before you pull the foam over to tie in at the head. I have these tied in several colors and have caught a ton of bluegills and some nice bass on this pattern. I have also lost several flies to large bass that hit this fly and then took me into any type of obstruction that could break the leader. But you can't catch them if you don't hook them.

It was fun to read a few of the letters I got from other people who were in swaps. One of the best was from the first swap I was in that I tried to dub a body. This tier wrote me a letter and included one of the first flies that he had ever dubbed. He suggested two things to me that I have tried to do. First was to save a few of the flies that I tied each year just to see how my tying has changed and improved (there are questions about any improvement). His other sage words of advice for me, were to take the dubbing I was going to use on the fly and divide it in half. Take half that and divide it in half again. I should then take 1/3 of that to use on the fly. Do you get the idea that the flies were the size and shape of a dog poop? What impressed me again was that this was not criticism but encouragement to improve my tying skills.

One thing that I did not do at the start that I have tried to do in the past few years is to mark who sent extra flies to me while I was the Swapmeister. This is not something that I asked to be done but several people have done it. Got some nice flies in but I don't remember who tied them.

I always, my personal agenda, try to send a couple of other flies to the Swapmeister. This is just a thanks for the work that they do in organizing and running a swap. I have not joined in three swaps where part of the "rules" were to send a couple of extra flies for the Swapmeister.

I would encourage you to join in a swap if you have not. They are fun and you learn a lot. You can join swaps at more places than I can tell you without missing some of them. Lots here on FAOL, check the Bulletin Board listing for Fly Swaps.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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