The results are in and the prizes will soon be
on their way to the lucky winners of this, the
first FAOL Atlantic Salmon & Steelhead tying contest.
The number of flies entered and the quality was
high in our estimation. We learned quite a few
things during the contest and will make a few
changes the next time that we feel will be to
the advantage of the Tyers who enter.
The reason we started talking about doing a tying
contest over two years ago, was to provide yet one
more way for our readers to participate in the
website and showcase their handiwork. We also
recognize that by putting one's work up against
others, it will promote individual growth of one's
skills. Of course, being one of the winners is good
for the ego too but that will fade with time whereas
the skills will endure.
Another goal of the contest was to give readers
a venue for voicing their opinion and in a very
real way, help to determine the eventual winners.
Of course, all of this voting either by the readers
or the judge of the technical aspects of the flies
is rather subjective regardless how dispassionate
we try to be. Much of the opinion rests on somewhat
fluid opinions of what things such as ribbing, floss
work, wing shape and size and so on should be. None
of the flies received the full potential of 100 points
nor do I expect any fly by anyone could, myself included.
We all improve with every fly we tie and that is much
of the challenge of this craft.
We all look at flies with our individual biases and
these are based on our knowledge of the craft. The
technical aspects of the flies are little known by
a non Tyer. He/she will see the fly's colors and
overall shape. Do the colors clash or is the shape
unappealing. These are opinions that are relatively
easy. Are the parts of the fly in proportion to each
other, is the hook too big or small, are there lumps
where there ought not be? These are things that Tyers
can judge out of their experiences at the vise.
Even Tyers of standard types of flies may not realize
the importance of some of the technical skills such
as even ribs, flat floss, correctly attached veils,
smooth, small heads and other such things that are
typically found on the fully dressed flies. These
are areas that we look at and measure against our
experience as Tyers. I tell Tyer's new to tying
full dressed flies that the knowledge learned will
make them better overall Tyer's. They will also
notice completely different things on a fly than
one who has never tried tying fully dressed flies.
I've not been proved wrong on these points yet.
When judging the technical aspects of the flies,
fractions of points separated many of the flies.
Some of the simpler flies were elevated in their
standings by the Reader's Choice points and some
helped by the creativity part.
Some things to keep in mind when tying fully dressed
flies are addressed in depth in the Atlantic Tying
section here at FAOL. Here are a few basic things
Some of these points can also be used in other styles
- Keep lumps under areas that will have floss
over them at a minimum. Every tiny uneven area will
show up like a beacon.
- Keep ribs tight and even. If you want a tapered
look to the ribs that is different. I mean even like
this. //// or tapered like this // / / . Not like
this // / //.
- Keep wings fairly low and not too big. There are
no real rules to govern size but look critically at
the hook size in relation to the wing as you tie the
- Keep control over the number of turns of thread
and the size of the head. Typically, relatively small
bluntish heads are most pleasing on a full dressed
fly. A long head such as is typical on a Rangeley
style streamer looks out of place on a full dressed
fly. Keep the head SMOOTH too! Put more than one coat
of head cement on it to fill the irregularities. It
makes little sense to spend many hours tying a fly
only to take a shortcut on the head. The head and
floss are two of the first things we look at on
- Try not to crowd too many parts on a fly. If
you are trying to tie a fly with a three section
body, a size 2 hook may be too small. If you are
using a small hook and want these parts on them,
use smaller tinsels and fine, short herled Ostrich
butts and joints. Two ribs of medium tinsel will
look off whereas three of fine will look more
- Check the toppings to make sure they have
the tips on them. You cannot take the tip out of
a topping to shorten it! If you must shorten a
topping, do it at the butt and not the tip.
- Generally, one wants the tip of the tail
and topping to meet at the tip of the wing. This
is not a hard and fast rule but is traditional.
Certainly, a fly can have these tips not converge
and still look very good. Just keep it in mind as
you plan out the fly.
We hope you all had fun with this contest and that
you will enter the next one even if you didn't
enter this one. We will be posting info later in
the year for the second contest so, stay tuned!
For any of the entrants who would like my input on
their flies and how they might improve them for next
year, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at
503-654-0466. I am more than willing to help in any
way that I can.
Ronn Lucas, Sr.
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