Part Twenty-five

Practice Makes Perfect
By George E. Emanuel

"Gee, my flies don't look as good as yours. Last night I tied a Wooley Bugger, a Pheasant Tail Nymph, an Adams, a Parachute Green Drake, and a whole bunch of other patterns, and none of them look as nice as yours!"

That is as close to a quote as I can come regarding a conversation I had the other day with a beginning fly tier. And I do appreciate his sense of frustration at trying to tie a 'perfect' fly.

If the truth be told, I doubt any of us ever tie a perfect fly, it is just that some of us are better at hiding our imperfections than others, and thus come to some degree of notoriety.

All beginners, and for that matter, many experienced tiers can benefit from practice. "Practice Makes Perfect," an age old maxim as true today as when the words were first coined by some unknown philosopher of the past.

How you get that practice can be more important than the practice itself. If you go about this in a disorganized manner, your results will reveal that defect. Oh, you will improve in time, but there is a shorter way to success.

When you tie any pattern, especially the ones on which you wish to improve, tie multiples of that same pattern, perhaps varying the size, and become familiar with it's nuances. You can't gain the familiarity required of any pattern by tying a single example and then moving on to another pattern.

Farrow Allen, Dick Talluer, Skip Morris, Paul Jorgenson, Chris Helm, pick your own great among the fly tiers of the day and they all have at least one thing in common. They have tied hundreds of thousands of flies to attain the level of expertise which they each, in their own discipline, display.

Very few of us will ever tie hundreds of thousands of flies. But, we can tie good-looking flies. And we can tie them with a degree of efficiency we could not achieve by tying them only once and moving on to another pattern.

Everyone who ties flies wants to tie the patterns which will catch fish. Some go on from there to tie for display, and many of their creations are not necessarily fish getters. Nor, would you want to use their beautiful creations on the stream. For our purposes we will discuss only flies to be fished.

Two dry fly patterns come immediately to mind as meeting our criteria for catching fish. The Adams, and the Blue Winged Olive. In the east we have many very significant hatches which these flies imitate in color, and form. By varying their size, we have the three major areas of attraction covered. It is a shame we can't tie presentation into the fly itself, but that remains a problem for tiers yet to come.

Take each of these, or other patterns if you wish. They each have a tail, a body, a wing, and a hackle that call for the same technique in tying. If we start with say a size 12 or 14, and tie a dozen of each down to say size 20 or 22, we will have tied between 96 and 144 of this 'type' of fly.

By tying in this quantity you will gain by repetition a decent quantity of two very productive patterns.

Now, move on to say a Light and Dark Hendrickson, and tie the same sizes and quantities as you did with the Adams and Blue Wing Olives. As these require a "flank" type feather wing, you will get the practice at this form and reinforce the lessons previously learned in tailing, dubbing and hackling while tying a quantity of yet another productive pattern.

Apply this same scenario to parachute dry flies, nymphs, wet flies and streamers and you will be amazed at the quality of fly you can tie in a very short time.

If you really want to see just how significant your improvement has been, take our first example of the Adams and Blue Winged Olive. Take the very first fly you tie using this method, a size twelve, and compare it to your last size 20 or 22. You will be amazed to see that the smallest fly is far superior in quality to the larger. It's no mystery, just practice that is responsible for the results . . .

If you have any tips or techniques, send them along, most of this material has been stolen from somebody, might as well steal your ideas too!~ George E. Emanuel (Chat Room Host Muddler)

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