Lighter Side
August 31st, 1998
Fly Tying Types

By Al Campbell

Fly tyers are a strange breed. It takes serious dedication to stare for hours at tiny hooks with gobs of feathers and hair tied to them. But, this is where the fly fishing world's creativity is at its best, in the vise. As you might imagine, some definite personalities emerge after many hours of fly tying. Here's a few personalities I've met at the vise.

  • Dry Fly Don - Don searches for the ultimate floating beauty like a teenage boy searches for the ultimate date. He scours books and magazines for hours looking for that dainty creation that makes his heart skip a beat. Don't try to call him to dinner, he won't hear you. He's too busy with the feathered affair he's having to be interrupted.

  • Nymphin' Norman - Norman will spend a whole day creating a stone fly nymph that looks like it could move under it's own power. You won't find a quality dry fly hackle in his stash, but you will find every kind of wing case, back and body material known to the nymphing world. The ultimate compliment to Norm's abilities was when his wife stomped the stuffing's out of the stone fly nymph he left on the kitchen table. She didn't know any better, she thought it was a cockroach.

  • Elk Hair Ed - Ed booked several elk hunting trips to Colorado so he could have the hides tanned to supply his fetish for hair. He's got every shade and texture of elk hair known to modern man. If you manage to sneak a peek into his fly boxes you'll discover every possible combination of caddis, comparadun, hair wing dun and stimulator patterns known to the modern world. Don't ask him for a may fly nymph, he hasn't found a way to overcome the floatation the hair gives to his nymph patterns.

  • Bead Head Bob - If Bob tied it, it has at least one bead in it somewhere. The folks at the local craft store know his bank account number by heart. He's been directly responsible for their success in the bead market. His favorite dry fly? The bead head, brown wing, bobbed tail, bubbling booby.

  • Viseman Vern - Vern has every fly tying vise that's been manufactured in the last century, not because he's a collector, but because he's searching for the ultimate vise. Want a motor driven, self rotating model? Vern has two, in fact, he has two of any vise you might need in two lifetimes. Still, he's searching for a new vise that'll take the work out of fly tying.

  • Dubbing Dan - You can spot Dan's work at twenty paces. Dan has never subscribed to the rule of sparse dubbing. The bodies of his mayfly patterns are as thick as most hopper patterns. His theory is "if a little is good, more is better." He has a dozen blenders he uses constantly to create every shade and texture of dubbing a fly tyer could possibly want. Eventually Dan will get a job making dubbing for a major fly tying material company and quit tying flies himself. Until then he'll lavish dubbing on his own creations.

  • Hackle Harry - If you walk into Harry's fly tying room you'll see two of every shade and grade of Hoffman, Metz, Spencer and Keogh necks and saddles available. If it has hackle, Harry ties it. In fact, the more hackle it has, the more of them he ties. It's just too bad that most of Harry's flies are out of place on the slow water near his home. He has to travel at least half a day to get any benefit from the creations he's saved a lifetime to build.

  • Gadget Gillman - If you take a look at Gillman's fly tying bench, you'll find little room for feathers and fur. All the space is taken by the many gadgets he's collected over the years. Any fly tying gadget, useful or otherwise, will eventually find a permanent place on Gillman's bench, moving yet another piece of fly tying material out of the way.

  • Road Kill Rodney - The only store bought materials you'll find on Rodney's bench are hooks and thread. The rest have been gathered from roadsides throughout the country. Neighbors have learned not to follow Rodney too close when he's driving down the road, he often stops very suddenly to pick up some unfortunate critter that crossed the road at the wrong time. Rodney has sorted and stacked every material he's collected, not by color or texture, but by tread design.

    Which personality fits you best? Most of us will find we resemble several of these individuals. I suppose that's ok, fly tyers are a little different than the rest of the world anyway.

    ~ Al Campbell

    You Might Be A Fly Fisherman If . . .| River Home Part 1 |
    River Home Part 2 |
    Creative Counting |
    Best By Test|
    E Pluribus Unum|
    All About Entomology

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