Whip Finish


Ralph Long - Aug 1, 2016

The doorbell rang right around 3 pm, and my head snapped up. "The mail"….and the doorbell meant that a package was left. Heading to check it out, I wondered what it could be. Perhaps mail order clothes my wife had placed? Or better yet, a small package from one of a few fly tying supply shops I frequent? But try as I may, I couldn't recall ordering anything recently. Upon opening the door, my eyes lit up. There on the front stoop lay a small padded envelope. And on the label was typed MFC. Montana Fly Company…."I WIN!" Sitting back down at my desk I slit open the top with my pocket knife, still unsure of what was inside. It was small and light, whatever it was. But then again, so was 95% of all fly tying material. Pulling the receipt out I saw "back order" and remembered. It was the Brown and Olive barred centipede legs I had ordered in April. Finally, after all this time, and most of the season I would have the barred rubber legs I needed. Not that I wasn't catching fish tying the same patterns with bared yellow or tan legs. But I "knew" that my pattern really did call for brown and olive. It bugged me.

As I cleared off the labels and made room for them in my bench, it struck me as odd that I was excited about getting two little packs of round rubber legs. When had things shifted from Whiting necks to rubber hackle? Normally I prefer to tie as much as possible with natural materials. But recently, the fish were crushing a few foam patterns that did so darned well with those tiny barred-rubber legs. Having learned long ago to feed the fish what the fish want, I went with the recent trend. To do otherwise would mean casting to a lot of fish that were looking to eat something other than what was on the end of my line. A situation where more often than not leads to fewer fish caught; having been that poor stubborn fool I know the feeling.

Hackle is important…..even when made of rubber. Just ask any fly tyer and they will remind you. "To tie the Flatulated Timber Emerger, one needs to use a blend of smoky badger and dyed-yellow grizzly hackle. If tied properly, more often than not" you will catch sleeping trout where they lie."

"More often than not," that's a phrase us fly tyers use when we are trying to get you to tie a pattern we created in the manner intended, that way, we have an out. And when your buddy ties that same Flatulated Timber Emerger with purple dyed grizzly and gives you a side-ways glance as he's killing the trout, you can just smile and say, "I told you, more often than not." Especially since we all know that a Dun Foam-Butt Caddis is properly tied with brown-barred centipede legs and the blonde version must be tied with olive barred. It just works so much better. "More often than not" that is. I am not alone in that thought obviously, since both olive and brown-barred centipede legs are almost always out of stock and back-ordered. Especially since they are the genetic hackle of rubber legging. Far more stiff for their diameter than other legging. A fact that for me justified the wait, aaaand….more often than not, they make a difference.

Arranging things in just such a way that I know where everything is in its proper drawer. Organized by shade, then tones and barring and finally turning all packages in the same direction. The same manner I reserve for my drawers of real hackle……wait…..Don't judge….it's not an illness, its efficiency. And the doctor said that I can stop that medication now, since it seemingly has no impact whatsoever on my condition. Not that I have a condition.

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