It is now March and that means fishing season is right around the corner. With the winter we've been having, cabin fever is likely in full force. To help calm the summer time shakes I recently organized an event where local anglers could come out and socialize while possibly filling their fly box. I've never before tied my own flies and so I thought it would be a great way for me to learn while we could all share fish stories.
Participants listen in while Robin Doull explains and demonstrates some tricks to tying on the big screen.
There was a fair turnout for the first, of what we hope will be regular, fly tying event. I am fortunate enough to know a few people who are more than capable of tying fishing flies and I brought in three guys to help lead the evening's conversations. With some capable mentors and a number of eager participants, it wasn't long until hackles and hooks met.
A first time fly tyer tries his hand while getting some direction.
Since this was the first evening the intent was to start with something easy. "Wooly Buggers" were the fly we started with and by the end of the evening there was lots of examples kicking around. I can't attest to the quality or style of the flies but as someone who tied his first fly that night, I'm certain that those in my position probably felt some level of pride. To take raw materials and create, what some would consider, a piece of art that looks like an actual bait fish, nymph, mosquito, or other bug, is very rewarding.
Even if you are not an angler, you would likely appreciate the art of fly tying. The fishing flies can readily relate the creator's mood and personality. If you want to tie a bright colorful fly, there is no lack of chenille, or feathers to choose from. If you want it to be flashy, there are shimmering threads and wires to help with that. If you're in a dark place, there are shades of blacks, blues and grays that can be tied together in combination with various dark threads or simply use one color. This can be especially easy to do if you're not worried about whether or not a fish would take your bait.
Ahhh. The fish, when you add the elusive trout or salmon to the mix, that is what separates the true artist from the hacks like me. I tied a greenish "Wooly Bugger" pattern that I have caught trout with, in the past. This fishing season I will now have a new challenge; to catch a trout using my own "Wooly Bugger". This will likely test my fishing skills and patience greatly as I don't think my fly is nearly as presentable as the ones I've used in the past. When you have to worry about how the fly will present itself in the water that is when fly tying becomes the art of imitating nature.
I learned a great deal through my first wander into fly tying and maybe the biggest thing to remember is that it is not all about the fish. Patience, an eye for detail, observation skills, and creativity are also a huge part of angling. You need patience while tying the flies as working on small hooks is not something that is best done quickly. You need patience while trying to present that same fly over a school of trout while fighting those same flies that are biting you. Observing the feeding habits of the fish you're pursuing is as important on the stream as making sure you don't prick your finger on that small hook you're tying the fly onto.
If you think you might like to learn some of these life/angling skills check out the Kennebecasis Watershed Restoration Committee's website or give them a call.
A small fly pattern created by Chris McKnight. Only his second fly. He tied his first earlier in the evening.