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Another Tier of Tying

Wooly buggers. Egg patterns. Griffith’s gnat. I suppose I could switch it up a little bit and tie something crazy like a wooly worm or a green weenie, but why spread myself thin?

I’ve had the materials and a little bit of the knowledge to tie flies for about fifteen years now, but I’ve only been seriously tying for three days. That’s because I received a legitimate vise for Christmas. Now, I’m a serious tyer. Or is it “tier?” Maybe I should figure that out, since I’m serious now.

The shiny new Apex under the tree is the most recent in a long series of attempts to take my tying, and therefore my overall fly fishing game, to the next level. Starting as a teen, I bought a number of beginner kits. “This time,” I’d think, “this little cardboard box will take me on a journey of creative, financial, and angling success. So with another vise that had the capability to barely hold the weight of a size 4 hook, and another rabbit face that I’d play with more than harvest hairs for tying, I’d begin again. And lose interest again.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe any of the flies from this period of my career have survived. The pictures would be entertaining, to say the least. Imagine the bits and pieces sitting in your tying waste basket, only with a hook glued to the middle. That would have been some of my higher-end work. This morning my son called me over to look at his Hot Wheels track to show me an insect that had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. That kind of bug – misshapen, disproportional, and very dead – is the kind of bug I know how to duplicate.

I’ve caught fish with my Quasimodo flies. (I should trademark that… “we have a hunch that they’ll catch trout!”) I’m happy to use them, but I just don’t want the world seeing that they are in my fly box. My vest pockets are essentially the equivalent of the opaque magazine bag.

I appreciate a well-tied fly as much as anyone. I’d be thrilled if I could replicate the precision of competition-level tyers. Honestly, I’d be content to tie flies that look like the ones you buy in the fishing department at Sports Authority. Personally, getting to a point where I’m content with tying might require setting more reasonable goals. I’ve compiled a few:

  • Tie while watching sports I don’t care about, but have on anyway.
  • Tie at least a dozen of whatever I tie.
  • Switch my Postfly subscription to the fly tying box.
  • Learn a new pattern every month.
  • Fish with the flies I tie as much as possible.
  • Ask for help.

As round as my egg patterns are, and even though my panfish poppers catch a lot of sunnies, I’d like to do more. I feel like I possess most of the skills to become a serviceable tyer, at this point it is just about employing the goals above and just putting in the time. Practice makes Adams, as they say. Okay, no one says that. But practice will eliminate spending $2.75 on a generic dry fly.

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