fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

tie once, pay twice


I’m not the best fly tier. Most of my creations might be ranked as mediocre. I can tie decent flies — some have fooled some pretty crafty wild trout, though hunger might factor into this more than I care to admit. Most importantly, tying my own flies allows me to stock up on patterns I can’t buy in a fly shop. I’m a casual tier, not the crazy old guy who will tie two dozen hopper patterns in a single sitting. With the last kid still at home, I don’t yet have a fly tying room, so I’m relegated to an old TV tray in the corner of the den.

I have read a few fly-tying instruction books, some are pretty good, but aren’t as thorough as they could be. For instance, when I start to tie a fly it goes something like this: select a hook, usually a smaller one about size 20, then drop the hook. If I’m lucky, I find it immediately rather than two days later embedded in my bare foot. I’m thinking my fly tying room will have white tile flooring and a custom desk with magnetic strips inlaid near the edges.

This last weekend I went through the ritual of tying a few dozen flies of the coming trout season in the Sierra Nevadas. I had procrastinated more than ever this year and it was the prodding of the fly fishing club’s auction chairman for donations that finally got me to spend a day at the vise. This auction is held every year and is our single biggest fundraiser. The money raised goes to organizations such as CalTrout, Project Healing Waters, Putah Creek Trout and United Anglers of Casa Grande High School, as well as a club-sponsored scholarship.

The fact that some of these flies would be on public display — with an expectation that other folks might buy them with real money — has always been a good motivator. In the end, I deemed about every other fly worthy of such an honor.

The other, not-so-pretty-flies, ended up in the fly box. I am sure they’ll still fool the fish.

But I can help thinking that I’ll have to buy back the better-looking flies at the auction…


2 thoughts on “tie once, pay twice

  1. Hey Patrick. I was in American Fly Fishing Company over on Watt Avenue this morning to pick up a half dozen Thin Mints. The guy there said that his wife’s favorite fly is the Thin Mint. He also said he (being a fly shop kind of guy) can’t tie it at all. I, on the other hand, only make a stab at tying flies. That’s why I was in the fly shop this morning. So don’t feel bad if they don’t come out perfect. Jay Fair told me last year that they don’t have to be perfect, they only have to look “buggy”.

  2. I agree that for most of us would be fly tiers, mediocre is good enough.

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