Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Fly Tyer's Choice

Time is--unfortunately--finite. As such, there is only so much of it to spend tying flies. This conundrum forces fly tyers to essentially wager on the flies they will tie--especially as life gets more complex and fly tying time gets even more finite.

Like a lot of anglers and a lot of fly tyers, I like new flies. I like the hope that they carry, the sheer potential in each hackle tip, each turn of thread. But I also like the flies I know, the flies I have a certain amount of faith. I know they won't catch every fish in the river, but they will most likely catch a few--and I can't really say the same thing for those new flies. For all that potential, each new pattern also has the potential for spectacular disappointment.

I am coming up on a very busy time of year in the day job, plus I am undertaking a part-time teaching job at a local university. So I feel my fly tying time being squeezed tighter and tighter. Sitting at the vise, a new pattern offers its own reward in many ways. Tying a new pattern is generally more fun, more exciting than tying the one-thousandth prince nymph of your life. Its nice to tie that new pattern two or three times and finally see it turn just how you hoped (the enjoyment seems to fade after three flies--at least for me).

But the old standby offers a certain amount of enjoyment on the river. It generally comes you crack open a fly box and see a fresh row of flies you know will fool the trout just a cast away. That piece of mind is a good way to instill confidence in the first cast and extreme focus on the first drift.

Much like selecting new waters or old ones, choosing between new flies or old standbys seems like a no-lose proposition. And that is true, right up until you pick the wrong one.  


  1. The especially un-talented fisherman, who lacks both the time and the skill to tie his own flies, will usually have to find a buddy to trade gas for flies. Either way, we still appreciate the excitement of a new pattern, balanced against the confidence that comes with the old reliable. Nice article.

  2. I guess it's the OCD in me, but I love, as you say, to open the fly-box and gaze at row upon row of neatly tied flies. I like at least 8 of the same pattern and size lined up to give me that feeling of completeness - a row of flies, water shrugging around my waders, I stop thinking in words, but only in actions, the finite stretches into the infinite...

  3. Win, you just keep shelling out for gas and you can have your choice of old or new patterns. Though with the way the gas prices are going, the fly tyer may just have to step up the pace.

    Anthony, the OCD in me likes the neat rows. The romantic in me likes the new and untested.