My flies aren’t fit to be tied | AspenTimes.com
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My flies aren’t fit to be tied

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

The trout won’t know what hit them ” literally.

When I heave one of the ungainly bugs I’ve been tying into a local river this spring, chances are, I’ll hit a fish over the head. At the very least, they should be stunned by the sight of the thing. Either way, I figure they’ll float to the surface and right into my net.

That, or I have to go to South America.

Learning to tie my own flies seemed like a good idea, if only because the practice lends an added air of mystique and credibility to the already noble pursuit of fly-fishing, as if fly-fishers weren’t snooty enough already.

It’s not anything like digging your own worms.

In my case, it’s more like wrapping filament around a sharp, but microscopic hook with sausage-like appendages and the visual acuity of Mr. Magoo, with predictable results. That’s why I’m specializing in flies large enough to render my quarry unconscious.

But hey, with local fly shops charging roughly two bucks per fly ” some of which don’t survive more than a single cast (stupid trees) ” tying my own is bound to leave me with extra beer money after a day on the river, unless you count the cost of the fly-tying course I recently completed and all the materials I’ve purchased so far. I should start breaking even in a decade or so, unless I invest in a combination lamp/magnifying glass contraption so I can actually see what I’m doing.

Like everything else associated with fly-fishing, the opportunities to drop wads of cash in an attempt to catch a fish I’m just going to put right back in the water are endless.

Then there’s the time spent tying ” I can fall in the water, untangle my line twice and miss a half-dozen strikes in the time it takes me to produce one not-so-credible fly. Yes, tying will have to be relegated to the winter months. Here’s hoping the Hollywood writers’ strike is an annual occurrence.

I’m also going to need a bigger fishing vest ” one that accommodates boxes of my flies, and boxes of the flies that will actually work. In other words, I’m going to have to keep buying flies. Or go to South America.

Fly tying does, at least, allow one’s creative bent to take hold. Plenty of guys have written the book on fly tying; I’ve thrown it out the window.

Hackle, schmackle. My flies won’t be imitations, i.e. attempts to replicate a real-life insect, but rather, attractor patterns of the sort that fool a trout into thinking a dessert he’s never tasted before is floating by. Either that, or the fish will be so annoyed by its presence, it will strike at it just to get rid of it. Works for me.

These one-of-a-kind, secret morsels may not turn the fly-fishing world on its head, but it certainly has my household pets on the run. Need a little dubbing? Time to brush a dog. Lately, I’ve been stalking them with a scissors and an eye on their nice thick, tapered whiskers. I’m hoping I’ve finally found a use for my own gray hair, as well.

My fly-tying instructor was effusive in his praise of my early efforts. Apparently, my wrapping skills are top-notch, though I coated the finished specimens with enough glue to create a hardened mass of fur and thread that should go far in my plan to knock out the fish.

Or, I simply need to find some unsuspecting trout ” ones that will rise to take my flies because they’ve never seen an imitation fly, or fly-fisher, in their lives and aren’t wise to this devious sport.

That, at least, was the gist of my instructor’s assessment.

“Those flies will work great in Argentina!”


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