I suppose this has been kicked around before, but I wasn't in on it. My position is that with a history that covers thousands of years, there is virtually nothing that you can do to a hook that hasn't been done before. There are a few talented and innovative tiers out there that keep coming up with new stuff, but it gets harder every day.
Don't people who claim to have invented a new fly owe it to the generations that preceeded them to investigate whether it has been done before? I'm sure that many of these generally believe that they've got something completely new. Shouldn't they spend as much time as they spent inventing their fly to check to see if it isn't someone elses?
I've been tying for over 40 yrs. and have never yet claimed to have invented a pattern. I tie proven, reliable flies that have been staples so long they're considered classics. Every time I've thought I had come up with something completely new a little research has shown someone else had the same idea first. Whitch brings me to my second question.
Does changing a material entitle a person to claim they invented a new fly? If I tie a Ray's Fly with Fish Hair instead of bucktail does that make me an inventor? If I tie a Lefty's Deceiver with DNA's new Holofusion instead of bucktail does that give me the right to call it Steve's Magic Minnow and rush off a letter to Umpqua? I think not!
You can hardly pick up a magazine or book without seeing someone's new miracle fly, absolutely guaranteed to catch fish if you just send $5.95 per to this PObox. In most cases are they kicking back part of their proceeds to the original tier whom they copied.
Look I tied a silverside with Angel Hair instead of Flashabou! I want to be in a book!!!