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Fly Tying
Gene L

How many flies

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do you need to tie of a certain pattern before you get in the groove. It takes me about a dozen, but I'm no production tier and don't tie daily. I look at the first of a series and I can pretty well tell by the progress from one to twelve or more. The more I tie, the more muscle memory gets instilled.

 

If you can tie number a great fly from number one, you're a talented guy. I can't. I think the journey along the way is pleasing and informitive.

 

The thing is, they all fish pretty well, and I'm tying for myself. Maybe I'm too easily satisfied.

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This has been brought up before. I firmly believe that there are 2 kinds of tier (just like there are 10 kinds of people - those that understand binary and those that don't). Those like yourself, that tie by rote, developing a rhythm, and those who tie deliberately. I would not say either is wrong or one better than the other. They are just different.

 

AK Best tiies by rhythm. He takes a few flies to get going. I tie deliberately. There is no rhythm to what I do it is slow and deliberate. If something goes wrong I will go back and put it right. This is slower, but doesn't produce sub standard flies. That to me is important. The kinds of order I will tie up is maybe one or two dozen of a pattern at a time. I don't tie huge numbers of a single pattern at one session. My absolute limit on tying is 10 dozen a day. When I have hit this, it has never been less than 8 different patterns. If I had to produce even three sub standard patterns each time I changed patterns, that could be 1/4 of my day spent producing sub standard work. That would mean a lot of materials wasted and tying very slowly overall.

 

So the answer to your question is I expect the first pattern to be right. That doesn't reflect any great talent, just a different approach.
Cheers,

C.

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whether tying for myself, others or even fly swaps, its usually 1-3 flies depending on the difficulty

 

after 35 years tying i must have learned to do something right :)

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Since I rarely try to duplicate another fly ... I can't say how many tries it might take me. I can say that the few times I've tried to duplicate someone else's fly, I've not had all the "proper" materials, so mine never turns out like the original ... so I still am not quite sure how many tries it would take.

But I can say I am more like C. when I tie. I am not fast. I don't tie for others and I don't tie dozens of a pattern. I tie what I need for a day on the water. If I didn't destroy any on my last fishing trip, I don't tie any "new" ones. I replace what was lost if needed.

Once in a while, I'll try a new pattern ... and again, I am very slow and deliberate.

 

So, I'd have to conclude that I tie one ... if it doesn't look like it's supposed to, I move on to another pattern or I quit tying for the day.

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Very interesting thread, and some wisdom in each post.

 

As I read through the thread, first I totally agreed with the OP. It takes me several flies to get a pattern right.

 

But Crackaig exposed some new territory, and yeah, I tie slow, when something doesn't work, I often do it over. Sometimes I razor a finished fly and tie it again. I don't ever tie a dozen to get in the rhythm. IMHO, his 10 types of tiers is dead on.

 

And Flytier is right, too. I have learned a few things. Although I never need to learn a whole new pattern, it's new techniques like hackle stacking or Comparadun wings that force me to repeat steps.

 

But Mikechell hit it on the nose:

 

...

So, I'd have to conclude that I tie one ... if it doesn't look like it's supposed to, I move on to another pattern or I quit tying for the day.

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fishing flies are done as one offs, and go into the box.

 

for swap flies, i will usually tie 3-4 extra. the best of the best are entered into the swap, and the rest go into my box.

 

i guess that would qualify as using both tying styles.

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I don't tie very fast, it takes me time on the vise for my senses to adjust to the proper dimensions and how far up I need to dub before I wing a fly. (for example.) Slow isn't the issue for me, it's muscle memory that has to be developed along with eye for dimensions. I've been tying Stimulators, and it took about six flies before everything clicked...right size tail, wing, dubbing, palmering, etc.

 

Even the first one will fish, but it doesn't look as good as the last one. And it's the same every time I change patterns.

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If it's a pattern I've tied frequently, might take me only 1 or 2 to really get in a groove. If it's a new to me pattern, I usually take it slower & can still get it to my satisfaction in 2 or 3 tries. Generally however, I would fish every fly I tie. I rarely have "rejects", they just may not be to my personal standard, if I was selling the same fly to someone else.

 

Back when I was tying commercially, since I tied almost everyday, many times the first fly was fine, again if it was a familiar pattern. There were times I was tying unfamiliar patterns requested by customers & frequently was left to my own interpretation. When I could get enough info on a pattern recipe, I tried to follow it to the letter when possible.

If I couldn't get all the info & did the best I could & in that case consistency was what I tried to achieve.

 

In that event, it was important to me that each fly looked the same, even if not 100% true to the pattern. It was even more important that they held up to many fish. Fortunately I never got any complaints or to my knowledge dissatisfied customers.

 

With the many thousands of fly patterns today, it's doubtful some slight variation won't catch fish if presented properly. Now, since I'm tying for myself again, I don't get too wrapped up in tying every fly of a pattern exactly the same or even true to the pattern recipe. How it looks to me in not what I care about. I've yet to fish a fly that won't catch some fish, eventually.

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This has been brought up before. I firmly believe that there are 2 kinds of tier (just like there are 10 kinds of people - those that understand binary and those that don't). Those like yourself, that tie by rote, developing a rhythm, and those who tie deliberately. I would not say either is wrong or one better than the other. They are just different.

 

AK Best tiies by rhythm. He takes a few flies to get going. I tie deliberately. There is no rhythm to what I do it is slow and deliberate. If something goes wrong I will go back and put it right. This is slower, but doesn't produce sub standard flies. That to me is important. The kinds of order I will tie up is maybe one or two dozen of a pattern at a time. I don't tie huge numbers of a single pattern at one session. My absolute limit on tying is 10 dozen a day. When I have hit this, it has never been less than 8 different patterns. If I had to produce even three sub standard patterns each time I changed patterns, that could be 1/4 of my day spent producing sub standard work. That would mean a lot of materials wasted and tying very slowly overall.

 

So the answer to your question is I expect the first pattern to be right. That doesn't reflect any great talent, just a different approach.

Cheers,

C.

 

Ten dozen flies a day is a fly every five minutes in a ten hour day. That isn't slow tying by my standards.

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This has been brought up before. I firmly believe that there are 2 kinds of tier (just like there are 10 kinds of people - those that understand binary and those that don't). Those like yourself, that tie by rote, developing a rhythm, and those who tie deliberately. I would not say either is wrong or one better than the other. They are just different.

 

AK Best tiies by rhythm. He takes a few flies to get going. I tie deliberately. There is no rhythm to what I do it is slow and deliberate. If something goes wrong I will go back and put it right. This is slower, but doesn't produce sub standard flies. That to me is important. The kinds of order I will tie up is maybe one or two dozen of a pattern at a time. I don't tie huge numbers of a single pattern at one session. My absolute limit on tying is 10 dozen a day. When I have hit this, it has never been less than 8 different patterns. If I had to produce even three sub standard patterns each time I changed patterns, that could be 1/4 of my day spent producing sub standard work. That would mean a lot of materials wasted and tying very slowly overall.

 

So the answer to your question is I expect the first pattern to be right. That doesn't reflect any great talent, just a different approach.

Cheers,

C.

 

 

This is me as well. I'm not sure I could do multiples of the same pattern. I would get bored! (unless someone specifically asked me to)

I just pick the pattern I'm in the mood for and make a fly. I'll probably make it again soon, but not consecutively.

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fishing flies are done as one offs, and go into the box.

 

for swap flies, i will usually tie 3-4 extra. the best of the best are entered into the swap, and the rest go into my box.

 

i guess that would qualify as using both tying styles.

Yep, that's the way. I do a lot of swaps and I do 2 or 3 flies looking for the best methods, then when I get one I'd put my name on I go from there. A couple on this board have mentioned not going on with a bad fly when you know it's not going to come out right. I used to do this all the time and have a very big tub of flies I'd neither use myself or give to any group. Now if it's not going right, I quit. Back up if I can or razor it. Why go on with the fly if you know part way through it's not going to work?

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I don't know how you guys can sit at the bench for that long after about a hour of tying my back Is killing me I may need a better chair. Lol

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I'm not sure I could do multiples of the same pattern. I would get bored! (unless someone specifically asked me to)

I just pick the pattern I'm in the mood for and make a fly. I'll probably make it again soon, but not consecutively.

 

 

I agree. I don't tie very often, but if I crank out six of the same pattern, same size, that's enough. Then on to another pattern.

 

Maybe my flies could be slightly better quality, but they're good enough for me and they catch fish. And this tying thing is just one way I relax on a weekend evening.

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I don't know how you guys can sit at the bench for that long after about a hour of tying my back Is killing me I may need a better chair. Lol

 

That is why I set up my vice differently to most people on here. That, and that I have damaged my spine enough to now be considered disabled.

I'll put money on it that your vice is higher, in relation to your body than mine. Most people here prefer the convenience of a pedestal base, I can understand why. They are far easier to place on a variety of surfaces, and don't mark worktops. Fine, but those are not my priorities. I want to tie in comfort for as long as I need to. The way I define my limits are 10 dozen, or 10 hours, whichever comes first. Which comes first depends on complexity of pattern.

 

What is probably causing your pain is holding your arms up. If it is not that, it may be leaning forward to reach the vice. Your arms are heavy. If you hold them up for a while something will start to hurt. In my case a lot will start to hurt after not a long time! To avoid this I have to tie with my arms relaxed at my sides. This is a measurable position. If you sit in your tying chair, and put your fist under your chin your elbow will indicate the place where your vice jaws need to be for your arms to be relaxed. Is your vice higher than that? There is the cause of your pain. If you have just done that you will have immediately seen other problems.

 

You are at most only an inch or two above table height. There is no way you can get a vice on your table that low, and work on it. If you lower your table, you will not be able to get your knees under the table. This will mean you lean forward. Another stress position.

 

The solution is a clamp vice with an extension arm. The extension comes out of the bottom of the clamp in an "L" shape and position. This means your vice is not over the table, so you have clearance around it, while it is low enough to let your arms hang at your sides.

Here is a photo of a vice set up in this position.

Vice.jpg

 

There is a further problem. Your vice is now a long way away from your eyes. Many people will not be able to see what they are doing at this distance. I know the problem, over the last 3 years my eyes have also deteriorated to that point. The solution to this is to purchase your reading glasses when the optician has a two for one offer on them. Distance glasses are focused on the middle to far distance. Your eyes can bring most things into focus. At shorter distances the focus of them becomes more critical. Your vice is now, almost certainly outside the focal range of your reading glasses. The focal point is set when the lenses of your glasses are ground to shape. It is done by varying the position of the optical centre of the lenses. Before you go to the optician get someone to measure from the bridge of your nose to your vice jaws. Ask for your second pair of readers to be set to that focal length. You may also like to have a little magnification added as well. That is up to you.

 

That is how to set up your vice for a stress free tying position. Doing that means I can tie more than a couple of flies at a sitting. I didn't develop this. Those of you who had the privilege of watching the great Chris Helm tie will be familiar with the position. That is who I got it from.

 

 

Ten dozen flies a day is a fly every five minutes in a ten hour day. That isn't slow tying by my standards.

 

No it isn't slow, but I do not consider myself fast by the standards of some I have seen. The speed is achieved by only doing what I need to, and not getting distracted. That is probably why I get frustrated with what a many consider exemplary tying. Though not fast I do strive for efficiency. Adding layers of thread along the hook shank that are not needed is inefficient. Back when I learned to tie, using threads much heavier than we use today, it was also a rout to very bulky flies. Running down the hook shank and back, "to tidy up" after tying each material in, grates on my very soul. Every time I see it I recall Alan Roe's tying classes, where he said, in every lesson, "Use your thread as if it cost £5 an inch; which, if you buy it from me, it does."

 

When I learned to tie, tying a slim fly was a virtue. When finer threads became available (Pearsall's Gossamer was considered a fine thread before then) it seemed logical to use the new threads to tie slimmer flies. It seems those that have learned the craft using these threads, use the finer threads to be able to put more thread on the fly.

 

It is also a case of getting on with tying. If I need a break I do not go at the end of a fly, but rather part way through it. Then when I return I pick up from where I left off. By the time I have finished it I am back on track.

 

All that said, these days I do not rely on production tying as much as I once did. It is a side line now. I make more these days from writing and demonstrating than production tying. Still it beats working for a living.

 

Cheers,

C.

.

 

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