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What Is Your Fly Tying Story?

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44 replies to this topic

#16 atxdiscgolfer


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Posted 24 April 2019 - 07:22 PM

I started tying in 2012, I got tired of losing midges and paying 2.50 each for them at the local fly shop at the river so I decided to get a fly tying starter kit and started tying flies. I saw that Sportsmans Finest had a fly tying night every Tuesday night and they would hand out a pattern sheet and provided complimentary beverages and snacks; I probably purchased at least $20 worth of material at each of those classes and learned a lot from Greg (fly fishing manager) who I give most credit to teaching me the ropes.

#17 utyer


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Posted 24 April 2019 - 09:17 PM

In 1955, I found a box in the basement.  In that box were some feathers, floss, thread,hooks, and a vise and scissors; and an old Herters catalog.  Dad wasn't much help, but I started trying to lash that stuff around a hook to make it look like the flies offered in the catalog.  Results were predictably bad, and fortunately, all gone now.  In 57 we moved out west, and I did some fly fishing with the old junk rods and flies that were laying around the house.  Then I got into competitive swimming.  Had to stop that after a detached retina was repaired.    


Fast forward to 1964.  I got a job as a boatman on the Snake River in Jackson Hole.  I went up there with NO fishing gear at all.  After a few days, my boss and mentor said we should go fishing.   That afternoon Wayne and I fished a beaver pond outside of Moose.  I was setup with a fly and bubble on a spinning rod.  I was catching fish, until I started watching Wayne fly casting and catching fish.  I called home that evening and had some of that "old junk" sent up.  Wayne guided me through my first summer, and showed me what flies to buy. 


That fall, I dug out the old box of fly tying stuff, only to find most of it gone to dust or bugs.  Tools were still fine, and I started working on rounding up materials, and hooks.  My only learning tool was the Wise Fisherman's Encyclopedia, which had about 25 pages of tying instruction, and 25 pages of patterns.  By the next summer, back in Jackson with a large picnic basket as a tying kit, and a "new" fly rod I built up out of a dozen or so old pieces of bamboo rods laying out in the garage, I was raring to  go.  The flies I had tied over that winter looked like crap, but the WORKED.  Spent every spare minute either fishing or tying.  Flies started to come together and my 8 weight 9' 2" stick was whipping them out there ok.  Some of the other boat guides started asking me to sell them flies, and I became a "professional" fly tier.  


A short marriage, and a summer or two later I was working in a sporting goods store.  Tying to refill the bins, and make up custom orders.  I was tying up to 5000 flies a year in some years.  Moved on to reel repair, and continued to tie custom orders until 1996.  In 1991, I I needed a better source of income if I ever wanted to retire, and I went back to school.   Sold off my repair shop and started working on computer networks.  Still tying flies, but no longer for clients.  


Through the years I never passed up the chance to sit in or attend fly tying clinics, and have had instruction from Dave Whitlock, Gary LaFontaine, Jack Dennis, and Lefty Kreh.  Add to that many hundreds of tiers ALL better than me, and over 100 different books, I have become fairly proficient.  Since there are still many types of  flies that I don't tie, I still consider myself an intermediate.  


Now all my flies are for family, friends and charity.  From 55 to 96 I tied flies mostly for trout fishing, but tied plenty of Saltwater flies for clients going to Mexico.  Got a chance for a week in Mexico and had NO flies to use, whipped up a bunch of Bonefish patterns real quick. 


Seven years ago, after moving to FL, I started doing Saltwater fly fishing in earnest.  In the last couple of years I have started fishing the winter run of American and Hickory Shad we get in Florida every January.  Haven't bought a fly to fish with since 65.  If you throw in my meager attempts in the late 50s, I have been tying for 60 years give or take.    

"We have met the ememy, and he is us." Pogo by Walt Kelly

#18 richmce


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Posted 24 April 2019 - 09:32 PM

 i was a die hard crappie angler and using tube jigs was the craze. i was talking with an angler about getting bigger hooks on a 1/32 jig  he mentioned to talk to a fly shop. i did and they suggested a fly club[drift]  i had a few members do a presentation to our shabbona lake club and tie a few flies. i joined drift a month later. that was about 20 years ago.   about 6 years ago i designed the ultimate worm fly for rainys flies that is still in production . working on a few more to submit soon.

#19 two legged terrestrial

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 11:34 PM

In the early eighties, when I was about 12, My grandpa introduced me to the fly-fishing concept. Never took me fishing, just told me how and gave me his fly tying kit - I was hooked. That old cast iron vise was all I used until recently.

#20 mikemac1


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Posted 25 April 2019 - 08:11 AM

Sometime during the summer of 1958 in SoCal my mom sent me off to a weekend fly tying class sponsored by the local YMCA and the Pasadena Casting Club ( https://www.pasadenacastingclub.org) I was 11 years old. After tying a few Professor and Leadwing Coachman wets, I was a fly tier. Once I started working part time at 14, I had a few funds to expand my tying stock. It has been part of my life ever since. The single most important result however from that 1st tying experience was my introduction to the Pasadena Casting Club, its casting pools and a bevy of well-experienced master fly casters who eagerly welcomed the task of teaching a young enthusiast. Well before I went off to a brief stint in college and then a 28 year career in the USAF, I learned how to pickup just about any fly rod and cast flies successfully. It was not until I returned from Vietnam in 1970 and found myself stationed at McChord in Tacoma that I really started to fly fish. Back in those days, fly rods and fly tying materials were found in drug stores like Rexall and the real hoarding of materials began. Once I got the taste of SRC in the sound, rainbows in the lowland lakes and the huge lake run rainbows of the San Poil river, my fly tying took off. A tour in Montana in the early 1970s and Alaska in the mid-1970s gave me fly fishing opportunities I had never dreamed of.

Although I did not get to fly fish as much as I wanted to while overseas from 1980 to 1991, I had my gear with me and tossed my flies in a few Philippine, English, Irish, German, Austrian and Turkish waters over that decade. Warmwater, Saltwater, Coldwater, Ive tied flies and caught fish on those flies ever since I retired from the USAF in 1996. Living in Bozeman, Montana for the last decade, my fly tying has not abated. If I am home at least a 1/2 dozen flies are tied every day. Most I must say are donated to our TU chapter or given away to anglers I encounter streamside. Like morning coffee, the daily dump, brushing my teeth, fly tying at age 71 is just part of my life.

#21 Mike West

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Posted 25 April 2019 - 02:39 PM

Im too lazy to type my whole story out, I use to have it somewhere so I could just copy and paste it for threads like this but I cant find it now.

Im 60...starting tying about 8 or 9 (2nd grade) I took flying and fly casting lessons once a week for 4 years at the Long Beach Casting Club in CA. Only because 2 of my dads best friends were instructors there and my God Father... my Dad did nothing outdoors.

Later in my teens I tied flies for Dan Bailey for a couple years...Just to support my habit.
I also quit my real job at one point my life and supported a family of eight for about two years tying flies. It turned my passion into a nightmare I dreaded so I went back to the real world.
I cant tie like I used to because of my eye site and I just dont care anymore about seeing every thread wrap
laid down.
Now days is about relaxation and the joy of tying.

#22 tjm


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Posted 25 April 2019 - 03:14 PM

At about age  25 I taught myself to fly fish from Joe Brooks' book and soon after  had lost so many flies (value probably exceeded the cost of rod and reel)  to the tree tops that I either had to quit fishing or learn to tie, the Universal Fly Tying Guide was my main reference, but with a large Library two blocks   from the house I soon read/studied most of the fly fishing and tying books that were available in the late '70s and tried just about all the stuff that was written. My flies looked better in my second year than they do now; but my current flies catch more fish I think. 

#23 Poopdeck


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Posted 25 April 2019 - 06:48 PM

My father was a farmer. We were poor but I never knew it. My dad showed us how to tie bits of yarn to a hook with a split shot crimped on the hook. I spin fished for native pa brook trout for years with yarn and split shot on hooks. No doubt it's why I don't strive to tie display model flies and why I rarely trout fish anymore. Tied on vise grips until sometime in the mid 70's when I bought a ty-master vise at the local hardware store with money earned through trapping muskrats. I always refer to it as a Thompson because everybody knows what a Thompson is but it's actually a lesser known ty-master. Spent the next 35 to 40 or so years pouring lead, dressing trebles and tying hair jigs, saltwater teasers and Bucktail jigs. Have you seen the price of 1.5 ounce and up bucktails lately? Holy smokes they are expensive. I'm proud to say the ty-master is still in use and still works just fine. Again, no doubt why I scoff at the notion that expensive tools are better.

Although my father fly fished I didn't until after he passed. I inherited all of his tying gear about 7 years ago. Pretty much started tying flies and fly fishing on the same day. I enjoy fishing way to much to limit myself just to fly fishing but fly fishing has become an equal partner. I don't consider myself a flytyer per se. I view tying as just a part of fishing wether it be by fly rod, spinning or conventional tackle, or jiggle sticks.

#24 Bryon Anderson

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Posted 25 April 2019 - 10:16 PM

My story is similar to atxdiscgolfer's -- I got started fly fishing in the mid-1990's, right after my (then) wife and I moved to Cleveland. The first real fly fishing I ever did was on the rivers that run through Cleveland's Metroparks, and on Conneaut Creek, right near the OH/PA state line. The drive to Conneaut from Cleveland Heights was 2-3 hours. I would make that drive with a half-dozen woolly buggers and Spring Wigglers (all I could afford at one time in those days) in my little Plano box, and lose all my flies in the first hour of fishing. It was kind of a no-brainer that I needed to learn to tie my own flies. My wife got me a Hook & Hackle vise and some tools that year for Christmas, along with a copy of Skip Morrison't Fly Tying Made Clear & Simple, and by the following spring I had a respectable box full of usable flies. Twenty-some years later, I've long since given up the idea that I'm saving money tying my own -- I just like doing it. It's gotten me through a lot of long cold winters. There's always something new to learn, which keeps things interesting. And there's nothing like the feeling of getting a nice fish on a fly from your own vise. :) 

"... trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience." -- John Voelker (aka Robert Traver), Testament of a Fisherman

#25 caloosa bug

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 11:31 PM

 Started tossing a fly around middle school age. Mostly only during summer for bedding bluegill, or in the smokies on our annual family vacation.  After high school in 02, I didn't pick it back up till around 2010. Never even thought about tying.


Then after 5 years and many store bought spiders and poppers hammering big gills, it hit me after trying to salvage some chewed up foam spiders.... there is nothing to it..I can make these.. I made a comment one evening while visiting my parents about how I need to order more flies and maybe would like to start making my own.  Mom replied, "i think I have something in the attic I picked up at a yard sale years ago, and I figured you or your brother would want.". She comes back with two big boxes. The boxes had everything.. a simple old vice, feathers, hair, hooks, thread, synthetics and all kinds of tools with a couple books.  It was pretty old looking stuff, but usable to get going. I was looking into just making some spiders and bream bugs...but It's been all downhill since 2015.  Here on Okeechobee there aren't any fly shops or classes, as fly fishing is not high in popularity here. I credit you tube and joining this forum in 2016 to teaching me of techniques and materials. Heck, a lot of materials I have now came from generous members here. Even the old vise I had, was retired last year thanks to Zip giving me a much more useful rotary . Still much to learn, but am sure enjoying the ride and finding ways to fool fish with something I made. Now, I almost fly fish more than conventional.

#26 Rjohn7


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Posted 27 April 2019 - 04:43 PM

Way back when dinosaurs were roaming the world,  someone discovered that there was a better way to catch fish than just throwing rocks at them and My great grandfather somehow heard about it.  Not only did he hear about it he learned to how to tie, and sometime after that he had children and one of them was my Grandfather and he also learned this new obsession.  fast forward several billion years and I came along.  At that point my grandfather was very ancient  (I remember, I was six and knew what ancient looked like) The only way I got to spend time with him was if I was doing things with him he thought worth doing, which wasn't very much.  That boiled down to his hobbies... which were; ruining the day of any fish he met, tieing flies, lapidary, silver smithing and keeping farm animals he could eat.  Believe it or not I just wasn't into standing in freezing water to spoil some fishes day,  and as soon as my Grandfather passed away (when I was 15) I never went fly fishing again.  However as I've gotten older I've found I value tying more,  it has some nostalgia for me,  I like teaching the children and believe it or not its much easier to do now than how my grandfather did it.  (he actually stuck his hook in a cork and tied that way)  I've taken to teaching lapidary and silver smithing the past 20 years too. 

#27 xvigauge


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Posted 27 April 2019 - 05:07 PM

Wow! These posts are great. Notice how similar many of them are. Us older guys must keep passing the art onto the kids or it may be forever lost.


#28 redwing



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Posted 28 April 2019 - 06:41 PM

I started tying some 35 years ago. Started with a Jack Dennis's book. Was able to take a one day class with Jack. Started with a Prince vice and mustad  hooks. Best book was Carrie Stevens step by step tying book. Sure is easier for the beginner with YouTube now. Great way to relax and feed my fly fishing habit. Just got my wife started fly fishing. Give her a fly box full of my hand tied flys for her b-day this year. Sure enjoy watch other people ty flies. 

#29 trailryder


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Posted 03 May 2019 - 11:34 AM

I was around 20 years old, mid 90's, and found out I had an uncle who lived in Coeur d'Alene who fly fished.  We were going on a family vacation with around 30 or 40 of the family all descending on Jackson Hole and I decided that it was something I would love to try.  I went and bought a beginners fly rod and reel outfit by South Bend and went ahead and purchased a fly tying kit along with a book.


Alas, there was no fishing on that trip as there was no time but the damage was done.  After cutting my teeth on the local bass and sunfish population in Northeast Kansas I have fished exclusively with the fly rod ever since.


I started tying because where I live, if you want a fly, you either have it mailed to you or tie it yourself.  I like gear and immersing myself in whatever hobby I am into at the time so this seemed a natural extension.  I enjoyed tying but it was a means to an end to support my fishing hobby.  As I have gotten older I find myself enjoying tying more and more.


I particularly enjoy tying trout flies.  Something about the size and materials trying to imitate bugs fascinates me.  I least enjoy tying large warmwater flies, which is a problem because that is 100% of the fishing anywhere near me.  Hence my trout boxes which are used maybe a couple of times a year are overstuffed while my warmwater boxes are continually running low. 



#30 flyty1


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Posted 06 May 2019 - 09:11 PM

I started tying with a Knoll fly rying kit (before bobbins) when I was 8 years old...learned to cast out of an old Courtland phamphlet. I have tied with many famous fly tyers. Nothing beats the thrill of taking another fish on my own fly!