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How to go about tying flies


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31 replies to this topic

#1 shoebop

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 04:52 PM

In my career as a remodeler and builder I was tasked to guide folks through the process of building a new addition or a total remodel of their kitchen or bathroom or maybe build an outbuilding or on occasion to build a new house. This was sometimes a tricky process. But in the end, they had to have some conception of what they needed/wanted before they started. Never once did someone come to me and say, "I have a bunch of 2x4s and 2x6s and a large microlam beam. What can I build with them?" Nor did they ask, "What is the most used material for a second story addition?" I think you understand where I'm headed with this.

 

I see a lot of new tiers asking all the wrong questions when trying to conceive tying flies or buying materials.  What feathers should I buy to tie flies? Should I buy a saddle hackle or a neck? I have a hen skin, what can I tie with it? What is the most important material in fly tying?

 

When buying materials, you must first have an idea of what you want to tie. Many, if not most materials are specific to a small number of patterns and even then can only be used properly on certain sizes of those patterns. I know you want to get more bang for your buck but there are few materials that can span many patterns regardless of the size. Dubbing is one of those materials but even that is limited by color and texture and other properties. What am I saying?  Just this, There are no "one size fits all" answers. You need specific materials for a specific fly. How specific you are willing/able to go will determine how well your flies will turn out. There are some materials that can be substituted for without harming the outcome and we all are happy when "make do" with what we have. But this come with experience and a good understanding of the characteristics of each material.

 

Know what you want to tie...and then buy the right materials for the job.

 

My mind is spinning right now and there is too much to say on this subject for a forum. Somebody must have written a book on this because that is what is needed to properly cover the topic. Anyway, I hope you get the idea.


Shoebop

#2 Bimini15

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 07:39 PM

I would quit tying if all there was to it was a list of specific materials to buy and a list of specific directions to follow.
Bimini15

#3 bass master

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 07:50 PM

I might be the only one that went about the wrong way then. I bought someone's old vice and leftover material from a kit off ebay.  Great price and not sure if I was really going to get into it. Why buy new at first. Can always upgrade and get the feel for what you want later. I still go to ebay, first place I go,  and buy someone's leftovers or some new lot of assorted  material. All my books are used.  Im not a pro at this, I just like making my own flies or poppers. Are they correct as to the book, No. But they work fine and catch fish. Now i'm not making some rainbow colored freak fly because thats the only stuff I have. I try for the enjoyment, not for the fly.  And Im a bass tyer. So that could make a difference. Im only saying this is, Because  at first I didnt know what to tye? Or even tie it. I did learn the basics first along with the basic flies and knots.  I have only been doing this for a little more than 2 years. I am a retired home builder. And dont say you have never said..Its fine, it will work. You can use so many different materials for a finished floor, counter tops or roof. So you went with a ceramic floor in the kitchen, and i went with hardwood. Same as a fly. There are no building codes, inspections, license needed or someone coming to your house to see if your tying your fly correctly. I say have fun. It a hobby, an art. You never know what you might create unless you try. You need an imagination not a textbook.  



#4 mikechell

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 10:38 PM

Crap!!!
Now I have to quit wandering through Dollar Tree and hobby shops looking at materials and things thinking, "Hmmm, that might be good for something."

 

I have to have a specific pattern in mind using some unknown material ... THEN go looking for that specific unknown material.

 

Man, this just got too complicated ... I might have to give up fly tying !!!


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#5 Poopdeck

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Posted 18 January 2017 - 01:59 AM

shoebop did you find mites in your hackle box or something? Im really not sure what the point of your post is. New tiers are referred to as new tiers because they are new at tying. Some, maybe a lot, are like me in that they may have taken up fly fishing and fly tying at the same time or relatively close together. I'm more then happy to share my limited experiences with new tiers. There's just tons of materials and grading of materials out there that quite naturally intimidate the new tier. Thankfully al gore has provided us new guys a forum to ask all the stupid questions we desire. Thankfully there are plenty of people willing to help guide the new tier regardless of the questions posed. We can also choose to not answer the same questions asked over and over by new members with no harm nor foul.

Your remodeling analogy was good. It clearly defined your topic. However, it failed to identify a point.

#6 Crackaig

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Posted 18 January 2017 - 05:47 AM

To carry your analogy on a little further. If you are building a roof you use certain materials, joints, etc. It doesn't matter what is going under the roof. It could be a kitchen or an additional bathroom, a roof is a roof. Of course there are different kinds, but considering any one kind, when do you ever hear a joiner who has his whole working life made roofing joists for kitchen extensions say that he can't make a roofing joist for you because it is going over a bathroom?

 

Yet people learn to tie flies like that. Wanting to see the entire range of techniques used on a new fly when they can already tie a very similar fly. This is an extreme example but talking with someone years ago he asked how he went about tying a traditional black gnat. (Split wing dry fly) Just a few days earlier I had taught him to tie a dry Greenwell's Glory. If you look at the two flies in silhouette you couldn't tell them apart. The difference is entirely in the colour of the materials. I asked if he remembered the Greenwell's? He did. I said well it is the same but use black hackle black body and silver rib. Hmm he said thinking about it, "You had better show me." He had learned to tie patterns. Don't, learn technique - tie any pattern.

 

Cheers,

C.


"Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical
minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which
holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd
by the clean end"


#7 Dave G.

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Posted 18 January 2017 - 05:50 AM

Hmmm, I remember my first wet fly I tied, the classic Coachman wet. The recipe required a white duck quill wing ( or goose depending on the recipe you follow, mine said duck) that I did not own.  But I had duck flank feathers and used a couple of slips of those over the back. The two tagged brookies I caught with those first flies didn't care that the flies had flank feather wings and the tags got me my main tying case I still use today and also my favorite vest that I prefer to use today, that I also prefer never wears out. Since those days I've often found myself short of something on a recipe list and so sub in another material. I'm sure this would drive the purists among us nuts, they would probably tel me that I never tied the Coachman. It's really not my concern what other men say, I know what took place. Well, I've also made flies costing way too much by buying all the right materials and then the fish refuse the fly LOL ! Sometimes we need to understand a persons position, in my case when I first started tying my mad money consisted of $10 a week and the nearest store that carried a lot of supplies but certainly not all was 10 miles away one way and 13 another.

 

But I get the OP's point at the same time. Basically he is saying to learn one fly at a time, reduce the maze of materials out there by following a recipe. At least that is the point I heard coming out of his message. How some of you get the idea that he is pointing his finger at your specific tactics in tying is beyond me, since non of you are newbs to begin with and you well know your own ropes by now.. But we have seen some funny posts lately here, people oblivious to how it all works, and yet I can understand that to some degree, because today there is such a maze of materials . It wasn't like that when I started out, there were, for the most part, natural materials and no internet.  I had the Orvis book, Index of Flies and that had step by step how to learn to tie within it's pages. By learning those basic steps you ended up getting thread on a hook, making a Woolly Bugger, Hares Ear nymph, an Adams dry, some Catskill Ties, a Muddler, a basic bucktail streamer and at the back of the book were even a few salt water ties.. And from those steps required within those flies, really you could make any of the hundreds of flies in the index. It was a different time then. Today we suffer from information overload, back then you started off with the basics but yet learned fairly quickly if you chose to, used a little ingenuity and imagination. But there is no law that states you must follow the recipe within that index to the letter anyway, I subbed in materials of a like sort when I didn't have them and sometimes that fly was quite the fish getter, other times quite the failure.

 

I don't see getting all hemmed up over the OP's post at all. I think he took a lot of words to say simplify matters and follow a recipe, one fly at a time and don't worry about the maze of materials available today. And some of the new folks are kind of looking for that, they are asking questions about what materials might cross bridges to other flies down the road. And not everyone can walk into Dollar Tree ( using Mikes model) and see tons of potential in fly tying at the flip flop rack, especially when maybe they haven't even tied their first fly yet.. I recently started teaching my 10 yo grandson Andrew how to tie. First off he is left handed and I'm right but non the less we prevail. But wow, how we forget where our own roots were and where we came from. His first challenge was to just get the thread started on the hook without it slipping off. His last, the whip finish. But ya know what, after 35 or 40 minutes he went home with his first woolly bugger in a little plastic sandwich baggie. Ya the internet shows us these glorified and amazingly beautiful flies but the basics still work, you still have to learn how to get the thread onto the hook first.


John 7:38 ESV  is about "Rivers of Living Water"


#8 JSzymczyk

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Posted 18 January 2017 - 06:09 AM

Welll said Shoebop-    be grounded in the basics of technique FIRST.   That is the foundation on which all else is built.   Thread control, and the reasons why things happen.  


the gales of November remembered...


#9 Bimini15

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Posted 18 January 2017 - 07:21 AM

J,
Nothing wrong with getting technique down right. We all need at least a level of technique to tie even semi decent files. But the OP was about materials.

Shoebop,
If you tie for the fish, I just don't agree with the idea that one should not tinker with recipes and substitute materials. I would say most new tiers are in this group.
But you are right if you tie for yourself, meaning that you set out to tie textbook patterns, the perfect fly, whatever it may be, the way it was intended by its creator.

I think it is in the lack of that distinction that the OP can be misunderstood.
Bimini15

#10 Bimini15

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Posted 18 January 2017 - 07:30 AM

Dave G.,
Do you have your grandson sit and tie facing you, accross the desk?
That way he can see you as he would himself in a mirror.
Bimini15

#11 Dave G.

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Posted 18 January 2017 - 09:55 AM

Dave G.,
Do you have your grandson sit and tie facing you, accross the desk?
That way he can see you as he would himself in a mirror.

No, great idea though thanks !


John 7:38 ESV  is about "Rivers of Living Water"


#12 shoebop

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Posted 18 January 2017 - 11:40 AM

Never mind. I was just trying to save some folks from some of the pitfalls I have encountered and maybe save them some money in the process.I realize that many of us, myself included, went about it ass backwards many times and because I did, I wasted a lot of time and money

 

I know I didn't finish my thoughts as I realized this was a topic that couldn't be finished in this setting.  Just forget I said anything. I will shut-up and listen.

 

Sometimes I get thoughts that are hard to write out and I should stop trying to do that.

 

Carry on...


Shoebop

#13 shoebop

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Posted 18 January 2017 - 12:03 PM

BTW I was not saying that we shouldn't experiment. or learn technique thereby.  Quite the opposite. 

It is quite clear I failed miserably in communicating my thoughts and will think long and hard the next time I think I have a thought to share. Sometimes, I should just keep it to myself.

 

Just scratch your heads and say WTF did he just say!  blink.png 


Shoebop

#14 Bimini15

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Posted 18 January 2017 - 12:24 PM

There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, with what you said.
You have an approach to tying and other people have a different one.
That's it.
Bimini15

#15 JayWirth

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Posted 18 January 2017 - 12:29 PM

I tend to agree and when asked by someone who is interested in starting what to get my answer is pick a fly or two you want to tie and get just that material.  Soon the person as they acquire materials for different patterns the new tier is like the rest of us - a dry fly cape away from a hoarding diagnosis.


"Everyone has a responsibility to not only tolerate another person's point of view, but also accept it eagerly as a challenge to your own understanding. And express those challenges in terms of serving other people."

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