It has been awhile since I’ve tied any flies. Probably too long to be honest. I’ve had every intention of getting out the vise but just haven’t been feeling it, until last night.
There’s just something about tying flies that relaxes me. Being able to turn out something by my own hands that I’m pretty confident will catch fish is definitely rewarding. I also like the creativity of it, the planning and thoroughness that goes into getting a batch of flies right, and the discipline to turn out a few of the same pattern before getting too distracted and trying some other pattern and how that makes me feel mentally stronger. There’s so much to strapping a few pieces of dead animal hair to a bent piece of steel, more than many give credit perhaps.
Things I also like about tying flies is filling up a box of patterns and lining them all up like little army soldiers marching in formation to battle. Or showing them off to non fly tiers who also fly fish and watching the lust in their hearts well up into their eyes knowing I have hundreds of dollars of flies in my hands that cost me a fraction of that in materials, and realizing that I can turn out what I want at any time that I want and in any quantity that I want. Hey, you can learn too lazy ass.
There’s also something deeply rewarding to getting a pattern tied right, to paying attention to all of the little details that make a fly look like it came out of a fly shop mix and match bin. Cutting buck tail so it lies flat on a hook, spacing out hackle so it wraps neatly around a the shank and doesn’t get caught up in the securing wraps of wire, or glueing eyes on correctly so there isn’t any trailing material are all small steps that cumulatively make a large impact on your final product.
Being a fly tyer does have its downside though. Thousands of dollars in materials are sitting above my desk right now. Money that could have been spent on any number of other things. Premium golf clubs. A high end shotgun. Things in those boxes I’ve had for years, some I bought with intentions to tie fly patterns I’ve since forgot. But I keep all of it, and consider it blasphemous when the conversation of having too much of it taking up too much space arises.
I would say that one positive aspect of fly tying, aka dead animal skin hoarding, has given me is that it has made me open minded about other people’s interests. Have a huge train set city in the basement even though you’re a grown man? I get it. Have an obsession for collecting bottle caps from the 1940s? Sure, why not. I won’t jump on the pile when others make fun of your weird esoteric hobby. I get it. I’m one too. We need to stick together you and I.
I’m glad I got into fly tying when I did. I met a man once in a fly tying class who was in his 80s. He was learning how to tie flies, despite having pretty noticeably trembling hands. He struggled mightily to just get a piece of marabou tied on the end of the hook shank. I can admire his determination, and I don’t feel bad saying it, but I’m damn glad I discovered tying in the early summer of my life and not the late autumn. Hopefully I’ll have so many flies tied by that time in my life, I won’t care that I can’t tie anymore.
So, here’s to tying flies I may never fish and buying material that I’ll never use. May the trash bins overflow after I’m dead and gone with all that stuff, but for now, it’s all staying where it belongs, safely above my desk.