Fly Tying – A Chore or a Joy?

Today marks a milestone in my annual pre-seaon fly tying binge.  I have just reached the halfway mark on my list of flies to tie.  But let’s back up a bit and explain how I even got to the point of having a list.

I have been tying flies for about 5 years now.  The fact that I tie is not unique as most of my fly fishing friends tie as well.  It just seems to be a fact of life for the dedicated (read obsessed) fly fisher.  For most though, they talk about tying as if it is a chore or a job.  Maybe I started with that opinion, but can now freely admit that I find it relaxing, satisfying and a joy.   Besides, it is one thing to catch a fish on a fly and quite another to catch a fish on a fly that YOU tied.  Very organic!

As the seasons have progressed, so have my skills and the number of patterns I can tie.  What started off as a quest to tie my staple flies has morphed into a quest to tie the majority of flies that I rely on during the season.  But as I have progressed from 5 or 6 patterns, to dozens of patterns with multiples of variations, the confusion of knowing what I needed to tie and how many started to mount.

So this is how I came about actually making a list and putting it into Excel this year.  I wanted to create a master list that I can reference from this point forward that shows what I tied as well as what sizes and quantities.  I looked through my fly boxes and added all my current patterns in use.  I also noted patterns that i was still purchasing as well as new patterns or variations that I wanted to tie.  When it was all said and done, the list numbered just over 600 flies needing to be tied for this season.

The task seemed daunting at first, but like most big tasks, you just jump in and bang out a few each day.  Some of the patterns, the primary staple patterns for example, I have tied in production format.  I setup the tying table with all hooks and materials sized and ready.  That brings the output rate up to 10 or 11 flies an hour.  Not too shabby.  For other patterns, I grab materials as I tie which lowers production to about 4 flies an hour.  Hey! I do not want this to become a total chore…remember it is supposed to be relaxing as well.

So last night, I tied the 300th fly of the tying season, a milestone which I am sure that I have achieved in previous years, but was never documented.  Now to start in on the second half of the project.

Oh, before anyone asks, the answer is NO.  I do not plan on posting my XL list anytime soon.  After all flies are tied and the list has been refined, I will put it up on the website.  Until then, just assume that all the staple dries (Caddis, Adams, Trudes, Humpy, PMD’s and Stimmies),  nymphs (hare’s Ear, PT, Copper John’s, Stones, October Caddis), midges and buggers are on the list and being tied.

See you at the fly tying vice!