A bunch of years back I decided that since I do a lot of fly fishing that I should also tie my own flys. I bought some basic beginner's level tools, some of the materials to tie to hooks, and watched a few you tube videos. And I tied flys, about twenty of them in total. Over a period of about three months. Not exactly record breaking productivity. Then I stopped.
Years and years went by without even thinking about tying flys.
Recently I decided that to keep myself busy this winter, when the river water is too cold to wade in bare legged (if you need waders in this river you ain't gonna catch nuthin) that I would tie some flys. I got my wife to dig out the old tools since I had no idea where they were and she knows where everything is. She couldn't find any of the materials, which meant they no longer exist, so I ordered more. I watched some you tube videos and started tying flys.
After three flys I vividly remembered why I had stopped before.
This time around I had decided on two specific flys to tie. Wooly Buggers and Bully Spiders. These are two of my favorite go-to-flys in the Brazos. Wooly Buggers catch everything - Bully Spiders are mainly for Bluegills but they too catch everything.
I have discovered that by using large live Bluegills as bait I can catch very large Bass. I'm talking 8 pound and up Bass. The largest Bass I've caught on a fly was a mere 6 pounds. Admittedly a couple of times I've hooked larger bass than that, but they either broke the leader or the hook, or straightened out the hook. But large Bass on normal size flys are few and far between. Big Bass like Big Food apparently. I haven't digressed, let me tie this in to the above paragraph now.
So I decided to tie large Wooly Buggers. I've hunted for large Wooly Buggers to buy, but never found any large enough. I would tie some that might get the attention of Big Bass. So I did. Three of them so far.
Here is what I re-learned during this 3 fly extended tying session.
- When I cook I don't follow a recipe worth a damn. I will read a recipe to get a general idea, then I'm off and innovating on my own. Same thing happens when tying flys - I watched the videos then proceeded to do things that weren't in the videos, and did things in different sequences than they did, and used different materials. Oddly enough my results were different from theirs.
- Crap gets everywhere. I had little snippets of thread and chenille and feathers and lead wire all over the damn place in no time at all. There were pieces of feather fluff floating in the air, seemingly eternally. Little sparkly strands from the flash material got on me and I looked like a demented stripper wearing clothing. Or a senior citizen that had gotten into that bedazzling craze my granddaughters got into a long time ago. I tried to keep it clean as I went, but damn...that stuff just gets away from you.
- I have shaky hands. I don't notice that I have shaky hands until I try to do something as delicate as watch repair or brain surgery or fly tying. I also have big fingers, not quite sausage fingers, but large. Combine large fingers with shaky hands and bad outcomes happen at the fly tying vise. Thread wraps don't...thread breaks often...trying to get thread back into that tiny tube on those spindle things is a major pain, even using that threading tool...fingers get stuck frequently by the hook point...glue gets smeared all over everything, except the one spot I try to apply it...feathers get tied on the side instead the top...lead wire gets clumped up instead of spread out... You get the idea.
- These are large hooks, large flys. Look at the photos - you see that grid these flys are lying on? That's a ONE INCH GRID - these are BIG flys - and yet I needed my strongest reading glasses and had to hold my head mere inches from the hook and had to have the lamp pulled down to almost touching the hook. Me, the vise, the hook, and the lamp were all crowded up into a tiny little spot and we all kept bumping into each other. I can not begin to imagine tying those tiny tiny little itty-bitty trout flys people tie so beautifully. Thank heavens I'm after bigger fish than that or I'd be totally screwed.
- Fly tying has a lot of tools, and variations on tools, and variations on the variations. This is deadly for an equipment junky like me. When I started I bought a beginner's set as mentioned - but in no time at all I had also bought about a hundred other tools, so I have a BUNCH of fly tying tools. Well guess what - I missed buying some and the urge to order them was almost overwhelming. I only used three tools and the vise in tying these flys, which meant that approximately 125 tools were unused and staring at me, and I still wanted to buy more. I wanted to buy a new vise, like one of those super vises I saw in the you tube videos. Then there's the materials - I had all I needed, more in point of fact - and yet I wanted to purchase more and more materials. I wanted to buy enough feathers to stuff a mattress actually.
- I tied large flys on large hooks - the Bully Spiders will be orders of magnitude smaller - not small flys by normal standards, but way smaller than these three were. I've hesitated for two days so far, hesitated to work on those little bitty hooks that are only 20 times larger than those little trout flys.
Thank heavens Bluegills are aggressive and will attack large flys. Or I'd be screwed.
I'll tackle those small flys, I will, just as soon as those feather pieces stop drifting around the room.