Learning to Fly…Tie

As a continuation of my previous post about Learning to Fish with a Fly, I’m now learning to fly tie. They say, if you learn to tie flies yourself it will increase the amount of fish you catch… and although I agree I have learned a ton… I think moving to Montana might be a better way to catch more fish… so for now I’ll just keep tying flys hoping it helps. During the winter fishing is tough… there are still fish to catch but I was seeking a creative outlet so I figured hey-ho why not pick up tying flies… thousands of dollars later… here I am with some flies that I think look pretty good but the fish probably don’t care.

I got my start with a nice Renzetti fly tying vice and a material kit for a couple of different fly patterns from Gig Harbor Fly Shop. The pink is Jon’s Motion Prawn, meant to imitate something a sea-run fish might eat, and second, a “Challenged Emerger” which because of my lacking skills I would call an “Extremely Challenged Emerger” and these are the two first flys I cut my teeth on.

Jon’s Motion Prawn

These pink flys were admittedly difficult first flys to learn to tye but I feel like they helped me to grasp a lot of the skills needed for tying flys to come…

Extremely Challenged Emerger

These Emerger type flys are in the “dry fly” category and are meant to look like a hatching bug that’s sort of caught in the shuk or surface film of the water. So they hang a bit half-in- half-out of the water and fish are said to “blow these things up” according to the local shop owner. Little floating dry flys are very meticulous to tie I should add.

Next, I got into tying Nymph flys… which is really what I wanted to get into tying flys for… as these little flys are easy to tie, yet you end up losing them snagging on bottom or rocks/trees often… and I was tired of paying for them. You fish these below a floaty fly like a grasshopper or some sort of indicator float… the idea being it gets down deep in front of the fish’s face quick… and I first started fishing these on a trip to Montana this last summer and caught some beautiful native trout with them.

This fly is sort of a “guide fly” where I used the material I had on hand and was quick and easy to tie. The flash on it you can see deep into and I think it might catch fish but who knows.
This is a pheasant tail Nymph with a couple hot spots.
I tied a lot of Nymphs… some I know produce… some experimental.

Before the covid pandemic most fly shops would have fly tying night where you could go on a date drink beer and learn to tie flys… this died due to the pandemic… but I still held my own with my girlfriend and she tied her first fly under my direction. She is self-admittedly more of an athlete than an artist but I wanted to show off her fly which came out pretty good for a first-timer!

Girlfriends first fly… not bad!

Another big reason I got into tying flys is that when you are buying and breaking a losing them all the time like any newer fly angler does… it adds up $$$. Let me be very clear, tying your own flys won’t save you any money at first, as it’s a heavy investment in tools and materials… and the nicer the fly the more expensive the materials. That said… big Salmon/Steelhead flys are often the most expensive brining in about $7 each on average I’d say. So I’ve started just recently tying some of those and they are certainly the most beautiful of the bunch…

This is an articulated streamer – you can see the trailer hook attached by wire.
Another “dark” articulated streamer you can see the hook buried in the tail.

These bigger flys are for bigger fish and before winter I had the chance to catch a few bigger fish on flies I bought from the local shop. Seeing how these flys work I’m excited to try my own in the same spots next time I’m out where the big fish live.

It’s a really cool thing to catch a fish on a lure that you made yourself. I’ve never done it, but it would be cool. I’m pretty stocked up and ready now so first chance I get at some good water you know I’ll be throwing my flys and that first one will be magical.

I’m constantly on the hunt for new materials to use in making new flys and the dog was pestering me for attention the other day and I decide to be resourceful. I stole some under-fur and some fibers by giving him a few pets and created this fine little fly…

Dog fur fly

So if the end of the world comes quick… and it’s just me and the dog… we’ll be eating well at least with some fresh-caught fish!

By Raleigh

I am really fortunate for my work that allows me a flexible enough schedule to live my life in a way that affords me much happiness.

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