Okay. This is tough, but here’s the truth: I don’t know a damn thing about fly tying…
That’s great to get off my chest. I carried around this once white lie for far too long. In fact, that pure-as-snow BS has grown so fowl and downright heavy, I’d be embarrassed to confess what I’ve just shared with you to many a fishing acquaintance. Lucky for me, I don’t have to tell anyone.
Well, to be perfectly honest, I know a little about fly tying. But not nearly enough to say I tie my own flies. Up to this point I’ve probably tied five patterns. Additionally, most of those have been with good fiends who walked me through the process step by step, in a comparable manner to teaching a wayward adolescences the technique of shotgunning a beer (Man, I learned so much in college…).
When I think of fly tying I picture it a necessary and useful skill in order to be a “fly fisherman”. However, getting started with it – as with any specific area in fly fishing – can appear quite daunting. I’ve read a lot about it, know what most of the tools in a standard fly tying kit do, and have the materials. Still, I find it hard to know where or how to begin.
In reality, where to begin is simple: start tying, now! Just like most things, the more you do it, the better you get. Of course it helps to have a teacher, but with video, articles, blogs, beginner kits, etc… numerous avenues exist that provide plenty of in depth instruction. Not sure on what materials you need for a fly? Google it! For well known pattern – and trust me, there are numerous well known flies – you will find material lists, instructions, and helpful hints with little effort. You have no excuse, other than the fear of the unknown. So embrace it, and learn something new. The brain works best when challenged.
As always, support your local shop. My local shop, River Rock Outfitters, even has a Fly Tying Video page on their website. Buy materials there, ask for help, see if they have – or know of others in the area- events, and make some friends.
Another cool thing you can do it get to a fly tying events, happy hours, or club meetings where beginners seek and find advice from people who love to teach. These gatherings might be off putting to some. I can see how one could be intimidated by the “professionals” but the more you ask, the more you engage, and the more you care, the better you get. Fly tying enthusiast, love teaching this stuff. If they don’t, then you won’t find them at these events. They’ll be reclusive, stay-at-home basement dwellers. So, go to an event!
One of my biggest challenges deals with trying to save on materials and therefore, not buying exactly what I need all at the same time. Let’s be honest here, fly fishing isn’t cheap. Yet, I find it more of a headache to try and track down sales instead of spending a little extra and getting exactly what I need. Everyone is different here, and by no means do I support decreasing your credit score over fly tying purchases – fly fishing purchase in general might be a different story… So, set a budget, get the basics, find a material list for one fly, get it the process mentally imprinted on your brain, and move on to another pattern.
This is a helpful article on understanding the different thread ratings. I struggle with this, and to be honest it’s much easier to ask someone who knows, or get the info off a material list than to head to a fly shop or fabric store and try to wing it. There will be plenty of time to vary the strengths and sizes when you’re an “expert”.
Now, I began fly fishing a few years back and possess no reasonable point for my fly tying delay. I own a starter kit. In fact, I own two; one was a split-second gift from someone who no longer ties. I have lots of feathers, hooks, etc… And I even recently purchased a new vise (second one down on the right) – although, after reading this maybe I should spend a little more to get a better value. So, it’s now or never; sink or swim; fly or die. I must get to my vise more and you should too!