Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Now is the time for all good fly tiers...

To come to the aid of their favorite clubs and causes. With the new year comes "conclave" season, those fly fishing events, often sponsored by clubs, that feature programs, fly tying demos, casting, exhibitors and more. All are open to the public, and most are free. These events hold raffles as part of fundraising activites, and some of the most popular items in the raffles are boxes of flies.

The weather forecast for the next few weeks ahead in the Bayou State is colder and wetter than normal - and normal is usually quite cold and quite wet.  If you're a tier, here's your opportunity to flies for the season ahead. As you do, put a few aside for donation to one or more events.  A box of 8-12 freshwater or 6-10 saltwater flies makes a great raffle item. If your skill is unique, then that donation will likely go to a Gamblers Draw or silent auction.

Check the LFF Calendar out for upcoming events. Make plans to attend at least one this winter/spring, and if you tie flies, please donate at least a box or two of your flies.

Use this time to become a more efficient tier

A few years back, we had a group tying session in early January.  Seeing a couple of fellow tiers made me realize the importance of efficiency.  For example, one gentleman rumaged through his materials for about 10 minutes, then sat down and tied one fly. After that, he rumaged again through his materials and tied a different fly.

There was another gentleman who was tying some flies at the corner table. While he was more organized, he kept looking at his fly and wondering what he was doing wrong.  His flies didn't look very good, either... proportions were wrong, and his choice of color combinations didn't seem right.

Here's a list of things that might help:

1. Organize the materials for each fly into a ziplock bag

Having all your materials for a particular pattern - including hooks, beads, etc. - all in one bag eliminates many minutes of rumaging.  It's a great way to also manage your inventory.  I keep enough in each bag to tie two dozen flies. Any extra material is in a storage box, and is pulled out when inventory is low. 

Also in each bag, I keep a small printed list of materials for that pattern, and one sample of my best effort. If I tie one that's better than the sample, I replace the sample with that fly.   Or if someone tied one better than mine, I use theirs as the sample.  That way I always have the best of that pattern to use as a standard. 

Yet another advantage of "Pattern Bags"... whenever I make a fishing trip somewhere, I simply select the bags for the flies I will most likely use on that trip.  It usually takes 2 minutes at most to load my tying travel bag!

2. Watch a video of the fly before you tie.

Maybe because I'm getting old, but sometimes I forget one or two steps to tying a certain fly. Here, YouTube is my friend! But I've also discovered that certain tiers do a better job at tying certain flies than I do, so it's also a learning process. I'll say, "wow, that's something I didn't think of" and apply it to my next tie.

If you're looking for the best tying videos, try the FFI library (www.flyfishersinternational.org), Orvis fly tying, Tightline Productions (Tim Flager's site), and Son Tao's videos are some of the best. I also highly recommend my friend Bill Morrison's YouTube videos (and those under the Kisatchie Fly Fishers YT Channel) as these are more detailed - and in higher quality video - than most.

3. Never tie just one pattern at a time.

When I sit down to tie a Clouser Minnow (or other fly), I always tie 6 or more at a time. Often, that first Clouser is the worst one, so I'll keep it to fish and put the best looking ones aside for donations. Repetition also results in faster, more efficient tying of subsequent flies.

4. Have a good place and time to tie flies

If you're thinking "I've got the next 20 minutes free, maybe I'll go tie some flies" - then don't!  Tying should be a passive, relaxing endeavor where your skills and creativity have necessary time for your best effort. I never sit down to tie unless I have at least an hour free.

Likewise, choosing a place to tie is very important.  If you have a tying desk, it's probably the best place. Otherwise, select a quiet room with adequate lighting. This surprises a lot of people, but I occasionally tie outdoors under a shaded canopy, when the wind is low or calm. The natural lighting can't be beat. And being outdoors inspires the artist in each of us.

I hope these tips help. If you have any others to suggest, please post on our Facebook page.