I’ve been thinking about progression and what it means to me. Progression with fly tying for me is huge. In my head I went from tying scraggly shit to what I now consider passable as decent flies overnight. I know it wasn’t. I know it was hours, months, and years of sitting in a chair at my desk glued to my vise. I didn’t want to suck at this. I wanted flies that fished well. Nothing else matters. I obsess. Each and every thread wrap. I know it’s stupid. I know the fish do not care one bit if something is a bit off. Today I found a fly I tied in 2009 or early 2010. I can tell because it’s an experiment, a Frankenstein like monster. Back then I experimented a lot. I crammed everything close at hand on a hook and when thread wouldn’t hold it all, I glued the shit out of it. Glue and duct tape will solve all the problems in the world.

Seeing that fly made me realize something. I’ve come a long way with my tying. It’s more measured and controlled. Gone are what seems to be the erratic chaos of early flies. Now when I have an idea in my head, I map it out, I see the fly finished and wet. I don’t care a rats ass what it looks like dry. People who care what a bone dry fly looks like probably don’t get hangovers either. I’ve gotten picky in my own way. I like seeing other people’s flies, but I can’t say I really like to fish them. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but it’s few and far between. It’s not that I don’t like their flies. I feel more confident casting my flies. Confidence in your fly is the single most important thing besides being able to cast. Period. I love going over a fly someone has tied and given me. I love seeing the processes. You can sometimes get a good understanding of the tiers thought process when fishing just by looking at the fly. When I work on my own flies in my head, I look at the profile, the movement of the material, the movement of the combined materials, the color once under water, the way it moves water, and so many other factors. I can’t draw, so me trying to sketch a fly is as pointless as giving a blind guy a book. Sometimes it hits me that this fly or that fly will look like this guys fly or that guys fly. I bitch about nothing being original and people will compare your fly to his fly or her fly. People love to say you stole this or this when you had no idea someone else tied a fly that way. It’s hard to pay attention to all the flies out there. I know I have zero interest in trying. I’ll listen to what someone says and then say fuck it, I wanna catch fish, and tie what I want. I will say one major thing I’ve learned in the short time I’ve tied flies, if you’re not having fun doing it, you’re doing it wrong. I see a lot of people taking this serious. You’re jamming dead animal parts and shit you bought at a craft store while looking like a weirdo on to a hook. How the hell can you take that serious?

So I return to my original thought. The impetus of this post.
I want to learn to play an acoustic guitar. That’s my goal for this year. I’m envious of friends who pick up a guitar and make it look easy. I’ve tried learning in the past and failed. I was a kid and had zero patience. If I’m honest I never gave myself time to learn. We’re never honest with ourselves, are we? It’s been a goal of mine to be able to play a few songs while sitting next to a fire under the stars for quite some time now. Someday. I like to use that word. Someday. I use it too much. I look at my fly tying and think, if I can figure this crap out, I can make my short bus hands figure out some chords. Right?

8 thoughts on “Progress: Rambling thoughts when I should be asleep

  1. I have a lot of flies from when I started.some are progression to a finished fly on another hook. I do think we take fishing fliesbit to serious sometimes. That goes from dry flies to wets to streamers. Do I want to make my flies look better of course I do ,Do I want them to fish better yes I do. I remember when I first did dry flies ,they were raggy looking at best. I rarely tie them anymore but I have improved over the years ,the raggy fly caught trout. Is it an improvement for you is the question?As we get older do we just want to be better at things. I often wonder if sharing pictures of my flies is a good thing. Mostly because it seems as of late to many people shove flies in your face and say look at my fly. I really dont want people to think that way. These days I really have to be inspired to tie a fly I think that is why I really like steelhead flies. They have different aspects that I am trying to learn. If you havent tried a atlantic Salmon wing try one and you will get that feeling of going back to the start all over again. Life is a challenge every day ,have fun with the guitar

    1. Mike, I wanna try Atlantic salmon flies and all those classics. Those blow me away. The cost keeps me away for the most part. I’ve priced everything from the feathers to hooks and I go nope, I’m too broke.

  2. Dave,
    Good read. Alot of truth in this. I always hate when someone see’s a pattern you tied and compares it to a “more famous” pattern. Saying that you just copied something else. While this can be true, but isn’t every pattern inspired from something else. Doesn’t every streamer spawn from the infamous “Wooly Bugger?”. Even just changing a few things from a already known fly makes it new and unique. That’s what keeps fly tying interesting and fun.

  3. yeah I hear you Dave ,I dont have all the stuff for them it is a slow collection process. Seriously you could do everything imaginable to a hook with thread and fur and feather , weather you change it a bit here and there it pretty much has already been done. I have always just thought of it as a challenge to get better at it. I have found over time that fishing ( for me atleast ) isnt about catching so much anymore ,it is about being out there in he river. I do get a Satisfaction withing myself when a fish take a fly I tied. So when I do catch one it just makes me have a better day. Since the Sandy storm hitmy world has been upside down ,I got t fish for steelhead one time this season it was tourture for me not to be o riting my ( my time so to speak ). The Gods of fish rewarded me well with one fish in the first run. I have to tell you after that long wait it was like an anvil had been lifted off my shoulders. Fly tying shouldnt ahero sport as far as im concerned. There is alwaysgoing to be that guy who is better then you ,tie for yourself and self improvement. I found that when I have tied for myself I have come up with some of the best flies for me. Each set in a bad fly is a step to a better fly the next time ,it is like life learn from your mistakes and make it better ,hard advice to live by But I think you get my point.

  4. You are venturing down another dark road of more gear whoring and more obsessive & erratic behavior…be careful here my friend. Be very careful.

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