“Will Net for Hand Tied Flies”

by Rebecca on November 9, 2009

in Fly Tying

I’ve already publicly declared my fly tying inadequecy, but if you’re new here, I’ll go ahead and tarnish my fly fishing reputation for you as well~~ I don’t tie flies ~~I know, I know, you are first shocked and than you feel confused about this appalling confession. I am in the minority (so it seems) of fly fishers who do not sow their own artificial bug reproductions.

The way I see it, in every heirachy system (and who’s going to argue that fly fishing isn’t a society in itself ) there should be a few rebels scattered among the ranks to keep life interesting. Behold, the mutinous behavior of she who brandishes a fly rod. For those of you who don’t tie flies either, join me in this rebellion…I hear there is safety in numbers…For those that do tie flies, I bow before your mystical abilities.

Humble truth moment ~ I’m only part of the rebellion because I failed miserably at tying my way into the elusive club. There was a time I had visions of flies made by my own hands and I dove head first into the pursuit. All part of the natural evolution of fly fishing right? First you buy the rod, then you get yourself the most fancy set of clothes you can find, maybe catch a fish and then start tying flies. Presto…you are the shit ~

 On an investment level, I poured enough money into my fly tying ambition that if I add it all up, I could have bought the drift boat I always wanted instead, charged a standard rate of hand tied flies for river rides and I’m fairly certain I’d be ahead of the game by now.

Umm, Ya

~Impressive Skill Required~

Basically, I didn’t enjoy crafting flies. I had neither the microscopic skills nor the patience required for such a teenie tiny detailed hobby. One fly would take me two hours to perfect and it took two casts into a river for it to unravel. My crowning achievement in hand crafted fly construction was a San Juan Worm and let me tell you, I still have it and it’s a freakin’ beauty.

At some point and near financial bankruptcy (because every pattern seemed to call for yet another thing I didn’t have) I decided I’d rather melt my vise in a campfire, turn in my provisional tying membership and just go fishing.

Now, just because I don’t personally cook recipes that call for elk hair or pheasant feathers that doesn’t mean I don’t covet the hand tied flies over say, purchased ones from Cabelas. So that’s me, I’m not actually part of the team, but I’m not above leaning over the rail hoping for a high 5… Or I guess in this case, I’ll net fish, retrieve a floating hat, sit on a river bank with a sign that says, “Will net for Hand Tied Flies” and sometimes I might even beg, borrow, purchase but never steal, my way into the coveted hand tied ones…And fine, I might even resort to feminine tactics (double gasp) if the Caddis fly looks particularly floaty ~



{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

RobNo Gravatar November 9, 2009 at 10:28 pm


Check out the Fly Shack. They have good prices and pretty decent flies. i used to order from there before i started tying my own. Don’t worry, i can’t tie tiny trout flies either. The smallest i go with is maybe a #4 bonefish fly.



RebeccaNo Gravatar November 9, 2009 at 11:51 pm

I’ll check them out.
And……a #4? Thats huge in my narrow trout world! Of course, you know what that means, regardless of size. You are a card carrying member of the fly tying community. I bow to your status :)


KirkNo Gravatar November 9, 2009 at 10:59 pm

There’s no shame in admitting that you’re not really one of the cool kids. At least you tried, admitted your shortcomings, and got over it. I see fly tying as very much a separate hobby from fishing; one that may require so much time that it actually cuts into fishing time. And so, like you, I am coming out: I don’t tie either. And quite frankly, I have no desire, at this juncture, do do so. Maybe when I get older–when my eyesight is REALLY bad, and my fingers shake, and I can no longer wade a freestone river–THEN I might take up tying. Until then I shall continue to shamelessly buy flies where I can, for the least amount of money because I lose a lot of flies. Fly Shack is good- my current favorite is the Blue Fly Cafe right in your neck of the woods. I also like Big Y Fly Co.

I feel liberated– thanks to you. And for some strange reason I feel suddenly compelled to learn to tie an extra floaty Caddis!


RebeccaNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 12:03 am

Kirk, it was very brave of you to come out of the fly tying closet like this. There is comfort in numbers, so you are in good company. Hopefully you have a friend who ties flies that you can offer small legal favors to in exchange for the occasional special fly ~
I’ll have to re-consider the whole fly tying thing once I’m older as well. It might be a good retirement hobby, one that could occupy my lazy days.


Kentucky JimNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 12:05 am

I’m happy with my store-bought flies. I don’t feel the need to tie my own, even though my local shop has a get-together every Thursday night that reminds me of some kind of lady’s sewing circle. I just don’t get it.

On the other hand, there are aspects of fly fishing that have taken on the status of a separate hobby, and I do get that. Take casting a fly rod, for an example. Getting the rod and line to do what I want has taken me a lot of practice, no… I mean, a whole lot. And I’m still not that good. I’m just better than most people I know. But certainly not all, ’cause I know some pretty good casters.

Now, you can really get into some egos there; and I just love arguing with people with big egos. Don’t know what that is about me, but it seems to have an impact on my employment status from time to time…

Wish I had some floaty Caddis, but I’m too old. Just celebrated a birthday this past Saturday, that calls into question my flirting abilities. Oh, sigh…


RebeccaNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 2:27 pm

I was just thinking, I have no idea if I am a good caster or not! I have never been evaluated (that I know of) and just do my thing when I’m out on the water. I should probably work on it, or at the very least, try to encourage my ego to think about it….you know, just in case! Happy Birthday to you and as far as flirting goes, hopefully no one ever gets too old for that little joy in life~


trout whispererNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 7:05 am

look your young……..you got time……..right now you concentrate on your wind knots…..the knots you need for flies comes later anywho…..happy tuesday sister…….tw


RebeccaNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 2:30 pm

I’ve been working on my wind knots for years! At this point I’m pretty good. Give me a good wind, an hour and I can show you pretty bows in my leader :)


trout whispererNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 2:34 pm

a bow in my leader.?????….i need one in my creel……


GregNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 9:21 am

I’m sorry to be the party crasher but tying is not separate from fishing – not by a long shot. The simple fact is, learning to tie ‘forces’ you to understand entomology (hatch cycles & insect phases) and at the very least builds a more competent anger. It’s not an insult to those who don’t tie – just a fact. Tying isn’t easy – it’s work. No one likes work. In today’s ‘have to have it now society’ it’s no wonder tying is dead. There’s no shame in not tying your own patterns. Store bought flies are just fine…but let me toss out another fact. Most people spend between one to two dollars on a fly tied by some poor kid in a Kenyon sweat shop. It’s flimsy, poorly assembled, and way over-priced. Now, with the time and money I’ve ‘invested’ in quality materials and learning to tie, I can reproduce a quality version of that same pattern for about a whopping $0.15. With the right instruction, you can be tying your own (quality) flies within the first week of practice. You obviously won’t learn everything you need to know in that particular week, but it’s a very small investment to become a more competent and proficient angler. Again, I’m not coming down on people who don’t tie their own flies. How could I? I make a good living from a good number of those who don’t.


trout whispererNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 1:42 pm

greg you can fish without owning a boat…tying is a matter of personal choice…..just like the waters we choose to fish.


GregNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 3:29 pm

TW — I never alluded to the ‘choice’ argument. Many things in life are a choice. Trust me, no one has to defend their choices. I appreciate the fact that most don’t tie. It keeps me in business. All I’m saying is that tying makes a person a more competent angler. It’s not that people who don’t tie are incompetent, just that knowing how to identify aquatic insects (and stages) and match them with specific patterns (and knowing how to tie them) provides an insight to the activity that non-tyers generally do not appreciate. FWIW, I don’t do boats either — not since I was in the Persian Gulf. It’s not my thing. I believe getting to the level of the fish (i.e. stalking/observing/hunting) is more productive and rewarding than banging away at banks in a boat.

Anyhow, back on topic…If the concept is difficult to grasp, think of it like this: There are many singers who are labeled as musicians. Yet, they don’t seem to play instruments or write their own music. Talented? Maybe. Musicians? No. There are ‘musicians’ and there are ‘singers’. I’m not saying singers aren’t talented. They’re just not musicians.



RebeccaNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Greg, thank you for the input ~ I do wish I was part of the tying club and maybe someday I’ll give it another try. One thing I’ve never been shy of is work, so that aspect didn’t turn me off of my fly tying ambitions. Basically I didn’t enjoy it, at all and I tried (and tried and tried) to get into it like my fly fishing mentor or a few others I occasionally beg good flies from. I also don’t cook real food, so maybe my adversion comes in the form of anything that starts with a recipe :)


GregNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Hey Rebecca,

I’m not attacking. I’m simply saying that tying is an important part of the big picture. Fishing’s a personal experience. If you don’t want to tie, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not for everyone and no one’s judging.

No club membership necessary.


RebeccaNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 4:10 pm

It’s all good Greg, I didn’t see it as attacking at all, but pointing out all the reasons I tried fly tying in the first place. I may not tie flies, but I know well tied flies are important, actually, the most important part of fly fishing. Which is why I annoy the few fly tiers I know into parting with their good stuff or I buy flies from people, probably just like you, who won’t fail me when I need to assure a trout my fly will be better than the real bug.
As for a membership, you live in my town right? Maybe someday I’ll hit you up for a fly tying class and we’ll see if I can overcome my adversion.


RobNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 12:15 pm

I guess this little blurb has opened up the floodgates to the oft debated topic of “Does tying flies save you money?”….

I don’t know if it does or not, but I do know this: nice saltwater flies run about $4 – $6 apiece. I once bought 2 1/0 Clousers and 2 1/0 Deceivers at a fly shop for $20 after my fly box was smashed by a 4×4. With a $20 investment in materials, I can make umpteen Clousers and Deceivers. I’m not sayin’…I’m just sayin’.

I also really enjoy tying flies.



RebeccaNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Ouch! Those are spendy (must be for the extra sparkle and fanciness right?) Sadly, I didn’t enjoy tying flies, at all, which was probably my biggest problem.


JohnNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 12:29 pm

The ones I only attempt to tie are the simple ones or the one I have found to have the most confidence in so I try. Most of the time my flies appear to end up looking like rose marys baby or some equal abomination. Trout are so opportunistic (not all) you could fish a strip of green yarn effectivly enough to catch them. Oh wait.. that is a fly, the green weenie! Get my drift?

Regardless, I totally back Kory Vantassel and his store, http://www.theflystop.com/ Great flies, Great price, and interacts with his customers. One time the mail was delayed and a snow storm killed his interent. Heck this guy went to the city library just to tell me my order was going to be a day late… Cant beat that ethic!

ps.. learned that hand shake yet? If so, I have a few hand tied abominations I can mail ya..lmao


RebeccaNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Damnit, I haven’t learned the secret handshake yet! I would so love and cherish my very own abomination fly. Sounds like a secret weapon~


Kentucky JimNo Gravatar November 10, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Take a look at my first attempt at a Haiku.

I just returned from a weekend on the river, and I discovered something. All of that practice casting on a casting pond really does pay off. It’s not about looking good, although I can clearly spot someone who understands the nuances of the rod and line. It’s about being able to make the cast that you need for any given condition. A 5 weight on a spring creek with a 15 mph wind most all day? There’s a cast for that. Need a quick change of direction from the end of the drift to the next cast? There’s a cast for that. No room behind you for a backcast? There’s a cast for that. Need to change directions, and there’s no room behind you? There’s a cast for that. Need to get underneath overhanging branches that are less than 2 feet off the water surface? There’s a cast for that.

Like you said, it’s all good.



NerverackerNo Gravatar December 2, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Rebecca, fly fishing goddess, I have not yet undertaken the art of tying my own flies as of yet. But! as soon as the weather goes to pot and the holidays are over (ahem.. 2 kids to buy Christmas presents for plus my wonderful wife) I am going to start. I’m sure my first few thousand will be abominations, however, I’ll be happy to contribute to your cause once I am skilled and adept at fly tying, hell, you don’t even have to chase my fish around. Even though, from time to time it would be nice! Hey, I’ll extend the same invitation to you that I did for Kirk (Unaccomplished Angler) If you’re looking for a getaway or ever in the Eugene, Oregon area, and want to fish I’ll be happy to take you fly fishing on the McKenzie. I’m no guide, (maybe in a couple of years that’s my goal anyway) but I can put you on some some of the hardest fighting trout you’ve ever buried a hook into. If you do decide take me up on the offer, maybe I’ll have some of those purty hand tied flies by then! I keep my Facebook page updated with fishing reports and pics. Feel free to take a look. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?ref=profile&id=792637247


RebeccaNo Gravatar December 2, 2009 at 3:40 pm

I keep hearing about these abomination flies! I want one! Make sure I’m first on the list to receive one as soon as you’ve created the delightful creature K. Eugene Oregon, I’m all over that as soon as I head your direction. I’ve never tried the McKenzie and my last fishing trip to Oregon fell a little flat, so I’m thinking Oregon needs to redeem itself with me. Glad you found my website here and I appreciate your comments~

And I would gladly net your fish, especially for an abomination, but it’s not a requirement for my fine netting skillz~


NerverackerNo Gravatar December 2, 2009 at 4:34 pm

HAHAHAHA Soon, very soon! And yes, you will be first to receive an abomination.


John HoweNo Gravatar July 27, 2010 at 5:44 pm

haha, I like this article. I see you as an honest person who loves to fish and isn’t afraid to say what she means, and means what she says. A real rarity these days. Too many people claim they can do it all.


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