Fly Tying

The Twisted Sister Fly and Whippersnappers

by Rebecca on January 11, 2010

in Fly Tying

~I shall call this one....the Twisted Sister Fly~

I did it. I succumbed to the flame like a moth to an electric bug zapper. I tied flies.

Full credit and blame for this second try at fly tying (aggravation, frustration &  the occasional cuss word) goes to Austin “the Otter” of the very good blog, 365 Flyfish.  He kept writing all these beautiful entries about this fly and that fly he was tying that a desire I previously thought dormant was resurrected.

On Saturday night I sat down with my daughter Kaitlyn, age 14…aka the young whippersnapper, and went to work on creating flies so tempting for fish that I would never fear a skunked day on the river again.

My first fly brought to surface all the reasons I quit tying flies in the first place. It was originally intended as an olive colored San Juan worm because Kaitlyn snaked the red chenille before I could. But then, the karma of my former abilities arrived. After a mild (in my opinion) pull of the bobbin things went wildly out of control. There was snapping and snarling then suddenly my first fly looked like the hairstyle of an 1980′s rockstar from Twisted Sister. All that was missing was some tight black tubing and a flashy bead.   

~ Kaitlyn schooling me ~

Kaitlyn Schooling Me

As I ran upstairs to grab some hairspray so I could properly set my new Twisted Sister fly, Kaitlyn was already whip finishing her first fly with a triumphant, if not slightly smug, smile. That’s the problem with young whippersnappers, they have no doubts when they have one upped, out manuevered, or schooled an elder.

My fly morale sunk to the depths of a lake trout, but I didn’t give up. By the time I had my next hook securely set in the vice Kaitlyn was already on her third fly. 

I did manage, second attempt, to tie my San Juan Worm. An ugly version that will never feel the grace of water or the thrill of fish lips around it’s warped profile. When I was basically done, Kaitlyn (on fly number 6 now) assumed the role of instructor and helped me with the whip finish. Whippersnapper.

I understand that if there are people reading this that tie flies they may be tempted to think, ‘good gawd lady, it’s a San Juan worm, the easiest fly known on the tying circuit’ and I get that. I know….Whippersnapper (now at fly 10 and moving through the beginners book to the harder flies) said the same thing to me. As evidenced once again this weekend, it’s just not my talent….at all…..

As I struggled with fly number three, a plan B formulated in my mind. As I watched little Miss Whippersnapper whirling off yet another fly, I realized I’ve got a perfect scenario here at the new house. I have a kid. I have a basement. I have money to buy fly tying materials. She’s short like one of Santa’s elves. I could set up my own personal fly tying shop! I’ll be manager and owner who will submit fly requests on a daily basis and let her do her thing. Her payment will come in the form of frequent trips to the river fishing with her Mom….. 

Feels like a win-win scenario to me.


p.s. The Twisted Sister Fly is unique, absolutely one of a kind and cannot be reproduced. All requests to own such a beautiful twist of fly tying art will regrettably……be declined.


“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 ~