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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thoughts on Winter Fly Tying

Where has the sun gone? It is cold out; in the morning the roads are icy and slick. It is the end of December; I am tired of the rain and I am particularly weary of the long, dark days. The Carp were good to me this year and I am thankful. Most of the ones that were tricked by my flies, took the fake so very subtly. Some of them jumped on the fly and just took off. I am thankful.

It is 4:40 AM and I am wide awake this Saturday morning. At times being awake on a weekend day at this hour makes me edgy or even down right crabby. I lay in bed for awhile thinking I might go back to sleep; I don’t. This morning I’m glad I don’t go back to sleep. I get dressed and head down the hall to my fly tying bench. The house is still; pattering rain and trickling water is all that is heard. I sit down at the fly tying vise and pick up where I left off last night. Twelve Mr. P.’s Carp Carrots are neatly lined up from yesterday evening; the head cement dried during the night. I plan to tie 3 dozen of this pattern in this size before moving on. Twelve more hooks, with the barb pinched and the bead on the shank, wait patiently to be married with fur, feathers, and artificial materials.

Sometimes I believe that I am tying my own flies for the cost savings. One could say that, and I certainly say it, but saying it doesn’t necessarily make it true. It may be true for me; it may not, heck, in the end it may be costing me more money to tie my own flies, in the final analysis I don’t care either way.

The continuing study of entomology provides an endless source of learning. There was a period of many years where I seined nymphs, photographed them, measured them, described them in a journal, preserved them in formaldehyde, and then worked meticulously to imitate them.

There is orderliness and precision to fly tying. Results are immediate and tangible. Repetition and production are relaxing. It is rewarding to fill storage boxes with dozens upon dozens of flies. It is even more satisfying to line up little armies of flies in the boxes I use when I’m fishing.

There is a creative, imaginative part to fly tying. It is fascinating to experiment with new tying materials and to play with variations of tried and true patterns.

The anticipation of time at the vise starts with planning my tying, and then selecting the materials out of my tubs, bins and containers. I lay out the materials and savor the beginning. I proceed at a measured pace. Tying as fast as I am able, produces more flies but it distracts me from my day dreaming.

Most enjoyable of all is the day dreaming while fly tying. I am at the vise tying my Carp Carrot. I have tied this fly many times; I don’t need to think about what to do next. The repetition makes it easier for my mind to wander. Captures from the past months are relived; they blend with anticipation for the coming year. At the vise, all trips are good, all sessions are good sessions, the sky is clear, the wind is just a slight breeze, and there are plenty of feeding fish. At the vise, those feeders just LOVE my Carp Carrot! They move to it assertively, pick it up and take off. They fight well; occasionally one of them even leaps out of the water. Fishing itself regenerates me but fly tying renews me in a different way. In the dead of winter I yearn for long, hot, summer days chasing the world’s greatest sportfish. These dreary days tying flies and daydreaming about trips past and present almost feels like it is more fun and more satisfying than fishing itself. Perish the thought but it does feel that way sometimes. Tying flies makes the chase more interesting; it makes the hunt personal. Fly tying is about hope. Hope is the breath of the soul. In its own way winter fly tying helps my soul to breathe.

Five proven Carp Catchers:

Rubber Leg Hare’s Ear

Hook: 3769 sizes 8 & 10
Thread: black
Weight: bead
Tail: white rubber
Legs: white rubber
Thorax: gray or tan dubbin
Abdomen: gray or tan dubbin
Rib: flat gold or silver tinsel

Rusty Bunny Leech

Hook: 5263 size 8
Thread: orange or black
Weight: lead wire or lead eyes
Body: rabbit fur
Legs: rubber (optional)

Chocolate Cherry Carp Woolly

Hook 5262 or 5263 sizes 6, 8, or 10
Thread: black
Weight: lead wire or bead
Body: brown chenille
Hackle: grizzly saddle hackle dyed red

San Juan Worm

Hook: 2457 sizes 8-12
Thread: red
Weight: bead
Body: vernille or ultra-chenille

Mr. P.’s Carp Carrot

Hook: 3769 sizes 8 & 10. 5262 size 6 or 8
Thread: black or orange
Bead: bead or dumbbell eyes
Tail: The tail is optional. Rubber legs are my definitely my first choice though there was a time I used philoplume or web.

Body: orange yarn or dubbin
Hackle: pheasant rump dyed yellow

Jim is a freelance writer who lives in Bothell, Washington.
This article is from the winter of 2007 and was pubished in North American Carp Angler Magazine. Jim is the Fly Fishing Editor of the magazine. All rights reserved.

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