Monday, November 24, 2014

Learning How to Tie Flies

Dave Stewart when he was a boy tying a fly
Dave Stewart Tying a Fly
Over a span of many years, I have had the pleasure of teaching hundreds of people how to tie flies, and watching them get started reminded me of my humble beginnings. In those formative years I couldn’t afford to spend a lot of money on equipment to get started so I had to improvise. I used a makeshift clamp device with a wing nut for a vise, a clothespin for a bobbin, a toothpick for a bodkin, nail polish for head cement and a razor blade for scissors. I also raided my mom’s sewing basket for thread, floss, yarn and wool. Also, the neighbor’s rooster and a few road kills contributed to my supply of hackles and furs. For me, necessity was the Mother of Invention, and even though they were not models of perfection, I still managed to catch fish with them.

Eventually, I became a proficient fly tier and I began to teach others how to tie flies, even those who had certain disabilities. I also enjoyed watching the excitement of my sons when they learned how to tie flies and used them to hook their first fish. It was gratifying to see how a simple hobby could arouse so much fascination and enjoyment. Their finished products were messy colorful balls of fur and feathers, but the process hooked them like a fish to a fly. This was entertaining until they started using my prize jungle cock and polar bear, so I had to hide the most valuable materials.

Even today you can get started tying flies with a modest investment of $50 to $75 for a basic tying kit. This may include a starter vice, bobbin, thread, hooks, head cement, basic materials and other equipment. There are many good books available on tying flies. Also, fly tying lessons and Internet videos will help.

I started with Herter’s Fly Tying and Tackle Making Manual, but over the years I relied on dozens of books to improve and perfect my techniques. This eventually led me into teaching others how to tie flies as well as writing several books on fly tying. My first book is entitled, “Tying and Fishing Outstanding Flies." My most recent book is entitled, “The Practical Fly Fisher.”  Both books are available on Amazon.

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