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Trout Bums at Large is a monthly column appearing in the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Seattle Times. The column is written by Randal Sumner and Mark Littleton. We will be keeping an archive of these articles on this page.

by Mark Littlton

There was a time when I tied all of my own flies. There was something about catching a fish on a fly that I tied that appealed to me. It still appeals to me but lately, Iíve become much less of a purist, I buy a lot of the flies I need. The simple fact is that I am just too lazy to tie all of the flies to fill my boxes. Itís not that I donít like to tie flies, I kind of do like it, itís just that there is almost always something else I would rather do. Priorities - the last refuge of the lazy.

I buy almost all of my nymphs. You lose so many of them on the bottom that it just doesnít make sense to me to tie them when I can buy them for less than a dollar apiece from on-line discounters (like www.hillsdiscountflies.com). It takes me between five and ten minutes to tie a fly. My time may not be very valuable to anyone else but itís all Iíve got. The commercial flies I buy are tied better than the ones I tie myself - they are perfect. Those people in the third world must have tremendous dexterity.

If I could buy all of the different patterns I need, I probably would. The problem is that some of the flies I want donít look so perfect. Some of the patterns I need have bodies that are too fat or hackle that is too sparse. Flies like this are unmarketable, no human would buy something that ugly and the fish donít have any money. For example, Randal invented a pattern for pale morning dun hatches that is way too big, the wrong color and tied with this awful ratty furnace hackle. No one in their right mind would buy this fly, or even take it if you gave it to them, but it can work like magic at certain times of the year. I have a caddis emerger pattern that looks something the cat coughed up. My theory is that birth is not a pretty process and emergers should be tied accordingly.

I also tie almost all of my dry stonefly patterns, they are much uglier than the store-bought ones but the fish seem to like them better. I tie them fat and sparsely hackled, and sometimes I tie them in unusual colors and extra large sizes. I also mess up the wing before I start casting, it may be my imagination, but they seem to work far better this way (this idea came from the observation that the more chewed this pattern is the better it works). I am working on a pattern that has a permanently messed up wing, Iíll have to tie that too because you couldnít even pass something like that off as a factory second.

Even though there arenít that many special flies that I need to tie myself, I almost never have enough of them when I need them. When I was more gung-ho, I wouldnít leave the house without at least six of the pattern I thought I would need. Now I am much more likely to tie two right before I go fishing and think to myself ďI better be careful not to break any offĒ on my way out the door.

As long as the trout have this quirky preference for ugly flies, I guess I am stuck tying at least some of my own; the absolute minimum required.

More Trout Bum Articles:
05/01/2015: The wolves will always eat the sheep by R.Sumner
11/17/2014: Red Fish Redux by R.Sumner
08/01/2014: Retirement by R.Sumner
07/02/2013: Custom by Randal Sumner
05/01/2013: Subaru Magic by Randal Sumner
01/19/2012: Ding Ho by RandalSumner
04/06/2011: A Cautionary Tale by Randal Sumner
01/26/2010: Redfish Round-up by Randal Sumner
11/24/2009: Kentucky Don and English Bob by Randal Sumner
08/25/2009: A word about Bears by R.Sumner
06/30/2009: Polar bear hugging by Randal Sumner
01/27/2009: Christmas letters by Randal Sumner
11/25/2008: Trip to Eden by Randal Sumner
08/07/2008: Mime Time by R. Sumner
06/02/2008: fuel vs fishing by R. Sumner
05/01/2008: Long sleeve Hawiian shirt by R.Sumner
02/07/2008: The Empire by R. Sumner
11/29/2007: Troutbum self-help by R. Sumner
09/04/2007: The Perfect Client by Randal Sumner
07/02/2007: High Anxiety by R.Sumner
03/29/2007: Grasshopper by Randal Sumner
01/25/2007: Chinese food by R. Sumner
11/30/2006: Old Whitey by R.Sumner
09/28/2006: Chief Holland USN retired by R. Sumner
07/10/2006: BBQ by R.Sumner
05/30/2006: Cashmere by R. sumner
03/30/2006: Sterling Choices by Randal Sumner
01/26/2006: Tying with Pablo by Randal Sumner
12/01/2005: Brrr by Mark Littleton
11/24/2005: Thanksgiving 2005 by randal Sumner
09/01/2005: Anchors Away by Mark Littleton
07/01/2005: Some kinda fun by Randal Sumner
05/01/2005: The Base Lake by Randal Sumner
04/01/2005: Humble Pie by Mark Littleton
03/01/2005: Dance monkey dance by randal Sumner
01/01/2005: Where are the Instructions? by Randal Sumner
12/01/2004: Das Boat by Mark Littleton
11/01/2004: What me Worry? by Mark Littlton
09/01/2004: Falling In by Mark Littleton
08/01/2004: Ice Fishing by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Honey, I flooded the basement by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Elvis Lives by Randal Sumner
06/01/2004: Coyote by Randal Sumner
05/01/2004: Redfish and Capt. Dan by Mark Littleton
04/01/2004: Vested Interest by Randal Sumner
03/01/2004: Are you a Troutbum? by Mark Littleton
12/01/2003: Christmas presents by Mark Littleton
11/01/2003: Oklahoma by Randal Sumner
10/01/2003: Steel heading JuJu by Randal Sumner
09/01/2003: Motor Home by Randal Sumner
08/01/2003: Life is Funny by Mark Littlton
07/01/2003: Deschutes by Mark Littleton
06/01/2003: Class of 2002 by Randal Sumner
05/01/2003: BOAT FISHING by Mark Littlton
04/01/2003: ALASKA, LAND OF THE MIDNIGHTBLUE TARP by Randal Sumner
03/01/2003: MARCH BROWNS by Mark Littleton
02/01/2003: DEEP IN THE HEART OF IDAHO by Randal Sumner
01/01/2003: TOP TEN by Mark Littleton
12/01/2002: SAN MIGUEL by Randal Sumner
11/01/2002: DISNEYLAND by Randal Sumner
10/01/2002: CAMPING by Mark Littleton
09/01/2002: MMMM MAYFLIES by Mark Littleton
08/01/2002: CARNEGIE HALL by Randal Sumner
07/01/2002: CRAWFISH PIE by Randal Sumner
06/01/2002: Sons and Pals by Mark Littleton
03/01/2002: Visitation by Randal Sumner
02/01/2002: Ouch by Mark Littleton
01/01/2002: Death by Randal Sumner
11/01/2001: Leakers by Randal Sumner
09/01/2001: Poser by Randal Sumner
08/01/2001: Snake River Diary by Mark Littleton
08/01/2001: It's Hard by Mark Littleton
07/01/2001: Etiqutte by Randal Sumner
06/01/2001: June by Mark Littleton
05/01/2001: Road Trip to Paradise by Randal Sumner
04/01/2001: What Are They Doing Up There? by Mark Littleton
03/01/2001: Gear by Randal Sumner
02/01/2001: Soft Hackles by Mark Littleton
01/25/2001: Motivation by Randal Sumner
12/28/2000: Winter Fishing by Mark Littleton
11/30/2000: Old Blackie by Randal Sumner