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
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