Custom. That’s the important word. And having your own set of flies, tied just the way you like, is the key reason for rolling your own. Custom flies are confidence flies. The slight variations on a Hare’s Ear nymph that a fly tyer wraps onto his hooks are what make them more personal, more individual and ultimately more effective. He fishes his own patterns with more conviction, certain that his adjustments and refinements are what make the fly a fish-catcher.
In the beginning, the fisherman chooses a fly with some measure of hope. Maybe a friend recommends the pattern, or perhaps he sees it on a list of go-to flies written on the fly shop’s dry erase board. If the lucky fisherman and fly tyer has some success with the pattern, he goes back to the vise and changes a thing or two. Maybe the gold rib is a bit too flashy, so he substitutes it with copper. He might decide to dub the body in a slimmer profile, thinking it’s a more accurate match for the nymphs he finds living among the weedy limestone rocks of his home water. And when those changes work — when more fish come to the net — his hope for a fly changes to faith. That’s how confidence flies are born. And without tying his own flies, the fisherman doesn’t have that chance.
Truthfully, tying your own flies significantly deepens your involvement in fly fishing. It fundamentally affects the way you see things on the water. It’s another aspect of fly fishing that draws you further into the sport. Tying your own flies provides more control over the outcome on the water, more to prepare for when off the water, and more fly fishing stuff for you to ponder on the way to work.
Forget the idea of saving money. Sure, you can cut costs by tying your own flies, but most of us go a little overboard with the materials list at first. So it takes a lot of fishing trips and lost flies to overcome that startup cost.
With a little restrain, however, fly tying quickly pays for itself. I recommend a decent set of tools, a simple vise and the materials for just a few favorite patterns. Buy only what you need, not what you plan to need in the future. And learn to tie one pattern at a time.
In a few years you’ll have a box full of faithful confidence flies that look a little different than the rest. And you’ll be a better fisherman.
Here are a few more Troutbitten articles about fly patterns:
Enjoy the day
T R O U T B I T T E N