Every top-notch fly angler I know ties his own flies. The only exceptions are a couple friends who used to sit behind the vise but now have friends who tie custom patterns for them.
Custom. That’s the important word here. 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 on the hook are what connect us to the fly. It’s more personal, more individual and ultimately more effective. We fish our own patterns with conviction, certain that our adjustments and refinements are what make the fly a fish-catcher.
In the beginning, we choose a fly with some measure of hope. Maybe a friend recommends the pattern, or perhaps we see it on a list of go-to flies written on a fly shop’s dry erase board. If we’re lucky enough to have some success with the pattern, we go back to the vise and change a thing or two. Maybe the gold rib is a bit too flashy, so we substitute it with copper. We might decide to dub the body in a slimmer profile, thinking it’s a more accurate match for the nymphs we find living among the weedy limestone rocks of our home water. And when those changes work — when more fish come to the net — our hope for a fly changes to faith.
That’s how confidence flies are born.
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 provides you with more control over the outcome on the water. It keeps you involved. There’s more to prepare and more to do when you’re off the water. And there’s more fly fishing stuff for you to ponder on the way to work.
Forget any 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 just 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.
Fish hard, friends.
Here are a few more Troutbitten articles about fly patterns:
Enjoy the day
T R O U T B I T T E N