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Teaching Fly Tying

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Paul Arden
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Teaching Fly Tying

#1

Post by Paul Arden » Sun Sep 19, 2021 4:13 pm

How many of you teach flytying and how do you do it?

I’ve taught a few people. Not that many, maybe about 100. (I know horror of horrors!!). But I do think it should be taught right from the outset.

The way I’ve always done it, is everyone (usually 2 but sometimes 4!) around a table and we all tie the same fly stage at a time.

What I like about it is that you really get to teach how fishing flies should look, swim and behave. That’s personal interpretation of course!

It’s interesting though because no one gets to learn how to use a whip finish tool because I don’t know how to use one :whistle:

But what’s even more interesting is the ideas you get back from them! The Orang Asli (indigenous Malaysians) I was teaching last year had some really creative ideas. Jassid-looking flies. Ashly has some bowtie looking creation behind frog legs that works. But of course it’s the fish that ultimately steer our designs.

Anyway the reason I was thinking about it is because I simply cannot imagine fly fishing without tying flies. And I have guests who are pretty serious anglers who don’t! One is frightened that it actually becomes an obsession for him, so I’m going to give him a vice for his Xmas and see if it becomes one. :ninja:

Anyway I would love to hear what you think about this topic. I’ve looked at fly tying instructor exams and I think that is sometimes art for arts sake. But maybe I’m wrong! Split starling wings look pretty but I abandoned that very early on from a fishing perspective. Married wings are fascinating but unfortunately unnecessary. But teaching creativity and the basic techniques that allow that to flourish… well I think every fly fisherman needs that right from the get-go because that’s one of the essences of fly fishing.

That’s not to knock the advanced skills because I think it is amazing. Truly amazing. What I do think is that every new fly fisher needs to be introduced to fly tying. Just the basics. Whip start, whip finish, pinch and loop, hackling, matuka and palmering techniques, figure of 8, parachute hackles, Velcro, superglue and so on.

You’re not really a fly fishermen unless you stop for roadkill right?

Cheers, Paul
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Boisker
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Re: Teaching Fly Tying

#2

Post by Boisker » Sun Sep 19, 2021 9:09 pm

I’m always surprised when people who fish a lot don’t tie..... but I know some amazing fly fishers who have never tied flies...

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Re: Teaching Fly Tying

#3

Post by Paul Arden » Mon Sep 20, 2021 3:34 am

That’s interesting Matt, because I don’t actually know any serious fly fishermen who don’t. The only people I’ve come across who don’t tie flies are a few of my guests who SWFF and got in to it in their 40s.
Fly tying and fly fishing are wholly intertwined for me. It’s part of the fascination. But it’s more than that, or at least it used to be. Many flies are simply not available in shops and sometimes when they are are not well tied at all. I was fishing “stillwater” dry flies in the mid-late 80s. You couldn’t buy stillwater dry flies then. If you bought a suspender buzzer it was the size of a hawthorn fly :D

I had an interesting conversation with a friend who’s taken up FFing and he said he looked at the price of flies and decided he wasn’t going to tie because he didn’t think he would save very much money making his own :D I said he was right there!

Cheers, Paul
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Re: Teaching Fly Tying

#4

Post by Viking Lars » Mon Sep 20, 2021 9:08 am

1. NEVER get into fly tying to save money. I honestly don't think anyone can save money tying their own flies. Unless of course you fish Shipman's only and lose 300 flies a year :-).

2. I love fly tying and I've been around more or less everything. From classic wets and married wing classic salmon flies, modern salt water flies, dries, nymphs, advanced tying and simple tying, modern Scandi-style tubes etc etc.

3. Learning to tie... I'm happy I've learned the classics, because it's given me a foundation in fly tying that allows me to tie the flies *exactly* the way I want. Clean, scruffy, dense, sparse etc. And it allowes me to tie efficiently and to tie durable flies. A friend of mine has a handful of Sunray Shadows that I tied for him 6-7 years ago. And those flies alone have caught more salmon than I have have in my entire time as a fly fisher :-). Just this weekend I went directly from size 18 Jassids to 12cm long salmon tubes.

5. Teaching fly tiers from the beginning, I teach 4 at a time, max. I spend quite a lot of time teaching the very basics: From placing the hook properly in the vice, attaching thread, making every turn of thread count, proper preparation of materials and so on. Once these skills are in place, I move on to more "pattern-oriented" fly tying.

6. And for me also, it's definitely a part of fly fishing. I have *never* bought a fly and probably never will. But I fully understand those who do. Some don't have the time to tie or even the time to acquire the skills. Some of course steer away from it because it might become an obsession, as you mention Paul. One of the good reasons I've never taken a rifle license :-). If you fish for salmon, pike, trout and maybe more, the material-collection explodes and is expensive.

7. I know from experieince when teaching that the skills *are* hard to acquire once you "older". Maybe eye sight is failing.

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Re: Teaching Fly Tying

#5

Post by Paul Arden » Mon Sep 20, 2021 3:44 pm

Funnily enough talking about 7, I know that in Canada they were using flytying to rehabilitate soldiers (I’m not sure if that’s the correct word) but I’m sure you know what I mean. Anyway the interesting thing about it was that people who had lost some use of their small finger movements found that they improved through flytying.

Anyway of me it’s about a) the creative element to fly fishing ie inventing and/or tweaking patterns, b) learning about fish and what they want through results (/refusals). After all fly fishing is about solving a puzzle and artificial flies is how we catch them! To miss out on this aspect of fishing would, I think, be a very big mistake.

You know fly fishing is so different from everything else I know, because we have this creativity when tying flies coupled with this incredible method of delivering these flies to the fish. There is nothing else like it.

Cheers, Paul
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Jonathan
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Re: Teaching Fly Tying

#6

Post by Jonathan » Tue Sep 28, 2021 7:54 pm

Paul Arden wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 4:13 pm

You’re not really a fly fishermen unless you stop for roadkill right?
And you can eat whatever is left over. :666:

Jon

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Re: Teaching Fly Tying

#7

Post by Tommy » Tue Sep 28, 2021 11:21 pm

I fish a lot but don't tie a bunch of flies. Mostly I tie new patterns and experimental flies. A good deal of the fish I catch are just on pretty basic flies like Adams, Pheasant tails, Wolly Buggers etc. and I never really get the desire to tie those over and over again, I just buy them in bulk when they're on sale.

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Re: Teaching Fly Tying

#8

Post by Paul Arden » Wed Sep 29, 2021 3:08 pm

I don’t really have them any more because I haven’t seriously trout fished for ten years but those are three flies I used to fish. Not so much the Adams and PTs, I had other flies that I thought were better for the same situations. My Woolly Buggers looked like something the cat would throw up. The good ones anyway. Hen hackles, properly marked Grizzle, a tapered body and hackle, a bigger gape wet fly hook (not long-shank), lead body and tungsten bead and a shorter, barred-marabou tail plucked with fingers. It nailed fish!!! :cool:

Now this is the interesting thing. I think my flies are way better fish-catchers than Thai flies. I’ve sometimes thought that I should drive up to Chiang Mai and teach them how to tie “fuck-ups” :D That would make a great video. “No, you tie the hackle in backwards!” “make it fold into itself!” “Velcro lollipops are your best friend!”

I do however believe that scruffier “fucked up” flies work better. I don’t have the same confidence with shop flies. Maybe that’s part of the reason? But actually I just think scruffy flies work better.

My roots were Stillwaters. That probably has something to do with it.

Cheers, Paul
It's an exploration; bring a flyrod.

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Re: Teaching Fly Tying

#9

Post by Paul Arden » Wed Sep 29, 2021 3:18 pm

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30BCB5FE-B289-4286-A581-9C3EB38819E5.jpeg (22.38 KiB) Viewed 309 times
(Adams :pirate: )
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Re: Teaching Fly Tying

#10

Post by whinging pom » Sun Oct 03, 2021 7:25 pm

The only critic of my flies i care about is mr Trout, and he doesn't scrutinise the odd stray fibre or improvised material. He scrutinises the drag and the drift. Flies for me should be simple with the minimum investment of time or effort.

If there's a trout under the far bankside below an overhanging bramble, and there's a hawthorn behind your back cast, and your concern is your going to lose the fly, then that's a patterns with too much invested .
Also most of the best flies in my box have been through a trouts gob numerous times before, chewed and scruffy seems to do it just fine!

Re teaching; a few times i've hired a local village hall and invited established fly tyers to come and show some simple patterns,to the club members and guests.
We fossick together some extra vices and pool materials, its social occasion for the club, and its a great way of bridging that initial gap for people who've never tried. Once they can tie a simple F Fly and catch a trout on it, they're caught and in for the ride.

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