Fly Tying Redux

Fly Tying Redux

My first Salmon fly – the pheasant-winged head-knocker

When I started tying flies back in my 20s some people thought they were too large to be practical. Maybe I’d have better luck knocking out a fish than I would have in actually hooking one. Such hurtful words were painful and launched my 20+ years of suffering from fly-tying PTSD. My only form of solace was, of course, my mother.

Once I determined that I was tying-challenged and suffering from PTSD, I did what any American man would do, I went to my mother. Much to Mom’s surprise she received a fly-tying kit from me for Christmas. At first she thought it was a bad joke. Soon, however, she had signed up for fly-tying classes and was turning out some really beautiful flies – wet flies, dry flies, all kinds of flies. They actually looked like the pictures in the books.

Unfortunately, after almost two decades of cranking out flies, Mom decided to retire the fly vise. It was a sad day when the Boushies had to once again purchase commercial flies. It did cause me to revisit the status of my PTSD. After years of quiet therapy, I decided I was ready to relaunch my fly tying. Besides, I thought that maybe using a lot of Mom’s fly-tying supplies and tools would be good karma.

My reentry into the world of wrapping thread around a naked hook began in early February when I signed up for Orvis’s (free) Fly Tying 101. Not only could I revisit the basics, but I would also receive two coupons and walk home with whatever I was able to tie.

The tying class was taught by Dan Davala, Orvis Fishing Manager, and James Kammel, a fly fishing guide and owner of Catcher & the Fly. There were about 6 other tyers and me in the class. Ages were from the early teens (twins brought by their grandfather) to early 50s. The class was about half women.

Dan gives the introduction

Instruction started with the very basics, wrapping thread on the hook and tying off the fly with a whip finish knot. It was interesting and a bit entertaining watching people who have never seen a whip finishing tool trying to tie a whip finish knot. Eventually, most seemed to get it.

After the very basics were mastered, which took the better part of an hour, we moved to tying our fist flies – a woolly bugger. Wrap the threat, tie on the marabou tail, tie on the chenille, tie on soft hackle, wrap chenille, wrap hackle, tie off at head, add head cement…done. Simple enough. I tied two respectable flies and think that I may be on the road to tying PTSD recovery. Only time with tell.

Remember, I said respectable, not good. I still have a few patterns to figure out and may retain Dan’s services for a couple private lessons.

Things went well enough for me to spend the balance of an Orvis gift certificate on tying materials. I’ll have to show up in NY this year on our fishing trip with flies for my dad and brothers.

Let the tying begin. I don’t know that I’ll get as good as Mom, but if I can catch some fish with my flies I’ll be pleased enough.

Dan helping woman use the whip finishing tool

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