I was asked the other day if I was an innovative fly tyer. I was not sure how to answer that question. I was then asked if I had designed any specific patterns that were unique to the areas that I fish. Again, I had no answer. After thinking about it, I replied by describing myself as a lazy fly tyer; a procrastinator. I tie when I am in the mood or when I have to get ready for a trip. I am more of a “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” fly tyer.
I have never been accused of being a fantastic fly tyer. When I first started tying almost twenty years ago, I tied all kinds of crazy flies. I had boxes filled with flies of all sorts of sizes, colors and shapes. I thought I needed to cover every possibility in my preparation for a fishing trip. And yet, I never seemed to have the one fly that perfectly matched what was hatching. I would run home after each trip and tie what I saw hatching. I wanted to discover and tie the next “classic pattern.” I was a mess.
In my quest for the perfect fly, I was constantly tying new flies and variations of classic patterns in search of that irresistible fly that would catch fish on every occasion. It was my friend Larry that finally settled my tying nerves. We fished together constantly. As I rifled through my boxes in search of “that” bug, he patiently continued to cast an elk hair caddis. While he fished with one fly all day-and caught fish, I went through fifty yards of tippet in search of the perfect imitation.
It was on one of our many trips that I finally gave up and just tied on a parachute Adams. I had had enough of the searching and retying. I was sick of trying to see my microscopic offerings as they meandered by. I was sick of watching fish rise around me and not being able to find the answers in my box of flies. I was going to fish with this fly and fail or not fish at all. That successful afternoon led to an epiphany that would completely change my attitude about flies and fly tying.
Through much trial and error- okay, more error than trials- I have settled with six go to flies that take up space in my box. They will cover any and every situation that I have encountered. I trust these flies and I have faith that they will work. They are my confidence flies and if I present them correctly they will catch fish. More importantly, most of them are easy to tie! These proven patterns are no secret. They range from fur ants to elk hair caddis, from the copper john to the trusty parachute
They have and continue to fill the boxes of many successful fly fishers. There
is no need for me to reinvent the wheel.
I will admit that I have tweaked a recipe now and then and that I have even simplified some of these flies to suit my own needs. However, I will never be accused of being innovative. I tie flies to catch fish. Sure, it is more rewarding to catch fish on flies you tie, but I have never been nor will I ever be one to spend mass amounts of money and time on the bench. Don’t get me wrong, I truly admire those that continue to create magnificent patterns. I marvel at the beauty and efficiency of their creations. I am jealous of their skills and tools. They are artist. Me? I am merely a fisherman.