Today we continue our great run of guest posts, with an article on tying ‘confidence flies’ from Dan Huff, the guy behind Angling Obsession. Angling Obsession is a blog focused on fishing the Great Lakes, where trout, salmon, and steelhead provide opportunity for fishing adventure 365 days a year.
Thanks Dan – we’re headed to the bench!
Tying Confidence Flies
Most fly fishermen gravitate toward specific patterns they have had success with in the past. These are confidence flies, the ones we hide from our buddies, and whine about when we lose the last one. The following tips are designed to help you develop more of these coveted fly patterns.
Turn One and Burn One
When tying a new fly pattern, treat the first one as a prototype build. Study the pattern, do your best to wrap the right amount of material in the right places, cut the material off the hook with a razor blade and start over! Although it seems a little extreme, throwing your hard work away, it usually makes for better flies in the long run. While tying the prototype make note of the amount of materials used and where you begin and end wrapping the material along the hook shank. When you’re finished tying the prototype, give the fly an honest inspection and make note of the imperfections. Use these lessons learned to make your next fly the best it can be.
Next step – take your prototype swimming. For those who live on the river, I’m envious. For the rest of us, this means digging out an ice fishing rod and filling the bathtub. Soak your fly and perform inspection #2. Ask yourself, how can I improve upon this chicken on a hook to make it my next confidence fly?
Be a Sweat Shop
With prototyping and testing complete, it’s time to bring your new confidence fly into full production. Tying flies in a production run is faster, results in less waste, and more consistent flies. I prefer to tie about 6-12 flies in a production run. A production run of large streamers may only be 2-4, up to 24 for small nymphs and other simple patterns.
Since you own the sweat shop, take advantage of your free time after work. This is when I make variations of my confidence flies. Try new color combinations, make material substitutions, and be creative.
For those of you who have a quality fly shop near your home, I’m almost as envious as the guy living on the river. Make the most of your fly shop visits by keeping track of material you’re running low on. Hang a clipboard above your fly tying bench and generate a shopping list as you use up material. You cannot tie confidence flies with dubbing in the wrong shade of caddis green.
Little Black Book
Keep a 3-ring binder of your favorite fly patterns. Make notes of your prototype builds and associated lessons learned. As seasons fade and return the following year, you’ll be happy you took the extra time to log your hard work.
Tight loops and tighter lines,