Fly Tying: Blending New & Old (Slow Down)

As a beginning fly tier, it can be a bit confusing. So many patterns. Fly tying is a lot like cooking. There are elementary preparations to learn and learn well before venturing off in all manner of more adventurous presentations. Fly tying is the same. Learn the basic techniques of preparing the materials and attaching the materials to the hook. Sounds simple, but it is the essence of tying that never changes.

Frankly, the beginning tier can be steered by shops, friends, magazines, blogs, the internet in general toward what is considered most important for the tier. My .02 cents worth of advice: tie simple patterns that are proven to catch the fish you are most likely to fish for: trout, steelhead, bass, pike etc. Every species has some basic, proven patterns that are well established. Tie these patterns, while carefully perfecting the basic tying techniques.

Historically, the beginning tier concentrates on trout/grayling patterns and progresses to more complicated patterns for different species. Probably this is not a bad idea. Don’t get pulled afar with all manner of patterns to soon. Keep in mind why you are tying a pattern. What does it imitate? The study of bugs and other food sources for fish is in order.

So: perfect the basic techniques of fly tying; tying basic patterns, study the food sources for the fish and understand how your patterns match those food sources…then study how and when to present those flies to catch fish. Keep it simple. You will often return to basics and simplicity in tying.

Here is an interesting analogy between music (mashing) & fly tying.

You will soon realize there are a gazillion pattern opportunities. Don’t go willy nilly tying this and that. Again, basics techniques and patterns and asking the why’s and how’s. Then venture off into new areas, creativity and traditions. Always have fun!

2 Responses to “Fly Tying: Blending New & Old (Slow Down)”

  1. April 7, 2011 at 20:53

    I totally agree that beginners should focus on techniques and not patterns. There are some simple things that once mastered open up a pandora’s box of possibility and to tie most patterns you don’t need to know more than a dozen tying techniques. It may interest your readers to see a little free booklet on tying parachute patterns available for download from Smashwords. I have almost totally given up on Catskill ties and find that the parachutes are quick to tie, durable and more open to variations of proportion. Anyone interested can get this free instruction from the following link : https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/17437 Finally for the beginner in particular, you haven’t “nailed” a pattern until you have tied several dozen of the same thing in the same size. Practise makes perfect. Regards Paracaddis


  2. 2 craig
    April 3, 2011 at 11:41

    probably because i was self-taught in a non-trout environment my attitude towards patterns is totally whacked. i look at flies as fish flies not trout or bass or….

    the largest bass i had taken until 2010 was on a #12 iwamasa tarcher. the fly that shanged it was a carp fly. it took a couple of 5/6 pound bass, a half a dozen pound and a half crappies, several 8-10 pound carp and one that looked like a shopvac, the same pattern took minnesota browns up to 17-18 inches. fish flies.

    i like simple because i am butt lazy. i like simple because so often it works.

    i met a fellow on a stream in colorado that carried parachute bwo’s, grhe’s and mickey finns. his attitude was, if the fish didn’t want his flies, he would just go the bar.
    he was still fishing and catching when i moved on.


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