The pleasure of fly tying obviously enhances our fishing experiences. A store bought fly, enticing a fish is fine. A fish taking your creation is the best. As you learn to tie you will follow the pictures in books, magazines, ezines, ebooks, or by looking at flies you have purchased, been given or studied in someone’s fly box or in a little cubicle in a fly shop. More detailed presentations of the fly’s recipe/pattern will provide steps on what to do with the materials. Video clips will show you. All this is the progression the sport has arrived at in the last few years.

Byron Haugh’s Caddis Wet Fly Pattern (photo Hans Weilenmann)

Eventually, as beginning fly tier, and going forward, you will be able to look at a fly and recognize a pattern’s materials, and as with the above fly (Byron’s Soft Hackle) recognize a pure fish catcher. Often, they are simple patterns to tie and simply perfect on the water. You will also, soon see the color variations or material substitution options for many patterns. The above pattern would easily lend itself to different abdomen/thorax colors while retaining the same partridge wing/peacock herl head. 

Speaking for myself, I periodically come across a tying technique and by looking at the fly, I cannot quite tell how they arrived at the look. Examples over the years that I have come across are the abdomen weaves, loop wings, split hackle stems wrapped for an abdomen (Breadcrust).

Truth be told, most of the complicated design techniques are not necessary to catch fish. They are there to expand your tying skills, or relieve your personal boredom with the same old ways. Innovation in synthetics add some zest to tying. Natural materials are often blended with synthetics. 

Where was I going with this? Oh! Keep it simple. Perfect the simple techniques for real. It will show if you don’t. Don’t speed off into more complicated patterns and techniques until you seriously perfect proportions and knowing why your are tying a particular pattern. What does it represent and how is it presented? Otherwise it is like students I have had. They didn’t fly fish. They tied because it was a craft endeavor, like quilting. 

But, if you want to thoroughly enjoy fly fishing, then take that Winter class for beginners or intermediates. If you have been tying, inventory those fly boxes. What do you need to re-stock?

As you commence your Winter tying, pay attention to the first few flies you turn out. Study the proportionment of the materials, the spacing, the durability of the fly. Make a target list on post it. Try not to wander off the list too far as you explore and experiment. Get back to those basic patterns that served you well this past year. Tie those first then experiment.