Fly Tying: Less Is Better & Experiment

Fly Tying: It is a frequently read axiom that less is better in fly tying. Yet we (I) seem to go for the ever more complicated or many variations ad nauseam. Part of the enjoyment for fly tying is experimentation and unique creations. I wouldn’t suggest anyone tie anything but what they deem worthy of an experiment at the vise and on the water. Rigid standards and must do’s ruin the experience for me.

I have fished beside fly fishers with experiments in white, pink and yellow variations of Woolly Buggers on lakes. My initial thought was ‘what a waste of time’. Of course they caught fish, in some instances quite a few. The beauty of such moments is it keeps the mental doors open re experimenting and keeps that inquisitive part going of asking ‘why?’. 


Such was the case with this early variation of a pattern I ‘dubbed’ the Lil’ Grey Nymph. A very simple fly to tie, the fly has been an experiment that has consistently produced for midge hatches and to a lesser extent for mayfly hatches, acting as an emerger in the film.

The macro lens shows this fly I found tucked away in a box,  tarnished, corroded, the size 18 hook carrying the materials that were snipped and lashed and varnished. Seemingly a mess, the fly probably produced although the box had been tucked away in a garage drawer for several years and forgotten….I can’t remember.

The point of this piece is partly experiment with your tying, keep your mind open to possibilities, usually keep it simple and when you come upon old experiments see if the spark is still there to try that idea again.


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