Posts Tagged ‘beginners


Fly Tying Classes: Christmas gift?

green + BH pupa-fly tying-SwittersB-macro photography

This is my yearly suggestion to give the man or woman, young and old, in your life, a series of beginner’s fly tying classes during the Winter/Spring. Most fly tying shops, community colleges, or private instructors offer classes geared toward those fumbling fingers. Once the basics are learned, on line tutoring is abundant and/or additional intermediate/advanced classes maybe available.

bare hook

The essential, bare canvas of fly tying

Fly tying will totally enhance their fly fishing experience. Catching fish on their own creations takes the pursuit to a whole new level. Their understanding of their surroundings and the fish’s environment will necessarily expand as they study habitat, entomology (bugs) and what fish consume. The artistic, creative side is ever present as they tie basic, traditional patterns but think of new directions in size, colors, design. Patterns range from the simple (the ones I have displayed here) to the more complex and more artistic.

It is a great gift idea. Check with your local shop, if you have one, re if they offer classes or who might teach classes in the area. Last resort: gift certificate for vise and fly tying tools with a few starter materials and the more cumbersome on line tutorials are a way to go too.

wet fly-blue wire-fly tying-macro photography-SwittersB


Fly Fishing: A Beginner’s To Do List

Blushing Bow SBThis is not one of those pieces about use this fly here or there and boy howdy hold on cuz Mr. ‘Bow will set your adrenaline flow to new levels. It is a rather a few suggestions, around the edges of that how to portion of fly fishing. Just some things gathered from years and years of  ‘#%&#! how did I forget that?’ or ‘how did that happen?’

Perhaps this is only borne out of my feeble memory and some faint blurps of ADD, but I need lists. Not obsessively, but just enough to organize a past time that I do not get to do so often that grabbing this and that is second nature. There was a time when all my gear was always in my rig and basically ready to grab and go. I fished at least three times a week. Not so much anymore, hence a list, to compare to, would be a good idea if you are a fly fisher that cannot always  get onto the water or is just beginning.

Divide the list(s) into the usual rod, reel, extra spools, fly boxes, and all the other little do-dads that accumulate. But, also add or remember to note: first aid kits, extra clothing after you accidentally submerge yourself in ice cold waters, the small over night survival kit because you didn’t properly study the area you ventured into…are lost…and oh, you didn’t bother to tell anyone where you were headed to (well right there are some items to remember on your check off list). 

There are various layers of complexity to fly fishing and it is deceptive that way. Grabbing the rod and a single fly box to wander down to the stream’s edge for a couple hours of probing  is simple enough. But, bigger, longer outings, like camping trips, vacations or those life time expeditions on dream trips requires more planning and lists (modified and tweaked over time). They are a great tool. A weekend trip definitely suggests a check off list. I won’t embarrass myself here mentioning what I have arrived without on special outings.

I frequently bring this up, probably again given my own short comings, about fitness once you are past that well honed fitness level is of importance this time of year. If you have not maintained strength and flexibility and Winter has taken its toll on your health then at least be cognizant along the water’s edge of that and hike, climb, descend, wade carefully at first. Feel the fatigue, the heavier breathing and the slight stumbles. In the early season move a little slower and more carefully. Take breaks.

A few other things that assist in small ways: go with others to fish and observe and learn. Solitude is great for sure, but outings with others to include a guide if you can financially swing that is extremely helpful in learning all the various skills  one wants to improve upon. Yes, there are many opinions about how to do this and that like in any how to endeavor, but in time you will put your routine together and make it you own…bad habits and all.

Study stream flows, stocking schedules, maps, visit fly shops if one is nearby, go to fly fishing and tying expos and, of course, just cruise the net gathering all the wonderful wisdom.

So right now, contemplate the creation of the list, the master checklist. Compare against that list several times through out the season. Then get out there as the season openers commence. Best wishes!

Blushing Bow SB2


A Father’s Confessions (flyfishing partners….or not?)

Patience, enormous patience. No exceptions. Intellectually you know this. Cause and affect. I have three sons. Wonderful young men. But, at times I have done my best to undermine their self-esteem and trust. The only explanation, that is the bedrock of a poor explanation, is that I was self absorbed and consequently too selfish to truly focus on the little person beside me. Yes, I expended just enough energy to set them up with a rig, but of course as happens, they ran afoul of snags, line twist, loops, tangles and branches. My response was impatience to what should have been the clearly inevitable result of turning ones back on a little guy. In time, they improved but there was an edge to them. What edge? A nervous edge. An edge from fear of disappointing me or worse angering me. Did I hit them? No. But, you don’t have to. A look, a tone, body language, spoken words do the deed. Several embarrassing events took place over time that I am truly ashamed to recount. Too embarrassing and paint me for what I was: selfish. These lessons in cause and affect spill over into their future life….don’t ever doubt it. 

Thank God…no dancing around it…thank God I woke up. I love my sons and have reflected upon how easily we can influence them for better or worse. I write this to tweak someone, anyone, who is so self absorbed or possibly self aware enough to know they have done harm…fix it! It won’t happen right away. But, it can happen and a few, ‘I love you’s’ and hugs will go a long way to repair the strains and set you upon a good course. The progression I used aside from showing patience and love was as follows: shore side folding chairs, treats, small rods and reels, power bait, casting for them and letting them reel in the catch, making it all about them, keeping it relaxed, pictures of them. Then later, teaching them to cast spinning reels and casting bubbles with a short leader and fly. Slowly reeling and hooking fish. Developing confidence in a fly (Renegade, Elk Hair Caddis, Adams). This took 3-4 years. When I fished, I fished alone. I spent time with them and then only focused upon them. Only several years later did I place a fly rod in their hands and by now I was much more patient. All my sons are excellent flyfishers. I don’t take credit for some great success. I only constantly reflect upon how easily we affect our children. With all the other negative influences out there that wage war on your child’s development, don’t be anything but a positive bulwark against those negative influences.

Fathter and son. Fishing partner and friend. It is there for a brief time. Maybe longer if lucky. Reflect upon how special it is. Of course, this equally applies to our little girls…our daughters too. But most prominently our sons are our canvas. How will your son treat his son, daughter, girlfriend or wife? Patience, enormous patience.       


Swittersb Blog Flyfishing Flytying Northwest Beyond

 Wet fly (Stella’s Seducer) comprised of size 14 pupa hook, black wire body (note the green metallic glint visible to the camera), copper and green dubbing, starling hackle and a gold bead head. Now, I spose this is a wet of sorts, but I tied it as a caddis pupa/wet fly. If I added a tail I would consider it a mayfly wet. Great for trout to salmon/steelhead/sea run cutts.













Beginning Flytying…some suggestions


As someone who teaches flytying, here are a few general suggestions to focus upon, and in time, it will enhance your finished product and satisfaction:

1. Learn proportioned application of the materials along the shank of the hook.

2. Use the smallest thread you can consistently apply pressure to without breaking it. It is ok to start with 6/0 but move to 8/0. Eventually, you can be daring with even finer threads for size 18’s and smaller.

3. Don’t crowd the materials  forward and crowd the eye of the hook. Leave room for a thread head to adequately secure the fly.

4. Don’t over dub material to the hook. Start slow and add slowly so the dubbing doesn’t roll off the thread.

5. When you finish one pattern put the materials for that pattern away before piling more on your tying station. If you don’t it will soon be an archaeological dig to find various materials.

6. Learn the pinch technique when applying materials to the top of the shank. This will help stop the materials rolling over the top of the hook to the far side.

7. Hold the bobbin in your hand and keep your thumb and forefinger back where it belongs. Don’t creep  you fingers up off the bobbin to the point your are actually holding the thread by the fingers and not even using the bobbin as a guiding tool. You will be much more precise utilizing the bobbin.

These are only a very few suggestions after teaching a class last night and observing techniques.      

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