It’s that time of year; if you live in the north, most of the waters are frozen and, for the most part, you have to put your equipment away for the season. Holidays consume much energy and help distract from the fact that you are suffering from withdrawal. This is when fly tying season explodes, as we anglers are not willing to give up the ghost and we need hope to get us through to next spring. Many new fly tiers will be born in these next few months.

When you start to tie your own flies, a pattern emerges. Usually the first few flies you tie, (be it a new pattern or an old, familiar one) tend to fall short of expectations and end up in a “special” Plano-like box collecting dust, because you can’t bring yourself to fish them once you have rejected them.

When I first started to tie, my mentor understood this about all beginning tiers and would inspect the first three or four replicas. As he came around and picked one up from my pile of examples, I would hold my breath in hopes it would pass inspection. Old timers have a special way of giving you a hard time once you are in the inner circle. One of the ways to tell is if they feel comfortable enough to joke with you and laugh with you. I’d often get critiques like this: “Your tail is too long. Your hackle is not sparse enough. The big ears on that Catskill dry are so big it’s going to do a nose-plant when you cast it.” If he was really feeling devilish, he’d just throw it in the trash and say,

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Photo by Nome Buckman

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Photo by Nome Buckman