Fly tying doesn’t have to cost a lot

Even though November is still a few days away, it already feels like November. It has for a couple of weeks now

Even though November is still a few days away, it already feels like November. It has for a couple of weeks now.

The sky has been that dismal November grey that I’ve come to deplore, the nights are getting colder with each passing day, my bones ache and fishing seems both equally a part of the past and a long way off at the same time.

November is but a harbinger of winter yet to come and I can’t really say that I am looking forward to the coming of winter. Like everyone else who is not able to fly south, I guess I’ll just have to accept its inevitability – though I do so begrudgingly.

On the other hand, I suppose there are any number of things I might consider doing that might, in the words of Bob Dylan “make the time more easily passing.”

Maybe I could take up fly tying again. Other than showing kids at summer camps how to tie, I haven’t tied flies for myself in a good 15 years. There was no need when you consider how many good fly tiers there are around. They don’t come much better than Bill Keown over at Westside Stores.

I first learned to tie flies back when I was about 10 years old or so by trial and error – mostly error. The only guide I ever had was reading articles about fly tying in old copies of my father’s Field and Stream magazines. As a kid growing up on the Prairies, there weren’t a lot of sources of instruction, or information for that matter, when it came to learning how to tie flies. Talk about long, bleak winters there. Be that as it may, over the past 55 years, I have learned to tie a few patterns fairly well, which, when it comes right down to it, is all you really need to know. The trick is to then learn how to fish those patterns equally as well. I’m still working on that part.

It doesn’t really take much to get started in fly tying. A few basic materials such as some feathers, fur, tinsel and yarn, a vice, a bobbin (the thing-a-majig that holds your tying thread while you tie the materials on to the hook) and, of course, a selection of hooks in a variety of sizes. You would be amazed at all the fly tying materials you can acquire at garage sales. I remember once buying an old fur coat just so that I could scrape the fur off it to make dubbing. At the right time of year you can find pheasant feathers on the ground. During hunting season, if you happen to know a hunter or two, you can usually mooch a few scraps of deer and/or elk fur that will likely do you all the way through to next hunting season. The only thing that can, however, cost a lot of money is a good cape of hackle feathers. They can run a $100 and up. You can, sometimes, buy half-capes and of course there are less expensive, lesser quality capes that are good enough for guys like me. I suppose if you add up the cost of all the materials one can accumulate over a period of time, that too can add up – but we won’t go there. My point is fly tying does not have to cost a lot of money – just an investment of time well spent.

There are also usually a number of fly tying classes that are offered – often over the winter months. There is also a lot of information on fly tying available on the Internet.

Most fly tiers that I know derive a certain sense of satisfaction from creating an imitation fly pattern out of a few bits of feather and fur, but for me, the real sense of satisfaction has always come from catching a fish on a fly that I had tied myself.