I love tying flies, and I’m quite pleased with myself when I really bear down and tie a couple dozen of them in one sitting.
But I’m not sure I love fly-tying enough to do it full-time, for a living, like Pat Cohen does.
Cohen, 40, of Cobleskill, has rocketed to fame in the fly-tying world in the six years since he first sat down at a vise. He specialized from the start in flies made from stacked, spun and trimmed deer hair, a demanding medium.
At big expos like last month’s Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, N.J., Cohen had one of the most popular tables on Tier’s Row, patiently showing fascinated onlookers how he performs his wizardry.
He’s gotten so good at it that he makes birds — Baltimore orioles, chickadees, cedar waxwings, male and female cardinals — that sell for $45 and are meant for display.
He also makes bird flies for fishing for bass, and said they draw furious strikes. Mouse patterns, deer-hair poppers, even a fly that looks and works like a crankbait lure — Cohen makes remarkable flies that most people never attempt.
These days, he has given up his day job as a tattoo artist and makes his living at the vise — tying the better part of 12 hours a day, six days a week. It’s a lot of work, but it hasn’t turned fly-tying from a passion to a chore.
“When I sit down for work, it’s work,” he said. “The hobby and the love of fly-tying and the job of tying flies for other people are two different things for me. But you’ve got to be disciplined. When its beautiful out and you want to go fishing, you know you’ve got orders to fill and work to do.
“I go through a ton of bucktail for streamers. Obviously, deer belly hair for the bass bugs — it’s crazy how much material you burn through
doing this for a living.”
Capital Region residents who would like to see Cohen at work up close will have their chance Feb. 28, during the annual Cabin Fever Fly Tying Expo at Goldstock’s Sporting Goods in Glenville.
If you’re a fly-tier yourself, you’re sure to enjoy the chance to watch and chat with a number of vise maestros, from the marginally skilled (like me) to the superb.
The event is free, and runs all day Feb. 28 and March 1. Cohen (and I) will be there Saturday.
TU flea market
The Clearwater chapter of Trout Unlimited’s annual flea market will take place March 28
at the Albany Ramada Plaza Hotel, 3 Watervliet Ave. The chapter is taking reservations for tables from vendors wanting to sell items at the event.
A single table costs $20, an additional table, $15. Vendors are also expected to pay 10 percent of their sales.
The flea market is a well-attended event, and a great way to sell gear, books, fly-tying materials and similar items you no longer need to those who would enjoy having them. Contact Bob Mead at 399-9000 or at [email protected] to reserve a table or for more information.
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