I’m going steelheading next week, so I’ve been tying some flies.
This will be my first time on the Salmon River with my two-handed switch rod. I aspire to be part of the Spey fishing movement, which rejects dead-drifting a nymph or Glo-Bug under a bobber and advocates instead swinging a fancy, colorful streamer or wet fly across the current.
There are 300 billion Spey fly patterns, or so it seems, none of which imitate any living thing. So I’m just going to try to approximate a few that use materials I already have and concentrate on fishing them as well as I can.
I’ve also started tying some slightly downsized, hot-colored flatwings — those beautiful and effective saltwater flies made with bucktail, hackle feathers and classy Jungle Cock eyes. I figure steelhead trout are, in fact, saltwater fish, even if their “ocean” in this case happens to be freshwater Lake Ontario.
I know my own history when it comes to steelheading, so what I expect to happen is this: I’ll diligently fish my flatwings and Spey flies all morning, catch nothing, switch to a Size 6 Sucker Spawn under a bobber, catch nothing and go home. Then again, maybe I’ll be in the right place at the right time for a change.
I bring all this up because, at least for me, one of the most fun parts of a fishing trip is tying the flies you expect to need. So I’m already enjoying my outing to Pulaski.
Fly-tying can be almost as much fun, albeit in a different way, as fly-fishing. The Clearwater Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Capital District Fly Fishers are both offering inexpensive fly-tying courses that could be the start of a satisfying, lifelong hobby.
The TU beginner classes will start on Jan. 15 and meet each Tuesday for eight weeks until March 5. Advanced classes will start Jan. 17 and meet each Thursday until March 7. All classes will be held at St. Joseph’s Parish Center, 45 MacArthur Dr. in Scotia, from 7 to 9 p.m.
The cost is $65 for TU members and $80 for non-members, which includes a one-year membership to Trout Unlimited. All tying materials for the classes will be provided, but students must have tying tools and a vise. Beginners are advised not to purchase a vise until after the first class if they do not have one already.
Anyone with questions can contact Doug Howard at (518) 399-8566 or email@example.com. More details can be found at the chapter’s website at www.clearwatertu.org/Classes.html.
The Capital District Fly Fishers classes will begin Jan. 9 and run for seven weeks. Each participant will tie five each of 14 different flies and will receive a spiral bound tying book (lies flat on the bench!), proportions chart, handouts and tickets for tying material raffles. The classes will be held in the evening at the Colonie Youth Center. The cost, including tying materials, is $65 for CDFF members, $75 for non-members.
For more information or to register, contact Paul Sinicki at 885-8257, Rodney Priddle at 664-3509 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes, tying a fly is less expensive than buying a fly. And yes, tying flies is an absorbing, creative hobby and a nice way to pass the time in the cold weather months.
But I really believe the benefits of tying your own flies go beyond that. I think it makes you a better angler. When you’ve built the fly yourself, whether it’s a realistic nymph imitation or a fanciful Spey fly, you have a better sense of how it works in the water and why a fish might bite, and you present and fish the fly accordingly.
You have reason to be optimistic, even when your own history suggests otherwise.