There are two schools of thought regarding the process of tying flies for use in fly fishing. Some consider tying flies to be nothing but a necessary step in the ultimate quest to land the perfect fish, and make every effort to make it as simple and streamlined as possible. Others consider it an art form all on its own, based on careful observation of fish and the prey they feed on.
When reduced to its elements, fly tying is simply the binding together of disparate materials in a manner most likely to attract fish. Some species of fish will strike at anything that moves but others are more discriminating and must be enticed to bite the hook by making the fly attached to it as like their normal prey as possible.
This is where mere expediency gives way to the art of tying flies—the devoted fly fisherman will make every effort to produce his own flies replicating the look and movement of his quarry’s normal prey, both in general looks and movement, often conducting their own observations and research.
For most fishermen however, the task is accomplished in much the same way a cook might undertake to prepare a favorite meal. By having a “recipe” at hand, the fisherman can choose from thousands of proven designs and not have to reinvent the wheel .
Just like following a recipe, it is essential to have the proper fly tying equipment and the correct materials based on the pattern that is to be followed. There are thousands of fly tying patterns, and many books and websites are devoted to the process. A simple computer search will bring up many hits.
As diverse as they are each fly pattern features common elements. These include:
• the size and shape of the hook to be used (possibly the most important consideration)
• which supplies/materials are to be used as well as their colors,textures and reflectivity
• the sequence in which the components are attached to the hook, and by what methods.
While the patterns for flies are legion, there is always room for creativity and innovation. Every angler has the opportunity to devise and name his own ties, although the proof of a creation is measured in its success in landing the particular fish it was designed for!
Whether approached as a hobby or an economical alternative to buying readymade flies, fly tying can be absorbing experience that can only enhance an angler’s enjoyment of his sport.