Imagination Station

tired of tying flies that look like Uncle Ken's Wooley Bug?

I have heard it a million times.  "Can I tie that in olive?" "Can I do that one without a bead?" "Can I change the marabou for pheasant tail?"  In the world of fly tying, the people who make the rules aren't even people at all.  They are fish.  They swim, eat, poop, and try to stay away from stuff that will kill it.  When assessing what is proper table fare for a fish, the only way to get them to eat something out of the ordinary is to serve it up for them.  

Put more simply, there are no rules in fly tying; only observations that might make one fly more effective than others.  I am an artist at heart, and the major draw to fly tying is that I can create new things.  I started to learn how to tie14 years ago while sitting at a call center answering calls.  There was a guy that had his grandpa's kit, and would tie some of the gnarliest flies I have ever seen.  I had some interest because I liked fishing, and the rest is history.  Had I started with a class, maybe I would have learned proper techniques that followed the "rules."  I think that techniques are important, but I also think that everyone will find what works best for them...  Really, it doesn't matter the method in which you lash junk to the hook, as long as it looks good when you whip finish it.  A good example of this is my Uncle Ken who shows off his expertise  HERE  while he ties his world famous Wooley Bug.

This being said, some of my best creations have come because I took the time to really try to get imaginative.  I will at times envision ideas at night or while I'm at work, and I rush to the vise as soon as I can to try them out.  Some are ugly pieces of junk, others have mightily impacted my fishing.  

  • Example #1:
    • The Grumpy Frumpy.  I wanted an attractor fly that shared characteristics of my favorite flies.  I also wanted the fly to be very durable.  This fly was a work in progress for several months, and the end product was a fly that had characteristics of a humpy, royal coachman, cripple, and madam X.  I then adjusted colors and sizes and realized that it was even good at matching hatches.
Grumpy Frumpy - Peacock
Hook: TMC 102Y #13 - #17
Thread: UTC 70 - chartreuse
Tail: Flytyer's Dungeon shuck yarn - brown
Body: Peacock
Overbody: Rainy's Evazote - olive
Wing: Poly yarn - white
Hackle: Brown
Legs: Medium round rubber - natural
Marks on legs: Black sharpie

  • Example #2:
    • The Cheech Leech.  I knew that eventually I'd have a fly named the Cheech Leech, but the fly had to be worthy of the name...  I really didn't fish a lot of articulated streamers, but I knew that if I created one, it would have to have some unique characteristics.  I wanted a fly that would shed water while casting, but would not lack movement when it was in the water.  I also wanted a fly that would have unique movement due to the consistencies of natural vs. synthetic materials.  I ended up with an absolute fish catcher, and a fly that had synthetics in the back and naturals in the front, allowing it to almost shimmy when it is retrieved.  Again, this fly was a work in progress, and it paid off because I thought outside the box.

See the HD Video for recipe and tying instructions.

Sometimes the creative process is based on the need for a pattern that matches a bug, or a certain movement in the water.  Other flies happen purely by accident.  Most of my creativity comes from staring at my tying table listening to the Marley family belt out reggae tunes, and other times I end up doodling a bunch of ideas onto paper (this may or may not have happened at church...)

My final words of advise at the tying desk are to experiment with everything.  Lash it on the hook and get it wet.