Yesterday I reached an annual milestone: one hundred dozen flies tied for the year. Now that isn’t a large number of flies for a commercial fly tier, but I am no longer a commercial fly tier. I closed out that vocation when I shuttered my fly shop twenty-three years ago.
I looked back in my logs to compare my production with previous years. Twenty-twenty was my biggest fly year, reaching the one hundred dozen milestone on June 6th, on the way to my standing record of 185 dozen flies for the year. In twenty-one, I reached the milepost on August 10th, so I seem to be right in the middle of my calendar this year. Considering that this has been a comparably slow fishing year, I was a little surprised.
A lot of my tying is driven by fly design and experimentation, coming up with new patterns and pattern variations to try to tempt our more difficult wild trout. I guess I find myself still full of ideas even when the trout aren’t rising.
My interest in fly fishing’s history spawns a number of adventures at the fly vise. Acquiring some natural seal fur allowed me to set about blending the dubbings for the late John Atherton’s impressionistic dry fly patterns, referring to the instructions in his classic book “The Fly and The Fish” and reading his thoughts and reasoning for the designs. Re-reading another classic, Harry Darbee’s “Catskill Flytier” provided another diversion into history, with Harry’s pattern for the Dark Hendrickson and Ed Hewitt’s Beaverkill Red Fox.
For summer, well, of late my time at the bench has been spent crafting sulfurs, tying my 100-Year Duns in sizes I never anticipated. The concept of the design was a better imitation for large mayflies, and yet, I am finding the 16’s 18’s and 20’s to be very effective as well. This morning I added five classic sulfur versions for my chest pack. Hope I will attach a nice brownie or two to one of them in a couple of hours!