Fly Season

Among last winter’s historical wanderings was a re-read of Harry Darbee’s “Catskill Flytier” which led me to blending some of the darker fur on my Red Fox pelt to tie Harry’s version of the Dark Hendrickson.

As I adjust to the end of my dry fly season and my daily love affair with the Catskill rivers, I have yet to wipe the dust off my fly tying vise and give serious thought to the next long stage of angling, though that time is nearing. There have been a few passing thoughts bouncing around in my head, though they have clearly fallen short of inspiration. Fly tying, and more specifically pattern design, require inspiration; that moment when thoughts and ideas suddenly crystallize, and a new design is born!

Mood can be very important, and it can be difficult to find just the right frame of mind to take out the fly boxes that accompanied me during the past season and sort through their contents. That is certainly one of the best ways to begin, for certain flies are tied to memories, memories that drive inspiration.

My angling library is varied, though many of the volumes that merit annual revisiting lie in the realm of older classics. I pour through the thoughts and revelations of Gordon and Hewitt, Shenk, Marinaro and LaFontaine, for there are always fresh clues that kindle new thoughts. Though I read a bit throughout the year, winter reading is a concept that finds itself at home in a Catskill winter.

Inspiration for the designs I call the Translucence Series came simply, as often the best ideas do. I was fishing my old, reliable silk dubbed sulfur dun one bright summer day and, as I paused to fluff the CDC wing, I noted the glowing translucence of the blended yellow silk body. That moment evolved into a system of blended silk dubbed flies tied on Daiichi Crystal Finish hooks with pure white tying silk, and the results of those experiments have caused the bag of my landing net to sag deeply. Reserved for difficult trout on generally bright days, these patterns have solved problems I have often encountered.

A Translucence 100-Year Dun Hendrickson

I have a few goals this winter, expanding the Translucence Series among them. I need a new terrestrial, something special to turn to on the toughest summer days, and that one will take some thought, as well as a thorough consultation with my Cumberland Valley history. In truth, there are a few one-off patterns nestled in my fly boxes that might fill that need, for they were tried quite briefly. Those deserve a significant trial on the water, as does any sound design. For now though, I am still working up to beginning that beneficial task of sorting.

One of the benefits of winter reading comes when the tales of other anglers from the past ignite my own memories. There are thoughts that occur only on the water, often in a moment of consternation during a duel with one particular trout: the character of the light upon the water, the subtle impression of a crippled fly as it drifts into and out of my sight, a closer glimpse of some subtle clue that suddenly becomes a telling riseform!

Winter has just begun, and there is ample time before us to delve into the quiet, indoor world of the angling art.

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