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O’Brien Outdoors: Winter Doldrums; Fit To Be Tied
By Mike O Brien
January 26, 2010
Ardent anglers carry a fiery passion deep within. They approach the sport with an unquenchable thirst that necessitates never-ending involvement. Finding a connection in the days away from the water is crucial, especially during the winter months; for it is now when opportunities to fish are limited. Through diverse discoveries we remain connected to our avocation. No matter the course, each participant finds something special and satisfying.
The angler’s art takes them in many directions. They experience the joys of their sport in countless ways. Building fishing rods, making lures or plugs, or tying flies are all wonderful pastimes that bring fishermen full circle, keeping them involved during the off-season. Gratification in fishing possibly comes as much from preparation, as from participation.
No greater pleasure comes to an angler than the victory felt by catching a fish on a fly they have tied. This exuberant feeling escalated when the fly has been personally created. At one time or another all fly tiers let their creative imagination cultivate a concoction that they proudly call their own. Bits of fur, feather and tinsel (and synthetics in the modern world of fly tying) are attached to a bent piece of steel. Flies are fashioned to resemble some natural food upon which the fish feed, or are just colorful or have enticing movement when fished that is supposed to attract the finned predators by appealing to their reflexive instincts.
Don’t let the finished product intimidate you. Tying flies is not difficult, but reaching a level of certification among serious tiers takes years of practice and discipline. However, it is easy, even for children, to assemble a few flies that will catch trout, bass or bluegills. Flies consisting of one or two materials are easy and quick to construct. If fact, some of the best fish-catching flies of all time fall into this category.
If you, a family member or friend have an interest in learning to tie flies there is no better way of getting a solid start than attending a class offered by a professional. Although many self-taught tiers have reached incredible levels of proficiency, you will save countless hours and frustration by watching demonstrations and receiving hands-on help. Attending one of these classes is also a wonderful way to get a youngster more involved with the sport. Those youthful hands are incredibly dexterous; probably from all the use they get playing video games or text messaging.
The Country Store Fly Shop in Waterville, 570-753-8241, holds winter fly tying classes with noted fly tier Dave Rothrock, who is known for his beautiful and effective nymph imitations. Call for dates and times.
E. Hille- The Anglers Supply House, Inc. in South Williamsport 570-323-7564, offers fly tying courses and rod building classes. The fly tying programs are usually 4-week classes with pre-registration required. Call for details and dates.
Gander Mountain-Williamsport Store (Pennsdale) 570-546-1040, will be holding fly tying classes beginning in February. Contact the store for their schedule.
For those individuals that can not fit one of the fly tying classes into their busy schedule or prefer to work in the comfort of their own home, the second edition of The Complete Book of Fly Tying by master fly tier Eric Leiser comes highly recommended. Originally published in 1977, the 2008 edition provides fool-proof directions for tying all types of flies. Included are basic instructions for tying the various types and styles of flies, and patterns for the most important flies in each category. Step-by-step illustrations by master tier Dave Whitlock and photographs by Gus Nevros give visual reinforcement to Leiser’s immensely helpful discussion of tools, materials, and their characteristic behaviors during the process of tying.