The Partridge And Orange As Tied By Myself
Photo By Austin Green Photography
Some of my fondest experiences in fly tying did not happen at the vise. Sounds kind of strange doesn’t it? My most memorable experiences have happened through the people I have met, the conversations had, and while in search for the truth behind the flies we tie. Many of us that tie flies simply sit at the vise and crank out pattern after pattern because some article somewhere said that this is a must have fly; and after a while that gets pretty boring. Real tying begins when one steps back and looks deeper into the flies that they are tying.
In our world of fly tying, there are many facets of what drive our interests. Many are driven by what is new, different or “better.” Though there are some of us that have found our passion in recreating flies of a long gone era. These flies are the heart and soul of fly tying as we know it today. Recently, many of the new patterns we see coming to market are simply renamed forgotten flies with a slight modification or two; and many of these are blatant copies, just renamed and in a different color. Now don’t get me wrong as there are some truly innovative new patterns out there as well, but even innovation has roots somewhere.
Many times, when getting into the history of flies, you end up wading into deep water quickly. There can either be tons of information, too much to sort through, or barely any at all. In effort to keep this somewhat short I am going to omit the Atlantic salmon flies, one can spend a lifetime on them and never be satisfied. Let us take a look at some common flies that are recreated with regularity. The Partridge and Orange, this fly has been mentioned in written history as far back as Dame Julianna Berners in the year 1486. In over 500 years this fly has proven effective through countless versions and is still for sale through most major retailers. Let us fast forward a few hundred years and take for example the Pheasant Tail nymph. Everybody has some version of this fly in the box right, well yes the American version. Most could tell you the fly was designed by Mr. Frank Sawyer but that is about as far as it goes. How many could tell what the original fly was, how it was tied and fished and why? Mr. Sawyer was trying to imitate the swimming Baetis and would fish the flies as so. The things that he noticed while watching the natural were the manner in which it swims is akin to how we jig a fly and that when swimming the nymph would tuck its legs against its body. Therefore to achieve the fly he wanted it was sleek and heavy and of course easy tie for his clients.
Sawyer’s Pheasant Tail As Tied By Myself
Photo By Austin Green Photography
Throughout the search into the history of a particular fly many variations can be found. In researching the versions of patterns tied by so many of the famous fisherman you will learn many things. Some of the learnings will be all about tying and techniques, trying to tie that perfect fly only makes a person better at tying. Through these branches of a flies history is where a tyer starts to discover thoughts and methods liked and disliked. Many will find that they prefer the tying methods of one or another of fly tyers of legend. One neat realization is that these people were just like any of us, some were doctors, lawyers, or farmers. A select few were river keepers and lived the life of a true trout bum. When diving into the past and finding what is like or disliked it will be natural that one’s own thoughts on flies begin to develop, and with thoughts on flies will come how to fish them effectively. The readings of these prominent fly tyers mixed with the fly tyers own individuality will begin to form a unique identity, not a book copied “fisherman”.
On another level you will inherently learn something about yourself and your fly tying style that you may have never realized otherwise. It is when we truly start to understand ourselves that we become fisherman instead of book smart river floggers. We can read all of the books on fly fishing out there and never successfully catch a fish. Think about that for a moment before saying that it doesn’t make sense! When one spends all of their tying time that simply following the patterns they tend to do the same in their fishing, read the book follow the pattern for success. It’s when we step back and think some, learn a few things about ourselves and how we fish, then let natural application take over and you become a fisherman in the truest of senses. Sometime after a lot of these realizations and successes you will notice how and why you tie flies will change. Fly tying, even the new must have patterns, will take on an entirely new meaning to you.
By Eric Way, Gunpowder Custom Tackle