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How can you tie a fly if it won't hold still?

Larry Woody, Outdoors Writer • Dec 17, 2015 at 6:56 PM

A book I recently completed, "All Fishermen Are Liars" was Ok, except that it was mostly devoted to fly fishing.

I don't have anything against fly fishermen except that they're like golfers: they insist on boring everybody to tears by describing every cast/stroke.

Golfer: "... so there I was, about 130 yards off the green on No. 9 with a slight breeze out of the southeast. I started to use a seven-iron but decided to go with a six, and dropped my shot on the fringe of the green, where the ball rolled down ..."

Fly fisherman: "... so there I was, wading upstream from a riffle that emptied into a deep pool. I noticed some Mayflies on overhanging willows, so I switched from a wet nymph to a No. 12 Quill Gordon and made a roll-cast to the head of the run ..."

Fly fishermen also are obsessed with leader size, line weights, rod lengths, exotic knots, aquatic bugs, barbless hooks, short shanks, backing, reel ratios, matching the hatch and reading the water.

Fly fishing can get awfully complicated.

How come we never hear cat-fishermen debating how much chicken liver to put on a hook?

I used to do a fair amount of fly fishing -- mostly for farm-pond bass and bluegill -- but I never felt compelled to bore folks with the details. I'd just tie on a popping bug and flip it out.

I've caught lots of trout on a fly rod over the years in a variety of waters. One prize -- a small native brook trout I caught in a Wisconsin beaver pond some 40 years ago -- is hanging on my wall. It is mounted with a tiny crimson fly imbedded in its lip. The fly is pure decoration; I caught the trout on a worm.

When I was a kid, under the influence of outdoor magazines, I got caught up in fly-fishing fever and ordered a fly-tying kit from a mail-order catalogue.

It had a vice for holding the hook while assorted fur, feathers and tinsel were wrapped and secured with thread and glue.

Usually I'd end up with more fur and feathers glued to my fingers than on the hook.

Most of flied I tied didn't resemble the models in the book -- graceful Royal Coachmen and Blue Duns. They looked more like something the cat had hacked up.

I mentioned to one of my buddies that I'd been tying flies the evening before, and he -- wit that he was -- wanted to know how I got them to hold still.

But my flies caught fish -- bass and bream from farm pounds and perch, pumpkinseeds, red-eyes and an occasional stunted smallmouth from streams and creeks.

I admit, it was fun to catch a fish on a fly I had tied myself. But I never became a fanatic about it.

In my late teens I drifted away from fly fishing for the same reason that I drifted away from prom queen Mary Ann Whattenbarder -- the investment was too expensive and too much trouble for the return -- and went back to spin-casting.

I caught more fish, and Mary Ann eventually married a rich lawyer, and I suppose that's the moral of the story:

Some of us just aren't cut out for fly fishing.

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