I have only recently taken to fly tying in the last two seasons. For me it was yet another interest to fill already 'at capacity' cupboards with even more kit!
However over the years I felt something was missing from my fishing. The one component missing was tying imitative fly patterns to match the varying stages of insect life on any given beat and day. Although convenient, shop bought flies are often 'over-dressed' and my personal bug-bear...barbed!
From the start, my strategy has been to...'keep things simple' I have bought good quality materials that fit into a small tool box and spent the absolute minimum on a vice (£11!) I have had some advice from some very good tiers and the owners of Cookshill Flytying, Spiders Plus,Lakeland Flytying and the lads at John Norris. Purchases were made and I set to work...self taught!
To be honest my first few attempts were.......somewhat agricultural. But I just stepped back and simplified things. Some very uncomplicated nymphs were the first to score success on the bank. This was followed by some very, very quick dry flies. tied with a grizzle hackle. The best was to come with a fish well over 4lbs from the Annan to a spinner pattern...again very simple and less than three minutes to tie.
This season I have stepped things up a bit and have started to tie some emergers and some Parachute Adams type patterns. However, if it takes more than 5 minuets to tie, I'm not interested.
We are now well into the 2010 season and this is my first where every fish caught has been on my own flies, including an early season beauty of 3lbs 5oz from the upper river.
Last week I was lucky enough to get out twice on both upper and middle river beats. Despite low water,both of these visits were great fun. But it was the first visit which lasted well into the late evening that was to be my piscatorial 'Zen' moment. I had just managed to catch three fantastic wild trout on a spinner pattern,from a difficult run that necessitated casting off my left shoulder due to heavy foliage behind me.
In the fading light of that summers evening on the banks of a truly wonderful trout river, with the Pennines as my backdrop, I realised there and then that I had finally closed the gap in my personal fly fishing circle.
I felt I had finally made the links between habitat, quarry, technique , fly life and fly tying. It was quite an enlightening moment and one I will savour for the rest of my fishing days. I'm not suggesting I am now some sort of fishing superstar with all the efficiency of a modern trawler.....far from it! However, the increase in my enjoyment and understanding of fly fishing over the last couple of seasons has been nothing short of a revelation to me.
I just hope it lasts for a while!