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Ronan's report

Wednesday 14th April, 2010

I think that each of us have gravitated to fly fishing and fly tying for our own reasons, but certainly many of us share the same reasons.

And, for some of the same reasons that I’ve become so passionate about fishing and tying the fly, I’ve become passionate about other things as well. Free-heel skiing is my other fly fishing. I love it because it challenges me both mentally and physically. The rhythmic pace and joyful movements of linking turns in deep powder, kick-and-gliding on a perfectly groomed trail, or skinning up somewhere in the backcountry remind me of fly casting in many ways. Skiing takes me places I wouldn't otherwise go, and along the way I meet alot of wonderful people.

I’ve been skiing more than I’ve been fishing this winter, and enjoying every moment. I was out a couple of weekends ago with some friends who also happen to be fishing partners of mine. We found ourselves in an area where perfect snow, interesting topography, and randomly spaced trees made for some incredible and enjoyable skiing. We commented on how a big part of the joy in this type of skiing came from looking at the terrain, knowing your tools, and yourself (both ability and personality), and then choosing a line that compliments all of those things. We all were on different gear and have different experience levels and personalities, and from the same starting points the three of us never once skied the same line, but at the bottom we were all filled with satisfaction.

By happy coincidence, I came across a trailer for what looks to be an absolutely wonderful film on backcountry sliding and riding called Signatures that seemed to hit on exactly the same theme.

The clip features this eloquent wisdom from Japanese rider and board shaper Taro Tamari.

“We are not trying to race down the hill to see who can go the fastest. We are trying to make the most of the terrain. There are so many approaches to the same line, and how you decide to express yourself on a slope reflects your style and personality.”

I started to think about how these ideals and this approach to sliding on snow might translate over into fly fishing. I think many of us have fishing styles that compliment or reflect our personalities. Aggressive, seek-and-destroy sight fishing or patient, cast-and-step swinging might fit our moods on a certain day. How we choose to approach a piece of water will likely have a lot to do with our past experiences, knowledge, tackle, and fishing personality.

Then tonight, as I was working on my flies for the Salmon/Steelhead/Seatrout Swap, I came across another interesting parallel – this time with fly tying. I was having some difficulty finding enough feathers to perfectly recreate 15 flies in the pattern that I chose to share. I remembered having this same frustration back when I was tying commercially for a fly shop that I used to work at. Every fly had to look the same. Sometimes 10 dozen or more. It was awful, both because the right materials were hard to find, but mainly because after a couple of bugs, the creativity, expression and personality were no longer part of the fly. So, for my swap flies, as I do on most of my personal flies that I tie for steelhead, I forgot about looking for clones. I pulled some decent feathers from my partridge skin, and then just went ahead and made the most of the terrain. I paired shorter hackles with thinner bodies and sparser wings to create a low water look. When the feathers were full and webby I was able to create a bulkier Spey or nearly marabou like appearance. The result was 15 flies tied with the same pattern in mind, but each one is unique, making the most of the materials, and my tools, vision, and tying personality.

I’d happily fish them all this summer and fall, but I’m happier to give them away.

Take Care and Fish On,

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