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17/02/03 - A reputation for hackles

I'm not entirely sure how it happened exactly, but somewhere along the way I have managed to acquire the reputation of being a crap flytyer. And by and large that's a good thing actually.

Flytying can be fun; this flytyer has chosen to express himself through wearing a ridiculous hatOver in Denmark last April, it was Lars who looked in my box, laughed and then asked to see the real one.

“That's it Lars.”
“No, no, really Paul, it's too much… now where do you keep the real ones?”
“There, those are the real ones.”
“Ha ha ha, ze English sense of humour, it gets me every time, now come on, let me see some flies.”
“Those are flies, Lars.”
These are flies? Ha ha ha. Come on, show me the flies you use…”

And ever since, he has been sending me flies – no doubt to ease his guilty conscience – which is great of course, and I'm extremely grateful because Lars is a fantastic fly tyer, and certainly one of the best I have seen. Which is fine, except now I know I'm crap.

Botched flies

But the great thing about flytying is that you can say that you are intentionally crap. You know; scruffy flies catch fish, and so the reason I cocked up the hackling on that one is because that's what the fish want. You can't say that about casting. Some people try to say that about casting of course, you know they say something like, “Well I can't cast for shit, but I catch fish.” And they say it in that way that infers that anyone who can cast for shit, can't catch fish.

As you can imagine, being the international flyfishing playboy that I am, quite a few people ask to peruse the contents of my flybox.

“Sure help yourself.”
“Did you tie these?”
“Only the crap ones.”
“That one's not crap.”
“No, that's one of Lars'”
“Ah… well, that one's crap.”
”Yep, that's one of mine, I intentionally cocked up the hackling because that's what the fish want.”

Tom ties flies on the back of his bumper. Tom also wears a ridiculous hatAnd then they pick out the biggest botch of the lot, and start to scrutinise it…

“Grizzle hackle?”
“Yes, slightly oversized, and pulled forwards so that some of the fibres obscure the eye.”
“And what's that body?”
“There's quite a lot of it.”
“Well it's easy to obtain.”
“Right... it's an unusual wing isn't it?”
“Unique, would you like to borrow it?”
“Erm, no thanks, I wouldn't wish to deprive you of it.”

Over in Spain last year there was unprecedented amount of attention shown to my flies, as you'd expect since they don't get to see all that many English flyfishers, and I started to feel quite self-conscious about the whole thing. They were quite surprised by the rusty hooks, and had to think pretty hard when informed that it was a special camouflage technique I was exploring, and then when they asked to see the dry flies, and I said in fact those were the dry flies they were looking at, they had an argument with the interpreter and called him an imbecile.

Dave and his tips

Last week as well as receiving some exquisitely tied flies from Lars, including some sedges and emergers, which look completely out of place in my box I might add, and so I've hidden them behind a oversize zonker, with a wonky tail (so that it spins, of course), I also received a small shipment from Dave Alexander in Canada, and I now feel even worse about my flytying skills than ever before.

Dave very kindly sent me some lead headed caddis' and a couple of black zonkers. Interestingly he also enclosed a copy of the periodic table so that I could familiarise myself with the atomic mass of lead. He said that that was important, and he labelled it Tip 1. Tip 2 was: “If you plan on fishing a muddler “wet” after tying it on, try stomping the fly in to the muddy bank and mash it in good. Dangle it in the water close by to rinse the mud off, then cast it out.”

Now this is my sort of fisherman, stomping flies into the muddy river bank seems like quite an excellent thing to do in its own right, and well worth going out fishing for in the first place. Of course knowing my luck I'll hook my shoe, adding to the general entertainment – I'll definitely be doing this in Spain when next over, and I think I could get quite good at it.

A botched fly gets the well-earned seal of approvalCatching up and early season demo's

So I'm back in Invercargill once again, this time for a few days. I've been meaning to catch up with Camo-Guy properly-like, and not just the quick “Hello, how's it going – see you later” sort of thing that we've been doing recently. I have to talk to him about important matters of Stealth, and I want to buy myself a pair of camo-socks.

While at the end of the world, I'll be making full use of this time to catch up on a few other matters, such as the Board. There are some interesting threads I want to read, and I shall be doing so shortly, and so if you suddenly find me commenting on a three month old thread you'll know why.

That and I have to edit a Shooting Head series from fly-tying maestro Viking Lars (I must start sending Lars flies by the way – that will disturb him).

And then of course I have to reroute all my flights; my original intention was to hang on out here until the middle of April before nipping back in time for the Flyfair, but I've been offered a demo that's too good to turn down, and it's on the 22nd / 23rd of March for Flyfishing Brinkhoff in Germany (on the Moehnesee), along with Roman Moser, Igor & Nadica Stancev (who I'll be showing my unique hackling style by the way ;-)) and Haakon Norling. Which basically means I'd better start working on my casting, especially since I've been catching fish recently and therefore can't cast for shit.

This year I'll be using 3M's XXD lines and we are in the middle of tracking down a whole new bunch of sponsors for the site to go alongside Loomis. And of course this will tie in nicely with the New Deal coming soon in the tackleshop. In fact we are about to step up a gear, become more aggressive, work harder and become rich and irresistible to women. Well that's what Steve reckons, and he should know.

An intense flytying moment; summoning up special energy to put into the flyAdvanced skills

Anyway back to flytying – here's a tip for you: pubic hair.

There can't be many flytyers out there who haven't experimented with this stimulating material, I'm sure we've all tied a fly using the stuff, hoping against hope that we've uncovered some miracle substance, and it can be particularly thrilling in trying to obtain:

“Are you a natural blonde?”
“Why, sure. Why do you ask?”

But I'm not talking about using someone else's pubic hair, I'm talking about using your own. Using someone else's pubic hair actually makes sense to most trout anglers, especially if it's the female variety, one that they've had to hunt down in a daring night-time raid. Female pubic hair carries pheromones, which as we all know makes flies totally irresistible to fish, and it's why the Booby is such a successful one, and why women catch all the big fish, and why Loon Aquel is better than Gink. It's also quite sexy in a perverted sort of way, or so Lars tells me. And Ben's not any better, in fact I suspect that's why he went to University in the first place, so he could uncover and experiment with an unlimited supply of the substance.

But using your own pubic hair is something else again, and should be done for entirely different reasons:The important trigger marks on this fly are the eyes and of course the red ears

“Grizzle hackle?”
“Yes, slightly oversized, and pulled forwards so that some of the fibres obscure the eye.”
“And what's that body?”
“Pubic hair.”
Pubic hair? Hmm, quite sexy.”
“What – you mean it's your pubic hair?”
“Yes, want to borrow one?”
“My God man, your box should come with a health warning, take it back, I've seen enough; you're sick, sick, sick.”

This week

This week I'll be thinning out the Board a bit, closing some of the older topics. In fact I'll be spending one whole day doing this; it's a mammoth task and one I have been relishing for many months, ever since Steve said it was both necessary and urgent back in September. Apart from this there will be plenty of new content. I have something in mind for every day, although the Friday Movie day may indeed prove challenging and I'll probably run the shooting head series from Lars in its place, at least until I can get a new camcorder.

Have a great week,

ps if the world reflects our moods, I'm choosing my moods, and my mood right now is the Woolly Bugger.

Essential Bush Skills

The start of any flytying good flytying sequence involves squirting superglue on your polyprops
Both alarm and curiousity set in when the polyprops start melting
Putting the lid back on the jar to stop *that* happening again
The flytying proper is underway
Notice the composure, that's true class that is
A difficult bit, you can tell that from the vacant expression
Essential bush skills part 17a; the third hand
Notice my hat here, it's quite important
Snip, snip
I'm not quite sure what I'm doing here, but it's cool
Trimming an oversize hackle that appears to have become trapped in the whip finnish manoevre
Delicate precision work, the hallmark of any good flytyer
The finished fly: A Lunn's Particular
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