Beginner fly tiers struggle with many things, but especially with over-dressing their flies. Even accomplished tiers can struggle with excess bulk. Just this week I had to remind myself that “less is more” when tying up a batch of mayfly nymphs. This has happened before, so adjusting wasn’t as hard as it is for a beginning tier.
A long time ago, I came up with a mental exercise, which then translated into a physical exercise, which resulted in my own flies becoming slimmer, sparser, buggier, and (I believe) more effective. The exercise is something I call “One Less”.
The way it works is you sit down and tie a fly. Then, you tie it again, but with “One Less”. That means, using one less tail fiber, or one less wrap of thread here and there, or one less pinch of dubbing, or one less turn of hackle. Maybe you do “One Less” of several things at once. Then, have a look at that fly, assess the result, and tie another one. But this time, tie it with “One Less” than the last one you tied. Keep repeating this until you reach the limits of what you can do while still retaining a fly which meets the goals of your fishing.
That’s all. If nothing else, you will be practicing some useful tying skills, and building some variation into your fly selection. And maybe next time out fishing, “One Less” of something on your fly will turn into “One More” fish on your line.
Take Care and Fish On,