Andy Dear | Thursday, 9 July 2020

Like most rod builders, when I first entered the craft I became quickly and heavily infatuated with the decorative aspect of the craft. Decorative cross wraps, color change weaves, fancy handle inlays...I tried them all. One thing I noticed though, was that when I was on the water, I rarely if ever paid any attention to the fancy decorations that I spent hours producing. I made a conscious decision somewhere around 1998 that outside of a few single inlaid winds and trim bands, I would no longer engage in any significant amount of thread art.

  I've realized that I come much more from the school of understated elegance and simplicity that is Tom Morgan and Press Powell. And honestly, that has as much to do with a mild to moderate case of ADD, and a desire to be on the water rather than behind the wrapping lathe, than it does from any disdain for decorative intricate threadwork. I am in fact quite jealous of the folks who have the artistic skill and patience to produce such beautiful art. I really wish I possessed those attributes! And, I will say that in the last decade or two that end of the custom rod building spectrum has been pushed light years ahead by guys like Jim Trelikis, Bill Falconer, and many others that have devoted their lives to developing and perfecting decorative techniques.

  I have also found this same love for simplicity in my fly tying as well. My good friend Robert Piparo once observed that many of the most productive patterns are tied quite "rough" and often by professional guides who understand the importance of something appearing "alive" rather than "photo-realistic". Just ask the self-proclaimed "worst fly tyer on the planet" Paul Arden....he certainly understands this concept. In my eyes, the man who popularized this movement in the saltwater game is Tim Borski. While Tim's flies may not appear to the human eye as anything specific, his penchant for creating patterns that don't resemble anything, but look like everything is downright uncanny. His vertical barring technique was a game changing revelation for me when I first saw it over 25 years ago now.

  I was reminded again of the importance of effective simplicity last year when Jackson hooked not one, but two Redfish well over 30lbs on a pattern that consisted of nothing more than a sparse white craft fur tail, a small spun deer hair head/collar, and a small black cone head. Sophisticated it isn't, but I have seen more big Redfish in the Laguna Madre tormented by this simple pattern that imitates both mullet and shrimp, than just about any other pattern I have ever thrown at these fish.

  As are many things in fishing, simplicity for me has become for me, a metaphor for life. All too often I find myself making things way more complicated and difficult than they need to be. I keep telling myself that the more I go fishing the more chance there is that I'll learn this lesson. Whether that's true or not remains to be seen, but if nothing else, it's a good excuse to get out on the water.

Hope this finds you and your families safe and healthy,