This month I'm celebrating a very minor anniversary in the grand scheme of things. It was a year ago this month that I took up the absorbing hobby of fly tying. Before I go on I need to back up a little. At the end of 2009, while tooling around on the internet looking at various fishing articles I came across a small reference to something called Tenkara. Interested, I search for all the info I could get my hands on (which at the time was very little). After researching Tenkara and going to www.tenkarausa.com for an idea of what was available, I decided that Tenkara was my ticket into the world of fly fishing. Fly fishing for trout was something I had always wanted to do since I was a kid. Little did I realize that taking up Tenkara was like getting my first taste of crack. Tenkara accounted for 90% of all the fishing I did last year. I'm sure there were a number of striped bass that were pretty happy about my choice. Prior to purchasing my Yamame, I decided that I would also enjoy the satisfaction of catching a fish on a fly I tied myself. If I thought Tenkara became addictive, fly tying was the other side of the same coin. In anticipation of getting my Tenkara rod I purchased a fly tying tool kit from Cabela's and some tying materials and dove head first into whatever book about fly tying I could get my hands on. Before I had even made my first cast I was tying various classic wet flys and dries like Fran Better's Haystack. I then became drawn to soft hackle flies tied in the north country or spider tradition. Their simplicity, ease of tying and effectiveness made me a convert. From there it wasn't even a hop-skip-and-jump to tying sakasa kebari (which are now my favorites if you couldn't have guessed by now). However, I like to be creative. I like the different qualities of many of the types of flies I have learned to tie and therefore try to combine them whenever I can. Most of the flies I have previously posted are the result of this effort. In Tenkara fishing, it has been demonstrated that with the right techniques anyone could fish one pattern only and catch fish. I agree with this, as on many occasions I have fished only one or two patterns in a particular day and caught plenty of fish. However, from a fly tying perspective tying a single pattern of anything would become boring real fast, so, I keep thinking up new patterns to tie.
Cardinal Sakasa Kebari
Now, I have had many hobbies over the years. Most of them cause my wife to roll her eyes and say to her self "what dorky thing is he up to now" or "what happened to....?" I have tried many things including, flintknapping (making stone arrowheads from ancient tools), carving moose antler, or scrimshaw using mammoth ivory. All of these hobbies have had something in common. They were all related by trying to be creative with using natural materials that come from nature. For one reason or another many of these hobbies were laid aside. But I think in fly tying I have a winner that may last a lifetime. It is a relaxing hobby which allows me to creatively use natural materials from an artistic point of view but more importantly for an outdoor activity that is fun and could potentially have survival ramifications if ever need be. If you fly fish or not I would highly recommend it. In my next post (part II), I am going to give some pointers to any beginers out there based on the experiences my first year.