Getting Wrapped Up in Another Vice
A few weeks ago, a friend dropped by to talk about local town issues, and given that neither of us have had much in-person social contact for quite a while, we made a long conversation of the visit, sitting outside at a COVID-proper distance, enjoying the scant warmth of the winter sun, and indulging in the the male-bonding thing of smoking cigars while pontificating.
Fishing came up, as did fly tying, because we were now in the season when many of us put down our rods and raise a bobbin. My friend mentioned that he doesnít tie flies due to a ďlack of dexterity.Ē I left the comment alone, since many fly fishers see fly tying as unnecessary, given the wide availability through retailers of well-tied, productive patterns. Theirs is a perfectly reasonable perspective and one that I shared for years.
But then curiosity led me to take a class in fly tying, where I learned that while Iím not the most coordinated person when sitting before a tying vise, working with my hands in this manner is enjoyable, as is thinking creatively. And once I got the fly-construction process more or less figured out, I began hooking fish on the flies I had made, which is itself hugely pleasurable.
If you donít tie flies, but perhaps have time and a glimmering of interest, you might want to consider purchasing an inexpensive vise, bobbin, and scissors. Ideally, itís best to have someone instruct you, but you can begin to learn the basics ó itís mostly about thread control ó by tying the Woolly Worm or Woolly Bugger, both of which are simple patterns that will draw hits from fish. Adequate instruction for these flies is available in basic tying books and online. If you find you like tying, then keep at it. Youíll discover itís an activity thatís difficult to become bored with.
Iíve been tying for roughly three decades now, and aside from filling my fly boxes, I tie flies to address specific angling situations ó sometimes they work, sometimes they donít, but that is all part of the fun. I wrap and snip and maybe glue, then open the vise, and a newly formed fly drops into my palm, an embodiment of hope for the coming season.
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