Every year during the frigid winter months, I overflow my fly boxes with half-assed tied flies. I don’t buy them that way, they just sort of get tied that way.
When I first moved to Colorado eight years ago I planned on not having a job, at least for a little while. I lasted about two months and then broke down and started waiting tables – my backup gig. Until that day I was lucky enough to go fly fishing about twice a week. Getting the opportunity to wade in to Gold Medal waters on a weekday is something a lot of anglers out here dream of. The weekend warrior has a hard time finding any river that doesn’t have dozens of other anglers fighting for the prime holes. My buddy Ryan had every Thursday off of work, so that was the day he would take me out and teach me to fly fish. If I remember correctly it was on my second day that I caught my first rainbow and I still have the fly – a green copper john.
Back to waiting tables…I was running around taking drink and dinner orders for $2.13 an hour plus tips. If you have ever worked at a restaurant you know that there are contests. The managers make up things for you to sell and whoever sells the most of that item in a night wins. On one occasion I sold the most hot fudge brownie sundays or something and won a gift certificate. This particular certificate could be used at about a hundred different stores. Since I was just starting out as a fly fisherman, I thought the best thing to get would be a fly tying kit. Since then trout have been fooled into feeding on the worst tied flies in the state.
What does winter have to do with all of this? A LOT less places to fish and a lot more time indoors. Since I don’t do any ice fishing, and the only other places to fish during the winter are tailwaters, I don’t get out as much as I would in the summer. I don’t consciously think to myself that I need to start tying flies during the winter freeze, it just sort of happens that way. So out comes the vise and all the materials and I start tying my black beauties, RSII’s, miracle midges, the pearl jam, and a couple of other easy midge patterns. I have gotten fish to bite on pretty much all of the flies that I have tied so I must be doing something right!
This year my wife wanted to have a go at tying. She is an artist at heart and a designer by trade, so creating something like a fly was appealing to her. We sat down for a few nights in a row and I showed her the little bit of knowledge I have about fly tying and she picked it right up. The other day I actually used one of her flies for the first time and caught a nice little rainbow (video proof). I remember what a great feeling it was the first time I caught a fish on a fly I tied myself. It is now only matched by the enjoyment I got catching one on a fly that my wife tied for me. Thanks Karen! Now you just have to keep tying so you can fill my fly boxes with better flies.