Nov 5th 2020

Why I Tie

"Tying flies started my fly fishing passion, in that I tied before I started learning how to fly fish. I find fly tying to be very relaxing. The process of preparing flies before each day on the water and the anticipation each fly brings with its potential to catch fish is very gratifying. 

Fly tying is a creative outlet, and a way to match the food sources on which fish survive. Tying my own flies enables me to have complete customization in regards to hook choice, types of materials, range of color, and in various densities or flotation. Add the satisfaction of catching fish on flies of your own design and you have a very rewarding facet of the fly fishing lifestyle."

 - Lance Egan 

"Genetics. I was born with the gene( not discovered yet by science) which from a very young age caused me to be obsessed with tying flies and fly fishing, and the obsession has persisted throughout my life. Flies and fly fishing continue to bring me great joy.

Difficult to put into words why I like to tie flies."

  - John Barr 

Favorite Hook / XT040 JB Pupa Emerger

"I began fishing at about age 5, and started fly fishing at 12. Because there weren't a lot of sources for quality flies in the early 70's, it seemed only natural to begin tying my own.

The first fish I ever caught on a fly that I'd constructed myself was a 10" smallmouth bass. Having flopped the little muskrat-fur nymph into a shallow pool of a neighborhood creek, I watched in total disbelief and wonder as the fish swam up to the fly, inspected it closely, then casually inhaled the bit of thread and fur and began to swim away. That moment almost fifty years ago will forever be burned into my visual and emotional memory.

Something clicked in my young fisherman's brain in that moment, and I knew beyond a doubt that I was done with worms. This is what I wanted to do, and the desire to know why a fish would choose to take one fly while turning up its nose at another consumed me. I wanted to know how the fish saw my flies, and why they took some with confidence and had no interest in others. Decades later I still observe something occur during a day on the water, some new fish food challenge that needs meeting, and my mind immediately begins to click, considering all the possible ways to best address this opportunity. 

Sitting down to my vise later I am genuinely excited, thrilled at the thought of creating something new and (hopefully) effective. What hook, and components will I employ? Is there a technique I've overlooked in the past, some new combination of arranging materials on a hook that will prove magic on the water? Can I be satisfied with solving this key piece of the puzzle, while still embracing the mystery that is really behind my love of fly fishing? 

It is this opportunity to create, to problem solve, to possibly tie a fly that works even better than hoped, regardless if I know for sure why, that keeps bringing me back to my tying desk. I would still fish even if I couldn't tie my own flies, but it would be a far different experience for me...thanks in large part to that little smallie a lifetime ago."

 - Mike Mercer 

Favorite Hook / TMC 413J

"Over the past two seasons I've become a big fan of tying nymphs on jig hooks. Fish seem to struggle a bit to spit them, giving me a moment longer to react and consequently a higher strike-to-hookup rate. While there are many great jig hooks out there, my favorite so far has been the TMC 413J. 

Its wire is narrow enough to penetrate quickly and solidly on the strike, yet strong enough to hold a big Lower Sac trout in heavy current. It has a sizable gap, without being cartoonishly wide. The shank length is sufficient to tie a standard nymph pattern, yet short enough to also be ideal for extended body nymphs, and the hook comes in all the sizes I need. And call me old school, but I still like bronze..."

"It’s hard to put into words exactly what it is I find so compelling about tying flies, but you people really ought to thank my parents for buying me that tying kit 42 years ago.

I simply can’t imagine a life without tying flies. I’ve done it since I was a kid, and every day, even now nearing 50 years old, I feel like I get better at it. There’s nothing else I’ve experienced that is as rewarding or long lasting as learning to tie. It’s endless and that compels me."

Charlie Craven

"I believe that the reasons for tying fur and feathers onto a hook go much beyond catching fish, further than any who don't tie could ever imagine. Whether it’s the camaraderie or the creativity, art, or simply a means to catch fish, people are passionate about tying flies for a lot of different reasons. For me, it’s all those reasons and more. Tying has become part of my daily routine, and teaching people how to tie is one of my favorite activities.

Sometimes I tie to get away from the distractions and general busyness of everyday life. I find it calms my nerves and relaxes my mind... I guess it's kind of like therapy for me. Other times my need to be doing “something” takes over, but most of the time I tie to try and pacify my insatiable yearning to convince, trick, or outsmart fish. The thrill I get and sinister grin on my face is not just from actually catching the fish I have cast my fly too... well not all completely.

The gratification also comes more from solving a constantly changing puzzle with infinitely different rules, knowing what it will take to make a specific fish, at a specific time and place, turn on and eat even if it doesn't want to. Tomorrow the game will change, and solving the puzzle that convinces another fish will take a new solution."

 - Drew Chicone

"My day job is a far cry that of a "craft-person." But in terms of personal satisfaction, nothing makes me feel of greater worth than creating something that is tangible. If it is beautiful, practical, clever, and effective, and ultimately brings others happiness and success, all the better. Ultimately tying can check all those boxes for me and at the same time let my mind further explore the nuances of the fly fishing space in hopes of creating something that makes my time and other's time on the water more enriching and productive."

Ken Morrish

Favorite Hook / TMC 102Y

"I love to fish for trout and have always been infatuated with the insects that bring fish to the surface to feed on them. I taught myself how to tie flies even though I could never pound a nail or build a model airplane. Amazingly, my first crude flies caught fish. I felt a strong connection thru fly tying to the insects and the trout I fooled imitating those insects with my flies.

I tied every chance I got, night and day. Then, I was in law enforcement and when I was working a tough shift or had experienced a horrible incident I’d sign off-duty for a short time and tie a fly or two at home. Those few flies tied would drop my blood pressure and probably saved my life! I’d finish my shift then return home and tie more flies. One year I tied 12,000 flies, the next 24,000. I got more proficient and innovative when big selective native and wild trout took my flies. Friends like iconic fly-fishing authors Nick Lyons and Ernie Schwiebert, and Umpqua’s founder Dennis Black inspired me to tie more and begin a small fly-tying business which eventually led to opening a full-service fly shop.

Through fly tying I began to understand there is a higher reality connected to the things I love to do. There’s an implied responsibility to care for a healthy environment that supports clean water and native and wild trout. This inspired more innovation and new fly patterns. That’s why I donate my fly royalties to conservation causes that protect and preserve native and wild trout habitat, and inspires me to continue my love of innovative fly tying."

 - Craig Mathews

Favorite tool / Tiemco Razor Scissor 

"I tie over 12,000 flies a year, mostly small dry flies, #14-#26. I demand the sharpest scissors with the finest points to fashion my flies. And, I need scissors that stay sharp and last several tying seasons. Tiemco’s Razor Scissor is that scissor. My current pair have over 20,000 flies on them and still going strong! The finest scissors known to fly tiers bar none, worth every penny!"

"Fly tier Bob Popovics once said something like “a fly should be tied or designed for the purpose of either solving a problem or filling a need”. Most of the time I tie flies to fool sodium free striped bass that live in reservoirs around the south where I live. The forage they thrive on is young of the year threadfin shad, and trying to fool a striper into eating a fly can be extremely difficult. 

Tying flies to fool a challenging species is part of the fun of fly tying and why I like to tie. I feel the same about carp, single big bonefish and any challenging species that many times refuses to eat feathers. So I guess I tie because of my masochistic tendencies."

 - Henry Cowen

"I tied my first fly with my uncle Jim Cantrall when I was ten years old. From the beginning, I knew there was something special about the craft. Tying flies has always fueled my passion to fool selective trout, but furthermore; it keeps me connected to fly fishing when I cannot get to the stream.

I’ve always considered catching a trout on a fly that I’ve tied (or designed) to be the pinnacle of our sport. Nearly 50 years later, I am still as passionate about tying flies as I was in the beginning.

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of purchasing quality fly tying materials, superior hooks, and the proper tools of the trade. Top-notch flies begin with excellent hooks, that’s why I cannot live without the Tiemco brand. My favorite hooks include the Tiemco 100101248724885262, and 5263. While these are only a few hook models, they are truly the work horses for me."

Pat Dorsey

"I started tying after my first week of fly fishing. I went out and I bought a vise and I've been tying flies ever since then. I can go down in my room and start tying flies and two or three hours can pass and I feel like I've been there thirty minutes. 

It's a way for me to really clear my head and think about other things, not only about the fly I'm tying but the day I fished and had good luck on a particular fly or I'm trying to fix a problem with a fly.

It's something I really enjoy, hopefully I'll keep doing it until I can't do it any longer, until the old eyes give out."

Greg Garcia