I need a wee project on the go to give me a bit of focus. With the end of the ’32’ I had to dream up something else to keep this over active mind of mine occupied. It is not as if I don’t have plenty of other things to stop me from hanging around on street corners. Trust me, I have plenty for doing, Helen sees to that.
My fly tying had been sadly neglected of late. With the end of the season now not so far off I figured I would challenge myself to be more creative at the vice. Like many of you, I tie only occasionally through the fishing season but then top up my fly boxes during the winter months. Last winter though I barely did any work at the vice so I am running very low on a lot of patterns. Indeed there were times earlier this season when I ran out of certain flies altogether.
We are all different, for some making flies is little more than a chore, some tie purely for relaxation, some to make a bit of money and others to engage their creative side. I personally find there is a flow of new ideas when I am making flies and it is this vein of conscious thought I want to tap into. Some would argue my fly boxes are already too full of odd patterns but there are a host of other possibilities I want to explore.
At the same time I will resurrect many old patterns which have simply fallen out of favour with me. For example, I used to fish with a Fiery Brown Dabbler which could be deadly on its day but I have not used that fly in over a decade. Will that it still work I wonder? That Green Muddler which I used on the Mask has been absent from my fly box since I left Ballinrobe in 2010! I still have that pattern written down somewhere so it too can be brought back into the fold. There are so many more in the same vein and with a bit of application on my part these can all be ready to try again next season.
My thoroughly enjoyable ’32’ forays across the country over the past couple of years took me to a few rainbow trout fisheries and the discovery that my 40 year old rainbow trout flies and lures are showing their age. So I am planning on having a clear out of the oldies and then make a new box of patterns for the pink-flanked trout. To be truthful, I had forgotten how much I enjoy rainbows and the bug to fish for them more often has bitten me. At the back of the fly tying cabinet there are bags and boxes full of brightly coloured fritz, chenille and marabou to get used up.
That brings me to my fishing and fly tying den. Allied to the desire for new flies or making some of my older ones is the need to use up at least some of the materials I have accumulated over the years. Apart from hooks I doubt if I need to buy another feather or packet of fur ever again. Boxes and boxes of every conceivable material are in the small room just waiting to be used. I have no excuses!
Last winter I left it far too late before topping up the fly boxes, a mistake I am determined I’m not going to repeat this time around, so I made a start last weekend. Nothing too wild or exciting you understand, just a few bumbles and muddlers to kick things off. I found an old metal tin to chuck these flies into and I will just fill this up gradually over the coming months. I’ll sort then out later but for now they can just pile up in one place, a glorious mish-mash of patterns.
I rarely tie salmon flies these days simply because I have boxes and boxes of them already. Apart from days on Carrowmore and Beltra my salmon fishing has diminished to virtually zero. There seemed to be little point in making any more flies when I was not using the ones I had already but with probably 1,000 or more salmon hooks in my fly tying kit to be used up I may need to go back to making Cascades and the like this winter.
Allied to the actual tying of the flies I am going to be working on my macro photography which to date has been shockingly poor. All the bits have been gathered together to make a light cabinet just for this purpose so once I have that built there will be a lot of time spent capturing images of the flies I make. My ultimate aim is to start another blog dedicated solely to artificial flies.
There is another reason for this sudden burst of fly tying activity. The arthritis which has caused me so much trouble over the years in my knees and ankles is spreading now to my hands. That all too familiar pain is now affecting my fingers, making some tasks difficult. For now I can still tie flies but who knows how much longer that will continue. It may never progress beyond a bit of pain that I can cope with or it just as easily could grow into swollen and useless joints and a lack of movement which will signal the end of my fly tying for good. I am hopeful it won’t come to that but regardless time is marching on and I want to stock up my boxes now just in case things get worse. So until I come up with another madcap fishing project I will throw myself into fly tying.