I still remember the first fly that I tied, I believe I was 8 years old. I was visiting a friends house and his father was an avid fisherman. He made his own lures, flies, poles and unfortunately left all of this tools and materials laying around when he went to work.
If I recall the resulting first fly was tied on a size 10 standard hook. I tied in, then wrapped a fluorescent green chenille (no doubt destined for a rather famous Steelhead fly), next I palmered over a massive grizzly hackle and finished it off with what I am sure was a massive ugly and large black head.
That day started off an obsession that continued for the next 10 years. I tied every fly I could find in the books at the local library, since the Internet had yet to be invented. I enjoyed tying all kinds of flies and even won a few competitions tying traditional Atlantic Salmon flies.
At one point I decided to make some money from my hobby and began tying commercially. Commercial tying I have since learned is a trap that so many talented tiers fall into. It is a way to quickly burn yourself out and ruin an incredibly fulfilling hobby. As a result I quit tying, moved away from home for college and left fly fishing and fly tying in the past as something I once did.
If you fast forward nearly 15 years to the fall of 2012 a friend invited me on a guided fly fishing trip to a local lake. We went to the fly shop where they sold us some flies which I paid little attention to and drove to the lake. The guide rigged our lines and we caught some fish. At some point our guide noticed that I was able to cast his 3wt effectively in heavy wind. He asked me how long I had been fishing and was surprised when I told him that my life once revolved around fly fishing and fly tying. He was also surprised to learn that after I moved to the fly fishing mecca of Bend, Oregon many years ago, I never tied another fly or wet another line. The conversation that resulted was sort of an expensive ass chewing that I will forever be grateful for.
I went home that night and dug out my fly tying gear and tied a fly. It was like riding a bike, and it felt incredible. The magical thing that happened since I stopped tying back in my high school days was that the Internet (and YouTube!) was invented during that time. When I learned how to tie the only way I learned something new was trying to interpret a technique from a book or during an annual conference where I watched other expert tiers tie. In my first few months back tying I learned more than I probably did in those first 10 years of tying.
The other exciting development was the explosion of tools, techniques and materials used to construct amazing flies. I was in heaven, I bought a Nor-Vise and can not imagine ever tying on any other system. I then discovered tube flies, then dry flies tied on tubes, the sky was truly the limit. I now spend my days when not working; fishing, tying flies, thinking about fishing and researching new flies to tie.
I feel that even though there is a massive amount of information available I have a few tips and tricks that I know that I have never seen published so I am hoping to contribute something for the good of all who stand in a river swinging a stick.
As for the name Western Flys; that is the sign that I burned in wood at the age of 12. The sign hung over my childhood bedroom door until a month ago when appearently it fell and woke my poor mother up in the middle of the night. She called and asked me if I wanted it. When I returned home on vaction a few weeks ago to pick it up, I was suprised at the spelling. I couldn’t tell you if I had spelled it that way intentionally or not. Knowing my weak grasp on the english language at the time the project was completed it was likely not intentional. It was the name of my company that I tied flies commercially under and when I checked the domain name it was available so I considered it fate; $11.99 later and here we are.
Welcome to WesternFlys.com!
I truly hope I provide something of value, please do not hesitate to send your comments or ideas for artcles.