Friday, April 18, 2014

Tying, Dying and Trying to go Angling

Well my usual foray into the woods to plant trees in the late winter/early spring on the BC coast is usually full of gruelling hard work in ridiculous terrain.  My efforts are rewarded by a good wage but it comes in one of the most difficult ways imaginable and at times can be quite soul sucking.  Currently the soul suck is on and to top things off I sliced my heel for 7 stitches loading a quad on my pick up and am now relegated to laying down with raised foot for the next 5 days....good time to tie, so out comes the vise and the assortment of synthetics and random dead animal parts.

Assorted Feather Carnage
Obviously the early tiers were hunters and gatherers, how else would one decide to use deer hair, pheasant tails and moose mains for bug imitations.  It's a bit strange to think of that these days as we are surrounded by an endless array of plastic shit in all shapes, sizes, colours and textures.  The petroleum industry has 'gifted' us with a multitude of new materials to create a pattern that we inevitably plan to stick deep into a fish's jaw.

The legacy of carnage that went into the original flies and further into the trout is really quite amazing.  Animals parts were apparently our 'plastic' of yesteryear; stretched intestines were used to make the leaders!!  How twisted is that?  Now I know I may be sounding a bit cynical here and really I should have no business doing so because this was another time, but think about being the inventor of the parachute hare's ear for instance.

You've realized the local lake is spitting out an enormous number of spotted winged mayflies on the local lake.  The trout are up feeding on them with amazing fever so you lightly swat one of the mayflies and bring it back to the farmhouse where you take a seat at your tying bench.  It's not a problem to put this one together because in the last few months you have shot, butchered and tanned the hide of a deer to create the tail of the fly.  The chickens in the coop out back have shed a few feathers for you and fortunately enough the cow had a calf and you slaughtered it for a quick meal and now have an endless supply of highly visible white hair to make your posts with.  The snare you placed in the back 40 managed to snag and strangle a bunny to supply you with rabbit stew and excellent body material for your fly.

Then came the industrial 'revolution' and with that the petroleum bi-product megalution.  Plastic changed how we live, from how we store food to how we deal with massive non-biodegrading landfills.  Without plastic the oceans would look a lot cleaner but without plastic's first cousin foam, we wouldn't have a Chubby Chernobyl or  Fat Alberts....nor would we enjoy hi vis orange/pink posts.  With the ugly comes some good and I often battle with the pluses and the minuses of the petroleum industry and it's products, but I am definitely greatful to have a multitude of tying materials in a plethora of flashy colours.  Nature has a way of creating some amazing colours, especially those created by the feather bearers but I'd rather see those colours stay on their wings and bodies and prefer using the synthetics when I'm looking for colour....except when it comes to peacock.


The colour spectrum within a peacock herl is vast....from turquoise to brown to iridescent green and it's found it's way into so many patterns and can simply not be replicated by any synthetic material.  Thankfully it's readily available in Southeast Asia and is easy to raise so we don't infringe on it's survival as a species as some other birds such as the jungle cock were threatened due to the value of it's feathers.

A lot of tiers have a preference to using natural products; the traditionalists who like delicate presentations with bamboo rods often fit into this group.  The newer generation of fly anglers don't seem to mind throwing a combination of anything as long as it brings fish to the hooks and I'm an advocate of that.  Hats off to those who developed the traditional patterns but as more materials are discovered the more diverse fly patterns become and I'm all for a multitude of fly boxes filled with an endless amount of's brought the fly fisherman to the craft stores.

The Perfect Blend of Old and New
PMX by Doug Swisher

Spring has been limping in on the coast and hasn't really shown it's head in the Kootenays.  Some of the lakes are open but the mountains are still holding a fair bit of snow.  The snow pack itself is a little bit less than where it was last year and we're all hoping for a moderate release.  We're having our boats worked on down in Idaho Falls so some angling there and back is in order and we're  seriously looking forward to throwing some line in Montana were spring seems to be a little further ahead.  Will keep you posted on how that goes; in the meantime I'm wrapping bugs booking some trips and watching Bubba Watson fend off some kid who was bold enough to wear a green shirt on day 4 at Augusta!!!