Monthly Archives: March 2016

Time to Tie One On

I’m looking forward to joining Bob Clouser, Tom Rosenbauer and a big group of awesome fly-tiers Saturday at at Tie One On Fly Tying Rendezvous at the Genesee Grande Hotel in Syracuse, New York.

We’re coming to the end of the fly-fishing show season, but I imagine people are psyched for Tie One On. For one thing, it’s a benefit that supports a number of great causes, including Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Casting for Recovery, Hope on the Rise, the Carpenter’s Brook Fish Hatchery, and the conservation work done by the Iroquois Chapter of Trout Unlimited, host of the event.

It’s also all the things we love about a fly-tying expo: a chance to gather with like-minded sportsmen and women, a trout fishing gabfest in a region with a ton of great fishing, and best of all the chance to watch and talk with expert fly-tiers.

Clouser obviously needs no introduction. No one else I can think of has invented a fly so important that most of the fly-fishing world calls it by just one word. Rosenbauer of course is one of the top fly-fishing authors of his time, in addition to being a top executive at Orvis.

This is Tie One On’s fifth year, and it’s growing. About 30 people attended the first one in 2012; last year, there were more than 300.

I’ll be there, trying not to embarrass myself at the vise and signing (and selling) my book, Simple Flies: 52 Easy-to-Tie Patterns That Catch Fish.

Admission is only $10 and $ for active TU members, and I hear the Genesee Grande is a pretty swanky place. Sounds like a good time.

Tie One On

We love this kind of stuff.

Cohen Tie One On

Stacked deer hair maestro Pat Cohen will be on hand…

Brandt Tie One On

…and so will Catskill dry-fly master Dave Brandt. All photos courtesy of Jim Froio of the Iroquois chapter.

The Pheasant Tail’s Cousin

No fly has ever reminded me more of a natural bug than the Pheasant Tail nymph. Frank Sawyer achieved fly-fishing immortality when he invented it. It’s a very clever insect imitation that catches lots of trout. It’s also a very simple fly, especially the way Sawyer tied it: nothing but pheasant tail feather fibers, copper wire and a hook.

I included the Sawyer Pheasant Tail in my book, Simple Flies: 52 Easy-to-Tie Patterns That Catch Fish. A few weeks ago, I was honored to learn that a well-known figure in the fly-fishing world, Harry Murray of Edinburg, Virginia, had read the book and liked it. It turns out my cousin by marriage lives close to Murray’s Fly Shop and showed Harry the book.

Not long after that, Harry sent me one of the coolest fly-fishing things I’ve ever had: a set of Grey Goose nymphs – a close relative of the Pheasant Tail – tied by Sawyer’s widow, whose name I understand was Margaret. They’re beautifully slim, buggy in a very understated way. They’re dainty 16s, great Blue Winged Olive or Sulfur nymphs. In fact, they resemble many little insects trout snack on all day long. Like the Pheasant Tail, they’re minimalist: copper wire underbody & rib, goose wing feather fibers for the tail and body.

Grey GooseI find it interesting that the bellies of the thoraxes on the Sawyer nymphs aren’t covered with goose; they’re just naked copper wire. I think trout really like copper wire. The Sawyers’ neighbor across the road, Oliver Kite, was a celebrity fly-fisher in England in the 1960s and sometimes fished with what he called the Bare Hook Fly, which consisted of nothing more than a ball of copper wire on the front half of a hook.

He caught fish with it. I’m not sure what to make of that. But I’m proud to possess Mrs. Sawyer’s nymphs. The Grey Goose and the Pheasant Tail exemplify what I admire about simple flies. Their design includes everything that’s necessary – a slim, segmented body in insect-like earth tones, with muted flash from the wire – and nothing more.