What to do with all my crappy flies

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Ron Crawford, Oct 25, 2007.

  1. Here's a question from a new tyer for all you veterans .....

    I have been tying for about two years. I do just fine with saltwater stuff, and I can handle most of the easy freshwater stuff. Lately I have been really trying to build my skills up by tying a lot of flies (mostly steelhead stuff). I really want to push my skill set upward so that I can tie decent quality flies on a regular basis.

    I usually tie a series of 8 of a given type of fly. Since I am trying to work on my skills, I carefully look at the finished product, figure out what needs to work better and then tie it again and try to improve every time. Usually the last two look pretty good but the fist three or four are pretty crappy. I end up with a lot of flies that are only marginal in quality. They are fish-able (I guess).

    What do you do with all those "learning curve" flies? I guess I could fish them, but a) they are going to fill up my fly boxes pretty fast; and b) It's kind of a downer to tie on a fly that you know is crappy.

    I can't be the first guy to have generated a drawer full of crappy flies. What did you guys do when you were still learning and trying to get better?

    Any advice will be much appreciated.
  2. Razor blade and lighter will take off any thread, feathers, wool, fur and most synthetics then you can reuse the hook and try again. The trouble is if you use lead or wire on the fly since that hard to remove though it can be done after you cut and burn the other stuff away.
    If doing more then one fly at a time it best to do this outside unless you like the smell of burnt hair.
    The other thing is do not complete flies that are not turning out right to begin with. If possible back the thread and other material back off the hook and fix what is screwed up instead of completing the fly.
    Course fishing some of those flies that are not perfect is never a bad thing either as long as the material is secured well to the hook since the fish are not as picky as we are.
  3. I've been thinking about just letting them soak in acetone and then pull the lead and hooks out. Got bags and bags of the good and the bad, but only use one particular style now. Also, if the hook points bust off, but it's still in good shape, I clip the shank so no metal is seen, then just dangle them from the rear view mirror with mono so it looks like a multi-colored fuzz ball.
  4. Are they fishable? Ask someone else if they are and if so, donate them to the scouts, or isn't there a Breast Cancer Survivor fishing group? You may be being too picky about them. If they are crap, I've never found it worth the time to disassemble flies except for cones and dumbells, and even then, unless they're tungsten it's not "economically efficient":beathead:
  5. My Grandpa was a commercial tier and his "best friend" as well as mine is a razor blade. I would refrain from the lighter since it could damage the temper of the metal. I have sharp razor blades on my desk, so if I don't like the way the dee wings were mounted, I cut the fly and start again. I always try to correct the issue when it occurs since the last thing you want to be doing is throwing away Argus or Mccaw feathers in the trash!!! Both of these feathers, I have only tied with once and not on my budget, but respected them just the same.
  6. If it's a big fly, with I-Balz, on a 4/0 or 5/0 then it's worth it to me to disassemble them. A razor blade is pretty much all I need. I've actually been able to reuse rabbit strips from flies. These are mostly for flies I've used and have been chewed up, or the spinner blade and swivel has come off or whatever. They're "used."

    For my never-fished flies, I'll give them to my cousin who is just starting out, or they'll be perfectly good flies that I just don't want to fish because I don't like the way their style, or my tastes have changed over the years since I tied them. I'll give those to anyone who comes to visit and fish. I won't let anyone fish a crappy fly of mine, but like I say, I've got alot of flies that I just don't like anymore, and don't want to fish. it saves me from having to tie up a whole mess of flies when someone visits.
  7. with as expensive as hooks are, if its a finished fly that you completely hate, use the razor blade. if it looks decent enough to fish, leave it as is. if you havent finished it yet, correct mistakes as you make them. if you have that many crappy flies, just dont waste the hooks. to me the materials are cheap, but the hooks just cost too much.
  8. I have boxes full of ties I will never swim in a river. Some are retarded looking, others to small (for steelies I lean on the larger side of things). I don't fish a tie I am not confident in.

    I think I'll give them away at some point, like when I need the box space. About 3 years a go I did two boxes of "the standards" (coal car, freight train, skunks, hiltons, polar shrimp, skykomish sunrise, etc.) in sizes I don't use much (6-8). Maybe a good SRC box? Someday I'll give them away or include them as a swapmiester bonus. Or I'll just shelve them and get more boxes :)

    When I was more strapped for cash I bladed ties I didin't like to get the hooks back.

    I'm sure my commentary is completely useless. But there ya have it...:p
  9. First of all, glad to hear that you are tying 6 or more flies of the same pattern and size before moving on to a different fly. That is the best way I know for someone to increase his tying skills and you will do so far quicker doing this than any other way.

    Second, like some others have mentioned, I always have told students to do as I do, unwrap that which doesn't look right as soon as it is tied in. It is far easier to unwind and take a part of the fly off when it doesn't look right as soon as it has been tied in than it is to wait until the fly is finished (at which point you pretty much have to take the whole fly apart). An added benefit to unwrapping, taking the offending piece off, and retying with a new piece of whatever is that you will become more attuned to how everything works together to produce a good fly. Granted, it will take a bit more time to take the offending bits off as soon as they have been tied in, but the end result is well worth it. Plus, you will more quickly learn how to do that step properly because trust me, you are not going to like taking the time to fix it by retying that step as soon as it has been made.

    Third, either fish with the poor ones, give them to a young fellow (he will greatly appreciate getting flies for free), or cut them off the hook. I'd give them to a young fellow, but it is really up to you.
  10. I had boxes of crappy flies, I mean really crappy I threw them all out while cleaning my dest 5 years later. Nowadays I don't tie a fly I wouldn't fish. I assume you are talking about dry flies, my suggesstion, spend the $$$ get good hackle, it makes a huge difference
  11. I was going to give a smart ass comment, like go fishing for crappies.
    I'm all for giving the flies to a good cause, young grasshoppers, scouts (boy and girl) auction off for a local club fund raiser, etc or just send them to me and I'll take care of them for you.
    I will return pictures of smiling faces, with fish.
  12. Fish the hell out of those stump bugs.
  13. if you really dont want them, i wouldnt mind a few extra flies as i cant afford hooks.
  14. I have the same situation going on at home, tupperware containers full of flies I will never fish. I have been doing cutting sessions with my swiss army knife but it takes a long time and my fingers get sore, especially when the hook is size 16 or less. Now I have a jar full of random hooks I never tie.

    I think what I'm going to do is put them all in a box of "crappy flies" and one day when I am feeling really confident in my fishing ability, go out and try nothing but the crappy flies. Try to branch out a little. I just surprised myself by catching a chum on a red babine special, that I don't even fish for steelhead, so you never know. Plus, it's a blast to catch fish in odd ways, with odd flies. Since you already don't like the flies, all you can do is build your confidence in new patterns, right?

    Best fishing,

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