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I'll admit that I'm still a rookie on the fly tying desk with only two years experience. In this time I've found that dressing flies, as well as fishing them, gives a man time to think and sometimes that creates questions. I opened one of my fly boxes yesterday and while introducing the new to spots reserved for them, I pondered at my small collection and wondered just exactly how much of tying is done for the benefit of the human eye as opposed to the eye of the trout. I gazed upon some intricate patterns, fairly difficult, often frustrating and time consuming to tie and they do look nice in the box....but...... does the trout really care? As an example, would a simple and quick to tie dry fly pattern in a few basic colors and sizes catch as many as the perfect "insert current popular parachute fly name here" that took 20 minutes to tie? Just curious as to how many have pondered or experimented with simplification of what goes into the fly box.


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One of the most effective flies I've found, the Zebra Midge, is little more than thread on a hook; 2 minutes, tops and takes trout anywhere. 20 minutes on a fly? Not unless it's a full-dress salmonfly (which would be warp speed for some of those patterns).
One thing to consider as a new tyer; the more you tie, the easier those "complex" patterns become. Spend the time on the vise, start with the easier, simpler ties and those parachutes, which you really DO want to learn, will start filling your boxes, and catch fish. Learn to manage proportion and thread torque/tension and you can tie just about any trout fly well.

Another thing to consider - some flies fish just as well after the 20th fish has tagged and mangled it. doesn't look even close to what it looked like when it was fresh. So go figure. I've seen fly boxes of some fishermen where the flies look so so, well that is compared to what the pattern is said it should look like...but these same guys will catch fish all day long. One thing to really remember, especially with streamer patterns is that once they are wet whatever awesomeness it had in the vise for the picture shoot is gone. Nice bushy flowy marabou flies just turn to slinky looking that point, any imperfection is gone and the fish will grab on as long as you are fishing where the fish are. ;)

Two weeks ago the fish were on a midge hatch on the lake, constantly rising. I threw an ugly foam hopper out there... I got violent almost takes... you know where the fish will come up, create a big wake ready to hit and and then realizes it doesn't even look close to anything else... I then threw a general pattern out there, like a crackle back and wham fish on. I think size matters more than anything else, then comes the rest.. but that's just mho from my experiences.
Scott knows what he's talking about. search out his SBS patterns that he throws up periodically. Amazing.

I still hate tying anything with a parachute. I still have a tendency to tie in such a manner where I tie something that works (through thorough non-scientific testing), I'll still tinker with that pattern to get it down to the fewest steps possible and yet still be as effective. Usually, I have a 3 1/2 year old running around demanding attention, so I'll get parts of flies tied at different times...sometimes, I'll get back to the vise and wonder where I was going with a particular pattern and it'll end up being different than I originally intended. I can only think of one instance where I've made a pattern take more version of the Clark's Stone. I used to use only elk body hair (nonstacked for a little more "buggy" look) but was finding that it was sinking to quickly (still worked great, even sunken) and I wanted it to float better so I just used the body hair for the underwing and added deer hair for the overwing (I still don't stack it, but the length is usually the same). These float much better and for longer than my original tie.
I love simplicity. I am no artist. I just like catching fish.

I fish lakes and salt 99% of the time. I could probably tie nothing but Clousers and Micro Leeches in various sizes and not worry about anything else. Gotta love it.


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All I know is that I have a few bins of flies that will never see fish and were tied more for the tiers satisfaction than anything else. It was a crawfish pattern that sent me on the road to ruin...


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I never go anywhere without parachutes. midges through caddis and stones. Too effective to leave out. Like Scottp said, practice, practice, practice.
You are starting down the road to enjoyment! The pragmatist ties a few flies that catch fish and is done with it. You will find that after all your fly boxes are full, the artist starts to emerge. That damsel looks neater with eyes, the steelhead fly looks cool with spey hackle, the streamer looks better with red gills, that caddis works fine but you can make it more realistic. Pretty soon you are pulling the flys that work out of the boxes and replacing them with things YOU like better. So your find yourself spending more time on the things you are tying.....that's not bad, you are just enjoying yourself! Relax, you deserve it....

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