Winter is a great time of year. While not the most exciting season from the outdoors perspective it allows a chance to reflect on adventures from the past season on the water and to daydream about bigger/better adventures to come. Nothing like a little cabin fever to make you lock down plane tickets and reserve camp sites. Along with the cabin fever comes the relentless urge to clean reels, upgrade tackle, and to hone the collection killer flies that we'll be flinging in the year to come.
I always seem to have more flies than i know what to do with. A sure sign of the flyfisherman is a tackle bag over-stuffed with flies for any conceivable situation: Hexigena, Hecuba, Damselflies, Dragonflies, Isonychia, Waterstriders! (seriously though i do not have any waterstrider patterns. might need to look into that). Sometimes, though, having all the flies can get in the way of the one fly. When the fish are going ape all around you a large fly selection is not your friend. Having a few proven arms beats a bullpen full of experimental jam-funk journeymen any day. So what to tie, what to tie?
When i set up to tie bunches of a particular pattern it's usually because (1) i have had some phenomenal days with it, the kind that leads to that annoying nostalgic gaze we fishermen are renown for. "Dude it was nuts. Fish chugging everywhere. Three doubles in fifteen minutes. Insanity". Big-day flies seem to get tied on more frequently than even the sexiest-looking new-fandagled MFC wonderbug. If you have confidence in the flies you're fishing, the fish will have confidence in them too. Sometimes; (2) If a fly is going to stay in the workhorse lineup it has to be easy to tie. Body, wing, hackle, period. Its easier to get good at tying simple flies and this tends to make them more durable too. When that one chewed CDC emerger that just has got the mojo going for it finally falls apart its good to know there is an entire cavalry waiting to back it up; Finally (3), i like flies that just a tiny bit different than other patterns mimicing a given hatch. Flies that have subtle differences in silhouette and color will get eaten throughout the entire hatch, not just the initial gluttouny phase when the fish will eat a well-presented wine cork. They also get eaten right after someone with the generic fly has rolled through. Can't complain about that.