People frequently ask, “How fast can you tye that fly?” Really, the question should be, “How much do you enjoy tying that fly?” Or even, “How slowly can you tye that fly?”
What I am getting at here is looking at fly tying as a journey not a destination. Just as many people look at fly fishing as a total experience with the catching of fish as merely one aspect of the angling package, I say let's look at fly tying as an activity to be savored. I am thinking not of speed-tying to get it over with to head to the stream, but as super-slow tying that is an experience all by itself, to be enjoyed.
I do commercial tying orders and there are times when speed is, of course, of the essence. Even when I am marching though a pressure order, I find a great deal of pleasure in thinking about who I am making the flies for, the travels the flies will take and where and when the flies will be fished. I think about the colorings on the fur and feathers and the history of the fly. Ah, now there is the pleasure.
Fly tying transcends the mechanics involved in making the fly. It's about recreating and celebrating nature and history, almost like a meditation. It takes you away to a new dimension and a different world. Tying connects you with the natural cycle of life and the evolution of tying and angling.
Each fly is a creation for some one who will make an experience out of it. Do they catch fish or not? Does it really matter? The journey of fly tying and fly fishing begins with a single hope. I hope that people catch fish with my flies, after all most people fish with catching fish as the goal. Don't get me wrong, I am a pragmatist too. If my flies did not help catch fish then I would be out of business, but does that hope end there? No, of course not. It begins there with the plans, imagining the place and the time. It's about the people you meet or travel with, the animals you encounter, the light in the trees, the sun on your back, the clouds in the sky, the water flowing over the rocks, the sounds and the splashing, glistening fish taking your fly and tugging your line.
I leave you now to ponder the total experience from vise to net.