September 15, 2009

On tying a fly

" The question, of course, is how you make your soul clap its hands and sing."
Jim Harrison, The Road Home

I still have the very first fly I ever tied, perched like a sentinel above my tying table. A very primitive affectation of a pheasant tail. Not even a very good likeness. It never made it to the end of a fly line, so it never caught any fish. But, it caught me. And as the days flow past, having that fly there marks my passage, finally, into a world I am so comfortable being in.
Somewhere in the detritus on the bottom of Squalicum Lake rests whatever remains of the first fly I tied that actually hooked a trout. The crude olive-brown representation of a dry fly landed somewhat softly, centered itself in the expanding rings, then disappeared into the mouth of a small cutthroat. It was at this point, then, that my life changed forever. The feeling then, as it is now, as it has been every time since, is what I, purely and simply, live for. It is what makes my soul clap its hands and sing.
Learning to tie flies is not at all what it sounds like. In fact, to say it that way, to think of it that way, in my mind, trivializes the whole thing. "I think I'll learn to tie flies", like in oh, say, a few days or weeks you'll have constructed a workable methodry, some flies and are now a 'fly-tier' and can go about the business of catching fish. Which is, to say, not entirely untrue. You can indeed go about the business of hooking a fish with your flies. And indeed that is precisely what most of us do. Without a second thought, look, back, or deep inside, we 'learn to tie flies', and then we go 'fish'. I guess it's got more to do with a shallower outlook on the art, or craft, maybe coupled with some ego? I also know that not everyone is going to so totally immerse themselves in this particular art as deeply as have I. And indeed there those who have devoted much more time, effort, and money to fly-tying than I. I have met some of them. But, what we have in common is a genuine, never-ending fascination with those entities surrounding the catching of trout, or steelhead, or any fish, with a fly. And beyond that, we share a seat at the table of what-ifs. What if I tried this... what if I tie it this way, or that...
And then one day you see, across and a bit downstream, flowing past the rock that's providing a break in the current, a line of bubbles. And within that bubble line appears a nose, leaving a ring. And then it is gone, momentarily, and then there it is again. You mark its position, and decide to cast your newly-designed emerger to a point just above the spot you marked. It is a decent cast, and your emerger settles into that bubble line, riding low in the current as it drifts without drag. You watch, praying for a few more inches of drift, and suddenly, a dark shape appears, and instantly rips the green water into a million shards... and your fly is gone...

No comments:

Post a Comment