March 22, 2012


                           Doing a thing well is often a waste of time.
                                               Robert Byrne

     I wonder how many hooks I will go through in my lifetime. I wonder how many I've used so far. I wonder how many flies I've lost; to fish, to trees, bushes, submerged structure, to disgust. I'm sure that I'd find the total quite sobering, although probably nowhere near exemplary. 
     On many levels, it can be said that tying flies is a waste of time. Why bother with such a seemingly futile endeavor. Surely it should have been spent more wisely. And to spend it constructing such fragile, disposable artifacts? And time is not the only consideration. There is also the sizable amount of money that will be invested in the ongoing procurement of the countless types of materials that one accumulates as the years fly by. 
       Why not just go buy them already tied and be done with it? There are billions of them out there sitting in boxes just waiting to be bought and disposed of much in the same fashion as those I spend so many dollars and hours to create. To give up so much precious time (and money, if such a thing as money can be called precious) in the creation of something that will eventually be destroyed or lost seems ludicrous, does it not? 
      There is another facet to this folly. It's the one that I find most interesting, too. 
      Ever since I've tied flies, even from the very beginning, it has been a labor of love, a never-ending infatuation. The ability to create and tie my own flies, flies that will catch fish has driven me from almost the very beginning right up to the point where I am today, and will always be the nexus of my fishing experience. I have, ever since I first sat back and perused my very first creation, gained an immeasurable amount of satisfaction from this activity. Each and every fly I finish is alone reason enough to sit back for a moment to simply enjoy the visual impact it has on me. That never gets old. I can fill my boxes with my flies, many of them totally unique creations of my own design, others more classically-oriented patterns I have come to trust, and know that whatever fishing situation I encounter there's probably an answer, or alternative in my box that will work. To me, for me, that is exactly what this fly fishing thing is all about. I'll go further. It wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable using flies that I didn't tie myself. I can say this with conviction, because I've been there.       

    That having been said, here's the interesting part.
    There I am, stepping down through a run thigh deep in the Spokane River, swinging my favorite soft hackle pattern when I feel a sudden jolt and for a split second feel the weight of a desperate fish before my line goes slack. I quickly strip line, concerned, and see that whatever hit my fly is probably wearing it because my tippet is now empty. Not a time for sentimentality, or even a second thought as I reach into my vest pocket for the box and a duplicate. The next one is in the water and on it's way hopefully into a fish's mouth and a happier ending in seconds. After several more casts I realize that the very sharp tug I had a little later is why I haven't had a pull for awhile because I've been casting with no fly. Back into the box again. And so it goes.
There is the small cottonwood behind me that will, when I'm in a hurry, reach out and grab my fly. There are sharp-edged  boulders here and there just beneath the surface that offer hidden danger. And there are the fish themselves, notorious for tearing up hundreds of those all of which once sat so proudly, so eloquently in my vise. So what do I do with those? Why, I donate them to the river. A gift, gladly given, from me to my river for providing me with the chance to come here and experience the thrill of luring fish with my flies again and again. And at the end of each day, as I make the short drive home, my thoughts revolve around flies and fish knowing that soon I can sit down again at the vise to create and enjoy.
     The truth, as I sit here in the midst of yet another mid-March snowstorm that promises to further delay my eventual return to my river, is this. I without question owe more to the fishing with and tying of flies than anybody I know. I'm pretty sure that if it were not for these passions I have developed I would be either dead, or, at the very least, in a very bad way. 
        One word. Alcohol. 
   So I stand happily on the considerable time and money spent; the wisest investment I will ever make. An investment that will continue to pay countless, priceless dividends right up until the end, which I don't see happening any time soon in my immediate future, because tying and fishing with flies is also my fountain of youth. 
     I am so truly, so wonderfully blessed.

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