A few days ago, my brother and I decided to organize our fly tying materials. After a long winter at the vise, vodka and caviar-fueled evenings tying intruders and muskie flies, we needed to step back and regroup.
But where to start? I’d been watching this Gordian Knot grow in the bottom of my fly tying materials crate for months: kinky Antron fiber, unspooled fine copper wire, random hooks and chewed up ostrich plume, inextricably intertwined.
Our materials were in this condition because of laziness. Instead of putting materials away in the right place after a tying session, I’d dump them into the box for sorting later, knowing full well that the diamond braid would try to mate with the loose strands of trilobal chenille.
The only way to handle this kind of mess is with brute force. A big pair of scissors and an assortment of ziplock bags. I don’t need to go into detail here, but the basic idea is to sort materials into the smallest useful categories, and then bag them up so they don’t wad up into expensive, marabou covered knots.
It took hours to undo the mess, and we threw a lot away, but it was cleansing. And there in the bottom of the crate was my plastic box of misfit patterns, flies so bizarre that I hadn’t been able to just throw them away.
One fly looked like a dead starling, trying to carry two grizzly hackles back to its nest. Another, the candy cane shrimp, was hot pink and white and shaped like nothing in the natural world, tied on what must have been an expensive salmon hook. Then there were the “Crazy Bitch” series of nymphs, patterned after my favorite Deschutes fly, the Bitch Creek nymph, but tied in purple and pink instead of black and orange.
I actually put these back on the bottom of the box for some reason. Maybe as a reminder to lay off the sauce when I’m at the vise.