For those who know of Bill Harsey, he is a knife maker. He designs and prototypes blades, handles and all, and then sends his designs to a number of different companies for machining and production*. Not only does he make them, but he’s darn good at it. Bill’s design won the “Best American Made Knife” Award at the International Blade Show in 2016. He is one of the most innovative craftsmen in his industry, and his flare for innovation doesn’t stop there. Bill is also known at The Caddis Fly Shop as a magnificent fly tyer, and one of our most loyal customers.
I’ve been fortunate to talk with Bill a number of times in shop, and on his last visit we got to chatting about how he selects his materials for patterns.
“I like to pick my materials by creating a color pallet, not focusing so much on what I’m picking, but just putting together a good mix,” Bill said, standing with me, admiring our great walls of chenille, dubbing, beads, cones, fur and feathers.
“I don’t make too many plans, I just come in, explore and see what I can come up with! I only buy my materials at Caddis. I’ve been getting my stuff [here] since Chris was still in diapers,” Bill said with a hearty grin.
Bill has been tying flies since he was in the 7th grade, and it’s given him ample time to practice. He ties both traditional ties, and experiments with his own recipes. A couple of his favorite ties are pictured below.
Bill’s own creation, the Desert Camo Hopper:
(Tied on a size 8 long shank. TMC2302 is the ticket.)
Hareline Thin Fly Foam (both hoppers)
Whenever Bill comes into the shop, it seems, he has a new tie to share. The following fly has my favorite conception story.
The Oregon Coachman:
Bill’s version of the classic Black Coachman was inspired by a University of Oregon football game–and, as he likes to add, a bit of beer. The University of Oregon was playing a game in the 2016 season and Bill had “had a few”, which meant the talk had moved on from simple game chat. As he watched the players move across the field he couldn’t believe how little school spirit their uniforms held in their design.
“I can tie a fly with more school colors than they’re wearing today!” he exclaimed.
And he did just that. The Oregon Coachman is a tie to put the UofO jerseys that day to shame, and it’s just the pattern that gets Bill’s fellow fly tyers excited about what we can come up with for our next personal patterns.
If you wish to tie a Coachman in the style of your school colors or any other of your favorite teams, you can do so with the appropriate color palate of the following ingredients:
Some boxes of additional Harsey flies:
We are more than proud to help stock such a phenomenal tiers bench, and we are glad to be able to share his work here. If you are a tier who uses materials purchased at The Caddis Fly Angling Shop and you would like to share your ties with us (and our readers!) please email us at email@example.com. We’d love to see and share your work as a Featured Tyer!
For those of you on Instagram, follow the shop @caddisflyshop and please feel free to tag the flies you tie using material purchased at The Caddis Fly Shop with the hashtag #tiedwithcaddisflyshop. We’ll repost your flies to our feed to show off your fly tying style!
Tight lines and tight ties everybody.
*For more information about Bill, visit his Wikipedia page here.