March is around the corner and with a tuft of grass showing here and there, the spring fever for trout fishing and turkey hunting starts my blood pumping. I think about the early morning hours listening for that first gobble and then an afternoon of dropping a fly on a quiet section of warmer water for those early season hatches. Oh, how I can’t wait for those first clumsy casts of the year, slowly becoming one with the fly rod again!
After I awoke from my daydream, I went to my junk room and sat at the make-shift tying bench; an old filing cabinet, and started tying typical patterns. Adams, Red Quills, Hendrickson’s, some wets and some nymphs for dredging, were being tied and hanging from the finger holes of scissors and forceps’ on my bench to dry. I have a flat round piece of mahogany wood with drilled holes in it where I stick the point of my tools into. The vertical scissors and forceps make a perfect place to hang drying flies.
Some of the flies are tied following the famous recipes of men such as Jennings, Marinaro, and Humphreys and of course Fran Betters, our local Ausable River fly-fishing hero! Some flies are of my own design, tied with experimentation and frugality in mind. Some look like they just came out of a cheap foreign monster movie, similar to “Flyzilla,” but I use what I have; deer hair, grouse and duck feathers, and what I pick up at stores when I find something on sale. There is a great feeling of catching a trout on a fly you tied, whether it’s from a recipe book or from the back recesses of your own mind.
Once I start tying, it’s addictive. I keep going until I run out of hanger room. Tying flies is fairly easy, but patience and practice are a must, along with a pair of young eyes, or a good magnifying glass. The older I get the bigger and brighter my flies need to be. Size 20 hooks just don’t make it any more. Casting out something I can’t see is very frustrating, let alone trying to tie it to the leader when the sun is going down. But that’s why streamers, white winged dries and nymph fishing works for old eyes. It still allows you to have fun, and that’s what it’s all about. Anyway, it’s time I get back to my bench to tie one on!
Rich Redmond is a retired District Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and an avid outdoorsman. His column will appear regularly. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.