The Global FlyFisher
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The Ugliest Flies
Commercial flies can be fairly good - sometimes. This bunch is about as bad as they come.
I have just received the ugliest flies I have ever seen in my life. And no, don't worry they weren't from a potential GFF contributor or a well meaning friend, but commercially tied. They just confirmed what I have always said: home tied flies are best.
”My God, you're ugly!”
These famous words are John Cleese's and are uttered with the deepest contempt in a scene in Fawlty Towers where he eyes a nurse when waking up in a hospital after yet another of those hilarious but painfully embarrassing incidents – this one involving some Germans.
The words ran into my mind when I first saw these flies. I received them as a small compensation for a delayed reel I have been trying to acquire. (Ordered and paid months ago, never heard a word, and the reel appears to not even having been ordered yet. But that's a whole other story).
The flies are packed in a small plastic box. Four of them, labeled Laxflugor (salmon flies in Swedish) with each pattern named in the bottom: Blue Charm, Thunder & Lightning, Jack Scott (sic!) and Silver Doctor. Apart from Jack most likely being Jock, the names are of salmon flies alright, and the flies do to some extent resemble salmon flies. But just barely. And if you were to accept the fact that these flies were actually the salmon flies whose names are printed on the cardboard, the manufacturers have switched a couple of them around - just to kick you off balance again.
The precise words
Basil Fawlty: My God, you're ugly, aren't you?
Nurse: I'll... I'll get the doctor.
Basil Fawlty: It's a plastic surgeon you need, not a doctor.
Each fly is a hair wing fly tied on a double hook. Salmon hooks were often referred to as “irons” back when such flies were full dressed, and these hooks are indeed irons. Huge eyes and heavy wire. Now, don't get me wrong. I like heavy hooks, and a fly tied on a heavy double hook can be a beauty, but not in this case. The hooks look clumsy and cheap.
That might of course be because the flies are extremely badly tied and very clumsy in all respects.
I will only just mention a few of their flaws, and let you judge the rest from the pictures.
The thread used is what appears to be sowing thread. Very rough and thick. As most fly tiers know that leads to thick bodied flies with large heads, which is exactly what we have here. And to make it worse the heads aren't varnished, so two of them have already started to unravel, and they are all bound to fall apart before even touching water.
The hair used for the flies is crude and curly, uneven and either broken or maybe even trimmed on one of the flies. The colors may have some resemblance with the colors from the original patterns, but not enough for it to shine through.
The bodies are worse and tags and tails are so oddly tied and positioned, that it's obvious that no one who ever saw a well (or just correctly) tied fly were involved in the process here. Nothing is symmetrical, in line or even correctly placed. One tinsel tag goes in between the two legs of the double hook, just to mention one oddity.
I have seen quite a few commercially tied flies in my times. Only very few are beautiful, a few more are just well tied but most are plain ordinary bordering on the ugly or clumsy. But none I have seen even get close to these. They take the prize.
I checked out these flies a bit closer, and the package is about 8 Euros or some 10 US$. This must be considered pure robbery! I will give each of these flies a lifespan of about 5-10 minutes on a two hand rod before the heads come unravelled - the two that aren't already, that is. After that the flies will probably just disintegrate. I wouldn't even strip off the materials and use the hooks. I can get about 8-12 good double hooks for that price.
These flies have once again confirmed why I tie my own flies: to get a good quality. I do not demand display quality flies, and God knows that most of my own flies are uneven and sometimes a bit out of proportion. I have never tied a full dressed salmon fly and small dry flies is also one of my weak spots. But I at least try to use the right materials, the right patterns and the right tying methods. And I try to finish my flies properly so that they can endure a little fishing.
Most home made flies I see are like that. Many are better and a few are world class. But all are orders of a magnitude better than these four salmon flies, which would go into my cabinet of horrors – if I had one.