Bob Petti, GFF partner USA

Published Jan 1st 2001

A friend of mine once told me of an aquaintence whose financial situation forced him to decide between fly fishing and fly tying.


A fine smallmouth from Quetico Provincial Park in western Ontario.

He sold all his tackle and gave up fishing so he could keep tying flies. I think I can relate to that and would likely make the same choice if faced with a similar circumstance. There's no doubt that my love of fly tying is rooted in my childhood. When I was a kid, if I wasn't making something out of cardboard and glue, I was drawing something with pencils and paper. At one point, my dream was to become an architect. I had the belief that architecture was the perfect combination art and craft. While I never did become an architect - my guidance counsellor "guided" me to engineering instead - I did find that blend of art and craft in fly tying.

A view of the Beaverkill on a steamy August morning.

To some, fly tying is simply a means to an end - a way to tie up some bait to catch fish. To others, fly tying is fine art - a medium for self expression. While I count among my friends people at both extremes of this spectrum, I try to stay in the gray area somewhere between the two. All my flies are tied to be fished, but that doesn't stop me from adding some spit and polish here and there to make them pleasing to my eye.

I'm pretty fortunate to live where I do. About forty five minutes to the East of me is the West Branch of the Delaware, one of the finest trout rivers in the Northeast. The Beaverkill and other famous Catskill rivers are just a short drive further along the quickway. Two hours due north of me is the Salmon River with its world reknown runs of pacific salmon and steelhead. A hour to the northwest would bring me to the Finger Lakes region, home to Cornell University and some deep water lakes that harbor landlocked salmon, trout, and all sorts of warmwater species. To the south and southeast, I'd be in Pennsylvania fishing the mountain country, where many still fish wet flies three at a time. The famous Susquehanna River runs right through my town and hosts some fine smallmouth fishing. Yeah - I'm blessed. There's more fishing within day-trip range of my front door than I can take advantage of in a lifetime.

My two best fishing buddies, Bruce and Gary, with a pair of Salmon River smallmouth bass.

Of course, with such diverse fishing so close to home, well, let's just say I've had to support such activities with a similar diversity in tackle and fly tying materials. I guess I'm lucky I don't live close enough to saltwater fishing - then I'd really be in tackle debt. To help ease the financial strain, I've learned to build my own fly rods. My only regret is that fly rod blanks aren't as cheap as a box of hooks. I build and sell a few rods a year, just to keep a healthy level of tackle turnover in the house. After all, we don't want things to stagnate.

I'm also very fortunate to have a wonderful family life. My wife is unusually tolerant of my obsession with "formerly living" animal and bird pieces, although said parts are quaranteed to the garage. That's ok - we have cats, too - so keeping my materials isolated allows some peace of mind. My daughter finds her Daddy's feathers fascinating, but she doesn't yet understand what fishing is all about. Someday, she will. Daughter #2 is due in May.

It was truly an honor to be invited to join the GFF team. Here's to a long and happy partnership.

Some of my articles on GFF

Bob's blog entries:
| 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 |

User comments
From: Don Polick · dphb321·at·  Link
Submitted November 21st 2010

I enjoy your articles at Global Fly Fisher and wanted to ask your advice about tying vises. I tie flies for Lake Erie Steelhead; mainly eggs, buggers, and streamers. I've been using a Regal knock off for several years now, and would like to upgrade to a better vise. I would like to ask what you would recommend for a vise. Also, how important is a rotary function? I guess a rotary may help me tie bodies on the buggers and streamers, but probably not on the eggs or nymphs. Any advice is appreciated.
Thank you,
Don Polick

From: Petr Appelt · petr.appelt·at·  Link
Submitted January 8th 2008

Hi Bob,
I've just come across this article and I also tie this type of flies. I'm from the Czech republic and I use little different way how to tie this one. My English is not so good to explain this process I can send you photo by email. best regards. Petr

From: Greg Davidge · gmdavidge·at·  Link
Submitted August 11th 2006

I would like to buy a 10' 6wt 3 piece East Branch fly rod. Can anyone help me find one?

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