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First published July 25th 2004 - More than 10 years ago
Tour de France tying
Why tying many identical flies can be a good thing - and can be better than tying many different flies
By Martin Joergensen
With respect to flies, I can only agree with him. Many are better than one. Tying a bunch of identical flies will lead to many improvements in your tying and fill up your boxes with a uniform selection of patterns.
This article will give some hints to how you can improve your tying by tying many flies of the same pattern and how to easily set up routines for that.
A perfect occasion
Last year I spent three weeks of my summer - as I do every summer - seated in front of the television every afternoon watching the live broadcasts from the Tour de France bike race. This is a recurring event every summer - both in my home and in France - but this summer I used the time twofold: I watched bike race and I tied flies.
I was stocking up on flies for a trip to Iceland and needed to tie flies for two people because my companion did not have time to tie his own.
This was a perfect occasion to hone my skills on particular patterns and set up some small routines for increasing my efficiency and get as many flies from the vice as possible.
How many is many?
In order to tie my conception of many flies I apply a certain method - a small series of rituals.
But if your aim is to tie many uniform flies of the same pattern, whimsical is the last thing you want to be.
But moving away from the desk has implications. You have nothing nearby! No tools and no materials.
So you need to bring that.
When I set up for my Tour de France tying session I do the following:
Choosing a pattern to tie is quite important. And that is one pattern. And a particular one.
This might sound like a paradox, but if you tie like me, you often sit at the desk with some general direction but no particular pattern in mind. I tie "salt water flies", "salmon flies", "hair wing flies" or another generic type of flies more than I tie "Tan Gotchas", "Blue Charms" or "Beis Flies". That means that I often improvise a pattern and let one fly lead to the next, improving and experimenting on the way.
Not so when I am Tour de France tying!
I select a particular pattern and stick to that. It might be a well known classical pattern and it might be one of my own. Sometimes I know the materials list and sometimes I get out a book and check it out. For Iceland I had some pictures sent from my local contact, and I printed them and brought them to the table. I tend to select simple patterns for these sessions. It keeps my pace up, and the number of materials down. And - honestly - when it comes to fishing, simple is all you need.
Then I get the tools. Scissors and a dubbing needle are always brought. Sometimes a dubbing spinner, a Velcro brush, a dubbing rake, cutters, hair stacker and what have you. But only what I need for the particular pattern. I do not get a set of tools or a selection of scissors or needles. Just what I know I will use.
I also select one colour of tying thread and bring one bobbin holder with that colour - in spite of the fact that I have a dozen bobbin holders hanging, ready with any colour I might fancy.
This whole process usually limits me to a few bags of material plus a couple of spools.
Waste and supplies
So I make sure that I have a place to dump the waste in ample time before producing it.
Depending on the pattern I take out a number of hooks. Six for more complex patterns, ten for the simpler ones and 12 maybe 16 for the really simple ones. My aim is to tie on all hooks before I stop.
In most cases I start tying the first fly right away, but sometimes I have to prepare some of the materials.
Tying now becomes a second nature. I try not to think too much, and can usually easily concentrate on bikers and vice at the same time. I'm no speed tyer, but still I can get into a good rythm.
I minimize the turns of materials and thread. I tie in more than one material at a time, covering the butts of both body, ribbing and tail material in one go in stead of three. I minimize the cutting by breaking with a yank - or just don't trim before I am done. I put scraps in the same spot and useful leftovers in an other. In other words: I rationalize.
I do this in order to get uniform and nice looking flies, gain speed and in order to save materials.
I become a miser with materials and don't waste a bit. When cutting tail material I measure exactly what I need and no more. I use hackles to the limit. Dry fly hackles often span three or four flies. I don't cut bits off yarn or spooled material, but leave it on the spool and trim when I have used what I need.
As soon as I have tied a few flies, I also have the amount of materials in my fingers, and need not trim or remove dubbing, hair or other materials, but can select the proper amount right away.
I leave the varnishing until all flies are done and then give them all a couple of layers to finish the job. All I need to do now is lean back and wait for them to dry while I watch the reruns of the sprint in todays stage.