Wednesday, August 6, 2014:
Yesterday there was quite a contingent of anglers fishing the field water on the Double R Ranch. The best thing about the large crowd for a Monday was that they were Able to spread out on the field water because over the past week the creek level has risen to the extent that we are on the verge of being at the normal level for this stage of the season. The overcast sky and cool temperature brought out the Baetis.
I recently read an interesting article in the latest issue of Fly Fishing & Tying Journal, authored by Dave Hughes. The concept underlying the article was his long standing intention to visit a favorite lake without flies, packing only his vise, tools and thread. His plan was to scrounge up tying materials found on site such as bird feathers, animal fur and the like. Hughes calls the resulting insect imitations “Found Flies.” Of course, the article closes with descriptions of the flies he tied out of goose feathers and the trout he snookered using them. He indicates that this approach to fly angling has become popular in Europe, the continent which brought us bottle water, several world wars and burdensome tax structures. Dave, I have loved and respected your work over the years but these days you might lay off the John Barleycorn a wee bit.
Anyway, this hunter-gatherer approach to fly tying has consumed my idle thoughts over the past week and has affected the way I react to Death in Nature. Now when I see a mouse or vole carcass streamside my thoughts turn to dubbing a BWO nymph. When I see a deer romping through the willows I envision its flank hair fashioned into Comparaduns. I increasingly covet Great Blue Herons for their feathers which I imagine would make great spey flies. I begin to think that by ignoring the lowly Coot as a source of soft hackles we are missing the boat. I kick myself for not gathering bear underfur from “scratching trees” and incorporating it into Stonefly dubbing. I wonder what I gems I could tie if I could just find a carcass of an American Bittern which I see and hear often on the Ranch water. I look upon the Purdys’ sheep in a new light.
While the concept of Found Flies intrigues me, there are several reasons why I am not likely to take up the challenge. First, I’d never bring materials gathered in the wild back to my trailer because I probably have $20,000worth of fly tying materials and fear an invasion of the little bugs that can strip a fine rooster neck, bags of saddle hackles and fur. Second, one needs to recognize the possibility of contracting flu strains from wild birds and other diseases from animals such as Hanta Virus. Third, I am too damn lazy.