Heresy Maybe?

Wets, the subtle art form where masters are few and far between.
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Heresy Maybe?

Post by joaniebo » Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:32 pm

Recently, I've decided that I'd be modifying some of the old Norrth Country Spider / Soft Hackle dressings. So I guess my tyings would be best called "variations" and not by their original names. As examples, in several of Sylvester Nemes' books, he shows a Partridge and Orange / Yellow with a dubbed or possibly a peacock herl thorax. On others, possibly a wire rib was added to the original dressing.

Although the Old Masters and many new fly dressers / fly fishers are much more adept at the craft than I am, I'm starting to lie more and more flies using a dubbed or herl thorax, wire ribs and even, sometimes, a herl head, even though the original dressings did not have them. Have even added a wing or two and tails on some dressings like the Woodcock & Orange.

On some (actually quite a few) more modern soft hackle dressings, I've come to prefer added tail materials, although I'm leaning towards tails with natural materials, not Krystal Flash, etc. Same with winging materials.

I honestly don't know if my "variations" catch more fish than the original dressings or maybe it's just because I've tired of the simple (and effective) thread and hackle dressings of old (and me being old, too!). Just a few thoughts from an old guy. Cheers. Bob

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Re: Heresy Maybe?

Post by tie2fish » Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:51 pm

You are not alone, Bob. One can only tie so many dozen of the traditional patterns before it becomes necessary to start varying the process if you wish to tie frequently. Most of the variations you mention are not uncommon among folks who primarily tie soft hackled flies these days, and some of them were actually part and parcel of the old North Country traditions. Herl heads are a good example of the latter; see the "Winter Brown" pattern.

I encourage you to continue with your "experiments" and to share them with us on the forum.

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Re: Heresy Maybe?

Post by SgtMajUSMC » Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:39 am

Great thoughts! I suspect the question is whether you desire to be a slave to a pattern book...which, as we all know, the fish don't read!
Tradition is fine, experimenting with new patters is, too.
Variety, and changing things up keeps things interesting. A breath of fresh air to what can become tedious (if we let it) keeps things interesting.
Tying flies is such an enjoyable way to spend some time. If we are able to fool a fish with what we've created, we should smile...and laugh. Anybody that's ever fished with me knows that I laugh a lot...usually at myself!

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Re: Heresy Maybe?

Post by redietz » Sat Nov 04, 2017 8:42 am

I tend to belong more to the "if ain't broke, don't fix it" school of thought on this. Yes, I occasionally tinker with older patterns, but I haven't found that adding bling to a fly makes it any more (or less) effective, and eventually revert to the originals. Those thread and hackle patterns are just too convenient when I've lost a half dozen flies and need to replace them by the next day. (One of the reasons that I fish simple patterns in the first place is that I'm more willing to take chances with them, casting into brush pile and under trees across the stream.)

As Thoreau said "Simplify, simplify, simplify".

Not heresy, but unnecessary to my way of thinking.

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Re: Heresy Maybe?

Post by St.Froid » Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:05 pm

Heresy is good if used wisely.

I went through the book, by the book. Then I went through my experimental 'bling' period. Then it was like, Thoreau and Stewart had a love child and I started throwing flies that were too ...Zenish; a koan on a bare hook. Then one night many years ago, after a night of good scotch and Halford bashing, I fell under the influence of Nemes, and there I reside to this day.

I now prefer the tried and true; the old Dudes have so much to teach me still. But sometimes I just have to tweak their patterns, ...just a little.

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Re: Heresy Maybe?

Post by ewpeper » Sat Nov 04, 2017 2:34 pm

I don't think it's any more heretical than my approach. When people ask me what patterns I tie, I say, "I don't tie any 'patterns' as such,. I tie trout food." All this means is I tie representations of what I see on or in the water -- what that stuff looks like to me. Often this involves not only visual elements, but also behavioral features; to represent how the bug (or "food") drifts or moves on its own during the drift.

My one concession to a pattern is Hans Weilenmann's CDC & Elk because of the wonderful motion the CDC imparts to the fly.

A mountain is a fact -- a trout is a moment of beauty known only to men who seek them.
Al McClane in his Introduction to The Practical Fly Fisherman . . . often erroneously attributed to Arnold Gingrich

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Re: Heresy Maybe?

Post by shakey » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:53 am

I tye SH’s with and without a thorax.
No thorax for slow water,thorax to keep the hackle out in fast water.

A rib if I want it to sink,or be more sturdy.

A dry fly hook if I want it in the surface film.

A tail for a mayfly,no tail for a caddis .


I don’t think that’s heresy. These variations have probably been around forever!

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Re: Heresy Maybe?

Post by BrownBear » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:16 am

joaniebo wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:32 pm several of Sylvester Nemes' books, he shows a Partridge and Orange / Yellow with a dubbed or possibly a peacock herl thorax. On others, possibly a wire rib was added to the original dressing.
I spent a fair bit of time poking through Syl's boxes with him on his two trips to fish with us in AK. It's fair to summarize his remarks and the examples in his boxes with two points: He was dedicated to the study of traditional patterns. He enjoyed testing variations in the hunt improvements. Call him a historian AND tinkerer.

Sounds as though you're following a fine tradition with your tinkering.

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Re: Heresy Maybe?

Post by St.Froid » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:01 am

If you looked upon the contents of my fly boxes you'd think 'heresy' and 'affront' had made a love child. I love the traditional patterns but I just can't help myself...

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