Lot’s of my pals and acquaintances imagine that I spend the long, weary winter days and nights tying swarms of flies. I’m not slow in setting them right.
I almost never tie flies in the wintertime. Okay, I rattle a few together for magazine articles, and do the odd, occasional demonstration, but I never tie out of inspiration or desire. I’m at a distance too far removed from fish or fishing to consider that much of value come of it.
The days before an important match or a trip to far-flung places I tie like a demented fool, and inspiration sleets through my mind like meteors through space. During the warm days of summer, ideas pop up like mushrooms and I can happily spend hours at the vice, putting form to fantasy.
You see, I’m not really a fly-producing assembly line; if I tie three of any pattern then I move on to something else. Three is my number – one on the cast, one in the box, and one for my mate (if it’s working). If I lose one – and I rarely do – then I can soon rattle up another three. I am really a pattern devisor. I believe that there is nothing which can’t be improved on. Nine times out of ten such foolishness is unproductive, but then there is that one time ………..
Most people get there inspiration from magazines, other people’s fly boxes or hurried chats in the car park. Mine seem to come out of nowhere. I can be lying in bed of an evening and, as sleep slips up on me, a material or colour combination can suddenly materialise in my head, and there’s nothing for it but to postpone sleep and stagger through to the vice. That’s how the Doobry came about. I was trying to work out why I wasn’t doing so well on a loch in Orkney when others were caning fish on Zulus and Dunkelds. Just as I was about to ‘drop off’ an image formed in my mind of a red tailed, gold bodied, black palmered fly with a mixed hackle of orange and black. I could see it, fully formed in my mind’s eye, and that was, as they say, that!
Every man to his own, so if your idea of a perfect holiday is to sit hunched over a vice tying hundreds of Diawl Bachs, get in there. Oh, and send me a dozen, ‘cause I can’t be bothered.
Wishing you all a very happy, fishy New Year.