With the appearance of snow on the ground this weekend, fly tying season has officially kicked off. I am by no means a fair weather fly fisherman but the opportunities to get out on the water when the conditions are frigidly cold are few and far between. This time of year is great for fly tiers, as the memories are still fresh of what flies were most productive this fishing season.
Before I start tying, I try and organize my desk and supplies in the order that I am going to be tying. There is no sense flipping back and forth between nymphs, streamers and dries if you are going to be tying multiples of each. If you don't have the opportunity to tie too much in the summer months then it is a good idea to start with bigger flies like streamers. I will start with simpler streamers like buggers then move to bucktails and featherwings. After streamers I like to tie nymphs. They again can be a bit bigger and easier to tie then tiny delicate dries and the extra practice will have you back in tying shape in no time.
Before I ever tie my first fly I like to take a quick look at the stock of materials that I have on hand. I want to make sure that I have the proper hooks, flash and threads for each pattern I am planning. If you have a critical eye for the flies that you tie then not only checking on the quantities of materials on hand but also the quality makes a difference. These quality checks come into play most with hackles.
If you tie dries from necks rather than hackle packs; you use the long even hackles first leaving the larger uneven feathers. It is good from time to time to gauge the feathers and at some point repurpose the neck for streamer/bugger hackles only. Cements, glues and paints are another category of materials that need to be assessed as to their quality. If jars or containers do not get closed tightly they can dry out or stiffen to a point that there usability is significantly reduced.
Lastly if you are a hunter that collects your own materials then keeping an eye on your harvested furs and feathers is very important. If you are finding any insects in these materials don't wait to get rid of them.
Tying season is finally here so dust off the vice and start creating. Five months seems like a long time but depending on how big your fly box is Spring might be coming faster than you anticipate.