|The author found a solution for his tired, aging eyes: the Carson MagniFly, seen above. (Photo credit: Jenn Watt)
The frustrating part about fly fishing and fly tying is that as you gain more experience and skill in both, you lose a little in physical abilities. You can't wade as much as you used to; your casting stroke might not be as crisp as it once was, but mostly it's about eyesight.
I learned this the hard way in January when I noticed tying smaller flies was getting difficult — and, as much as I hate to admit it, this had everything to do with my tired 50-year-old eyes.
Thankfully, I had the good sense to do something about it. A visit to the optometrist revealed I needed reading glasses but that was only half the fix.
My solution for long sessions at the bench was the Carson MagniFly, which has a flexible LED lighted hands-free magnifier. This, along with a better tying back drop (I chose off-white card paper) that provides more contrast and bounces soft light, made all the difference. Better still, if possible, tie by a window in natural light.
Because of these simple fixes, I no longer have tired eyes at the end of a tying session.
The Magnifly unit lights up whatever fly I'm tying with beams from three very bright LED lights and allows a 2X magnified view. That's enough to let you see every little thread wrap and feather fibre.
The flexible arm permits you to position the lens perfectly so that you can tie flies without the associated eyestrain. The base unit clamps onto any table top-type surface or can even be attached to most vises. There's also a 3.5X bifocal spot lens that is useful for getting an even closer look. I find myself using this stronger lens when applying head cement and giving my flies a final inspection. This typically reveals minor flaws such as errant fibres that can easily be correctly with the judicious use of fine tweezers.
The unit can be plugged in with its DC adapter but it can also run independently using 3 AAA batteries, which comes in handy for those times when an outlet isn't within reach. It's lightweight and fairly durable.
At the time of this writing, I've used this tool for a month of fairly constant tying, and I can truly say that I don't think I'll ever allow myself to be without one again. The flies I am tying are the best I have ever done and, contrary to what I thought, tying behind a magnifying glass was very easy to adapt to.
So, if you find yourself straining to see the flies you are tying, do yourself a favor, get your eyes checked and then get one of these units or something similar.
A session of fly tying goes by quickly, but it shouldn't be a blur.
|Carson MagniFly Lighted Magnifier|