The great thing about fly tying is that it encourages creativity, skill and thought. All you need to do is look at countless variations of well-known flies like the wooly bugger or a host of wet fly patterns to see this much.
|The author designed this fly, called the Camp Lake, to catch largemouth bass that inhabit a lake at a hunt camp he visits.
There are hundreds fly recipes out there that every tyer should try to tie at least once. Eventually, however, you'll want to try designing your own pattern.
Designing your own pattern can be a whimsical thing where you use up excess material or it can be a thoughtful process that will take a lot of consideration and experimentation. Either way, however, it's a whole lot of fun.
We all do this different ways.
My experience is that the experimental patterns I tie are typically based on longstanding designs with important variations that my experience tells me might work in the waters I fish.
The photo that accompanies this column is a pattern I've designed called the Camp Lake.
Although it looks like a steelhead fly and would work as one, I designed it to catch the largemouth bass that inhabit a lake at a hunt camp I visit. Those big bass, in that tea-colored water, have shown us that they are partial to gold, orange and black. So I tied this hair-wing fly that has incorporated all these colors on a very strong hook, which is required to land these guys. I'm happy to say that the fly works.
But I'll also be honest and tell you that it's still a work in progress. This bass season, I'll make more modifications to make it easier to tie and more attractive to the fish. That's part of the design process too — the fun part actually.
When creating your own pattern it is important to fish it several times before making changes. Aside from the response you get from fish, you should be considering how it works in or on the water, its silhouette, how easy it is to cast and whether it is too sparse, heavy, flashy or whatever else for the job at hand or the situation you intend it to be used in. Remove any complex processes or delicate material too, if you can.
Refine all these things and you'll soon have a fly that works well that you can truly call your own. Who knows? Maybe somewhere in your imagination is the next wooly bugger. Hey, all great patterns start somewhere.