September 26, 2002

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

So much of what we do outdoors and in our sporting pursuits is all about having fun. As I've gotten older, found my career and started a family these pursuits still are quite fun (that is when I can make time for them) but possibly more importantly they are an avenue for stress relief. When you are casting that lure after another bass there is little thought about what went wrong at work. After a couple hours with a pair of screaming kids, nothing is more welcome than the solitude and peace of setting in your bow stand.

In the last few weeks I've discovered another great escape and I can do this one right at the kitchen table. Every year I participate in a salmon fishing excursion to Michigan. We use fly rods and catch these massive 20 to 30 lb. fish on hand tied lures. These flies take many shapes. The most common/successful for us are those with the catchiest names like the wooly buggers and the egg sucking leach.

The river is filled with rocks, trees and other cover which needless to say are pretty hard on fishing lines and lures. So in a couple days of fishing a guy can go through two, three or four dozen flies. At $20 bucks a dozen that gets expensive.

So in my infinite wisdom, I decided to try my hand at tying flies. There's plenty of logic involved you see as I spent $50 bucks on the kit and tools and since then have spent twice that on hooks and materials to tie my flies. So you see I spent three times what I expected to save and still had to put all the time into making my own lures.

Needless to say I was a little down on my great idea. That was before I tied my first fly. It wasn't work at all. Well it was a little work, as I'm not the most coordinated person when it comes to working with small hooks, tiny pieces of feather and material topped off by miniature knots. It surprises me but those around me seem to believe that I might not be the most patient person in the world. So that makes this recent find even more of a shock, as the small scale hobby does not try my patience and actually makes it easier for me to deal with the stresses of life when completed.

I'm not a true fly-tying artist yet, meaning I can not just whip up a perfect fish catcher from scratch. Instead I'm forced to model my work after proven flies using patterns and instructions from books or found on the Internet. But I guess if you look at the final results, at least from the first bunch, they do likely resemble personal creations rather than those master pieces that I am trying to mimic. Still there is some rhythm to my work as I am attempting to fit the mold. I'm sure as this hobby continues eventually I will be brave enough to try some personal pattern. Who knows, it my be the newest craze on the salmon circuit. I could name it Feeney's Fuzzyheaded Firefly or something fun like that.

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