The cutthroat rose savagely and took the fly with confidence, despite the poor imitation of an Adams. As I started to tire that trout, I was as proud as a new father because that poorly constructed Adams was one that I had tied the night before with some friends who patiently started me into fly tying.
I decided at an early age that if I was going to get serious about fly fishing, I would have to learn to tie my own flies. I wee never thick in the wallet so naturally I would borrow fly tying equipment from a friend who I wee working with at the time in Jackson Hole, Wyo. He also got conned into teaching me what he could about tying. Considering his experience with the art was very limited, we would both be struggling to imitate the very simplest patterns we figured the native trout would fall for. Luckily for us, those cutts were as short on brains as I was on cash.
With the Snake River as a testing ground, we experimented our way through the summer and managed to catch a few fish. It was always a thrill to see a dark form rise from the depths and inhale something that I had created with my own hands. I would never again be able to fish with a fly that I hadn't tied and expect to get full satisfaction from the fishing experience.
As the years have gone on, the patterns have become more complex and the Latin name has become important to me. Why this is, I'm not sure, but something about the entire spectrum of tying has added something to the sport that only doing it myself can give me. I started collecting the feathers of the ducks and pheasants I shot when I was a 12-year-old boy because I knew, one day, that I would want to tie my flies for myself.
The nest thing I knew, I was buying a leader kit to tie my own tapered leader. Not because I thought I could do a better job than the people at Dai-Rikki, but just because I wanted to do it myself. Call me arrogant if you will, so be it. The first time I hooked into a decent fish with one of those homemade jobs, I was sure one of my blood knots would fail. Many have, along the course of the years, but the satisfaction of landing a 26-inch brown and a 13-pound walleye on a fly and leader constructed by myself will live with me forever. More times that not I have been very satisfied with the results of the ones I have tied for myself.
Next I had to try my hand at building my own fly rod to get exactly the look and action I wanted. Selecting all the components to get the right wood for the reel seat and the exact color of thread I wanted was half the fun. I wanted it to be very personal so I even went as far as to have the butt cap engraved with my initials. Vanity strikes again. The end results were very satisfying to the eye and I was more excited to give this rod a trial run than any other rod I have ever owned.
The Green River seemed a proper place to baptize a new stick and it was as good an excuse to go there as I could think of. I was not disappointed with the action of that 9-foot, 4/5 weight by any means. It was an absolute pleasure to fish with. As you can imagine, it has become my favorite rod to ply the waters with.
A friend of mine, who is very good at wood working, has gone so far in the do-it-yourself mode that he is building his own nets and reel seats out of exotic woods that he digs up. The most beautiful net I have ever seen is one that he built for me this spring. I sometimes hesitate to plunge it into the water after a fish but it looks fantastic hanging on my back as well as in photos with colorful trout.
So what do you do if you want to create more of your own fishing gear? Fly tying classes are by far the best way to get started. There are many classes offered at specialty fly shops as well as sporting goods stores around the state. Not only do you learn how to tie flies, but you will pick up on lot of fishing tips from a good instructor. The camaraderie of a group of fly fishers is always a side benefit well worth the attendance once a week.
Many specialty fly shops around the state will help you in selecting components for building a rod and some give classes that supply the tools and the know how.
The personalization that can go into building a rod or tying your own flies can make the sport a much more intimate part of our lives. It can bring self-expression into going one-on-one with a midging trout or an ambushing smallmouth. True satisfaction can come from putting as much love into our equipment as we do into our fishing.