With daytime temps finally reaching the 50’s, 60’s, and even, on occasion, the 70’s, it’s starting to get hard to remember the bitterly cold winter we just had. But those who attended the BC Flyfishers winter fly tying classes during those cold days are not likely to forget, especially when they use some of the fish-catching patterns they tied in class on Southern Tier waters.
Not even into its second year as a chapter, the BC Flyfishers launched a class in fly tying that began in January. The class was developed by board member and fly tyer, John Trainor, and was designed to be suitable for beginners and experienced tyers wanting to learn and improve techniques with a focus on tying fundamentals and the basics in tying wet flies, nymphs, streamers and dry flies. Besides some of the classic patterns, Trainor added productive patterns used by guides like Tim Barrett, Loren Williams and Ken Tutalo to his course.
This course was a serious “hands on” class and not a show and tell affair. Beginners received dedicated assistance of an experienced tyer sitting with them to accelerate the learning experience. The course also showed attendees where to find and use excellent “how to” and “step by step” fly-tying instruction available on the Internet. A CD was provided at the end of the course, containing all the class lessons, including internet links to many excellent fly tying sites and fly tying tutorials.
The class met over three months for a total of 6 classes. Each class featured complete fly tying materials in organized kits. The instructor for each class was seated front and center with a camera, laptop, and projector, so students could watch as each fly was tied. Instructional videos were also shown before each pattern was started so the instructor could give students an overview of the fly they were about to tie.
A variety of instructors were used for the class and they were all very good tyers. Following is the list of the instruction that was provided:
- Lesson 1, Nymphs, (Tim Barrett, instructor). Patterns tied were the Pheasant Tail, Rainbow Warrior, and Ausable Ugly.
- Lesson 2, Streamers, (Mike Maye, instructor). Patterns tied were the Wooly Bugger, Bunny Fly, Clouser Minnow, and the Leadwing Coachman.
- Lesson 3, Caddis, (John Trainor, instructor). Patterns tied were the Ice Caddis, Barr’s Graphic Caddis, Troth’s Elk Hair Caddis, X-Caddis, and LaFontain’s Sparkle/Emergent Pupa.
- Lesson 4, Mayfly Dry Flies, (John Trainor, instructor). Patterns tied were the Rabbit Foot Emerger, Red Quill (Male Hendrickson), Comparadun (Hendrickson Female), and Rusty Spinner.
- Lesson 5, Other Dry Flies, (Eric Tomosky, instructor). Patterns tied were the Royal Wulff, Stimulator, Madame-X, and Foam Body Ant (flying version).
- Lesson 6, Steelhead flies and Advanced Techniques, (John Trainor, instructor). Patterns tied were the Glo Bug, Stonefly, Articulated String Leech, and Woven Stonefly.
Classes were well-attended. This included people who just showed up to watch the tying and listen to the instructors. Some patterns were more challenging than others, but the nice thing about the selection of patterns is that they all featured some aspect of fly tying that could be transferred to other flies. I was a student myself and felt the instruction was a fantastic value for $35. My favorite tie was the woven golden stonefly nymph.
Based on the great feedback received on this course, there’s a high probability that fly tying classes will continue in the future. The BC Flyfishers chapter is working hard to expand membership and provide other value-added offerings such as fly fishing instruction, casting clinics, conservation outings, on-the-stream fishing events, and a guest speaker program at monthly chapter meetings.
Fly fishing usually starts with basics. Anglers gradually gain experience and as they do, begin to buy flies. Many eventually venture into fly tying, concluding at some point that they too, “can do this”. With time, they experiment and find their flies sometimes work as well or better than those available for sale. It blossoms from there: another addiction, fun, camaraderie, and long evenings at the vise…