Favorite Tyer [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Favorite Tyer

10-20-2004, 03:42 PM
I like to believe that even the greatest tyers were influenced at one time or another by the work of someone else.

Among us a special chord was struck after watching a demonstration or attending a class. Others were inspired by a particular book, a magazine article, or perhaps (more recently) an Internet posting.

What tyers, known or unknown, past or present, have had the greatest impact on your methods, style, or philosophy on flytying?

Who's your favorite tyer or tyers - and why?



10-20-2004, 10:50 PM
Back in the 1960's Art Flick and the Dettes were very influential for Caskill style dry flies and for bucktail streamers. There flies were delicate looking because of the sparseness of tie; but they were very durable and excellent fish getters.

The Carlise, PA gang personified by Charlie Fox and his fishing partner Vince Marinaro had a great influence because of their use of terristials and very small flies on light tippets. Also, Marinaro's thorax dun style of tying mayfly duns had a big impact.

There was a local professional tyer, Leon Wronski, who I met when I was 14 back in 1967 at one of the first hunting and fishing days. He taught me how to spin deer hair, how to tie deer hair poppers for bass, stack different colors of deer hair in a manner that is similar to how Dave Whitlock does so, mount duck quill wet fly wings so they lay straight, and tie nymphs. In fact, he was one of the very few people I knew at that time who bothered to fish impressionistic nymphs. He taught me so much about materials, how to choose good materials, how to make materials do what you want, and that it is not necessary to use a lot of thread wraps to have a durable fly.

Joe Humphreys who taught me how to tie a 2 feather mayfly and the double haul when I took his fly fishing class at Penn State in 1973. He also showed me and taught me how to tie George Harvey's Night Fly, which I used to catch many browns and rainbows in the middle of the night that were between 5 and 15 pounds. Joe also taught me how the fish the Leisingring lift and what the soft hackle flies were supposed to look like (so sparse that the thread color shows through the dubbing).

Earnest Swiebert had a major influence with his books, MATHING THE HATCH and NYMPHS. I also was fortunate to have met him on Pennsylvania's Broadheads Creek and he was generous to a fault to me with his knowledge of caddis egg laying.

Charlie Brooks, another person I got to meet and know before he died, for his large, impressionistic stonefly and dragon fly nymphs. He was quite a character, as anyone who met him could attest.

Pat Barnes for his great stories of the old days in Yellowstone and for showing me how to tie the Humpy or as he called it, the Goofus Bug the easy way.

Dave Whitlock for teaching me about using Sportman's Goop thinned with toluene (it was later marketed as Dave's Flexament) to hold hair in place with only 2 oe 3 wraps of thread while producing a more durable fly at the same time. He also taught me about the advantages of using flat-waxed nylon thread for spinning deer hair and showed me how to tie a version of his famous hopper pattern that used orange polypropolene bailing twine for the "kicker legs".

Al Troth for his elk hair caddis and for showing me that the Girdle Bug, or its newer version the Yuk Bug in black or brown as very good impressionistic imitations of crane fly larvae. Also, he showed me how to tie the Zonker.

Gary LaFountaine for his caddis imitations and his book CADDISFLIES.

Lee Wulff for his Wulff series of dry flies he developed with Dan Bailey. As an aside, Lee never tied with a vise and if you were ever fortunate enough to see him tie a #14 or #16 Royal Wulff in his finger while standing up, he were indeed a lucky person. Lee was generous to a fault with his knowledge and I only regret I only met him 3 times.

Poul Jorgenson was a major influece because he ties nearly all styles of flies, and I have long thought that to be considered a very good tyer, you needed to be able to tie nearly any style of fly and do it well. Poul was my inspiration for this lifelong persuit. Also, for his book SALMONFLIES: CHARACTER, STYLE, AND DRESSING because it provided clear instruction on how to tie the classic featherwings.

Syd Glasso who tied flies that are among the finest ever tied. He was the inspiration for me to tie spey flies and my spey flies have a lot of Glasso influence in them. Bob Veverka who ties in a manner very similar to Glasso.

Alec Jackson for his use of ostrich rope made from ostrich and a single strand of oval tinsel, a simple and very elegant way to produce a body that breathes. Also, for getting his hooks made and offered to tyers who wanted quality hooks of a proper shape for speys, and then expanding his hook offerings

Marvin Nolte, his classic salmon flies speak for themselves. He and Judy Lemberg were the first people I ever saw tie classic featherwings and seeing both of them tying the flies was a revelation. I learned far more through this than from Jorgenson's book on salmon flies.

Steve Gobin for showing me how to tie the wings on Glasso's spey flies so they tented instead of being knife edged. Steve also taught me how to break down the fibers of schlappen so they don't stick and clump together.

Many of the old classic featherwing salmon fly masters have influenced me in both large and small ways. Among these are: Kelson, Hardy, Hale (from whom I learned the easy way to tie bronze mallard wings), Blacker, Price-Tannat, Tolfrey, Maxwell, Francis, Knox, and Chaytor.

There are many others some famous, some well-known, some only known to a few who have also influenced my tying. One of these is Don Kaas of Port Angeles who was taught tie by Glasso and who showed me spey flies tied with G.P. dyed saddle feathers mounted horizontally over the body like those on the General Practioner.

10-20-2004, 11:34 PM
One of the first tyers I ever saw that really got me excited about tying was Darc Knobel, used to run the Blue Dun Fly Shop in Wenatchee. The first time I ever saw one of his spey flies I thought, WOW, i want to do that.

I've taken bits and pieces of a bunch of differnet tyers when I finally started to realize what I really like. I love Bob Veverka's dee flies, John Shewey's bronze mallard wings, Paul Rossman's floss tags and floss bodies, and i've just recently become extremely fond of Glasso's hackle-tip wings and those nice and tiny, perfectly tapered heads. I hope to one day be able to put all of their qualities into one fly. I don't know if this is achievable but I aim to try.

I've never taken a tying class but I hope to one day be able to take one with one of the people whose flies I've become so fond of.


10-21-2004, 03:19 PM
It's probably Poul Jorgenson for me. Like Flytyer said his book SALMON FLIES: CHARACTER, STYLE, AND DRESSING was fantastic. I learned a great deal from that book. He was a good guy when I met him too. That surprised me at first. He has a reputation as being a bit crotchety, but he turned out to be cool. :smokin:


10-21-2004, 04:12 PM
For me it has to be Doc Olsen.

He had a shop in Salt Lake City for years. When I was a kid and first learning to tie he helped me along the way more than any other one person. Many the time I went into his shop with a nickle or a dime and came away with what had to be several dollars worth of flies or fly tying stuff.

The Summer I was eleven (1951)I was pushing an ice cream cart by his shop evey day. Most days I spent my lunch time at his vise.

Just thinking of that fine old fellow brings mist to my eyes.


10-21-2004, 05:07 PM
If I could have been taught to tie by any one tyer, it would most definitely would have been the principal from Forks WA.

I never got to meet him while I was still stomping around the OP, but just seeing his ties has been a huge inspiration - particularly the ones shown in the color plates in Bate's book.

What I liked most about his patterns was that they represented a re-awakening of the classic Spey style under pacific northwest terms, a place where I enjoyed steelhead with a fly for over 20 years now.

I have been inspired by many anglers in my flies, some great tyers and some not even fly fishermen but provided some concept that somehow applied to flies. But to cite one contemporary tyer of most influence it would have to be Mr.Glasso.

10-22-2004, 12:13 AM
My Dad,
He certainly never made the most famous list, he has never won national, let alone international fame, but he did teach me the most important lessons in fly tying. Everything else I've read since (age 7) has been a clarification of his principles.
Tie well or not at all!
Fish every fly you tie, even the really bad ones, and learn something...
Respect proportions & color variations of the naturals...
Let your imagination, not only logic & science, drive your tying skills..
Other significant influences:
Flytier, from this board, this guy amazes me with his detailed knowledge of all sorts of patterns, you can see why with the prior post of his...
Juro, for turning me onto salt water patterns and John (Striblue) for his inspiration and passion about SW flies, many of the patterns I got from Juro and/or John have turned out to be great pike patterns, some are even inpirations to trout streamers....

Ol Rich
10-22-2004, 11:57 AM
Aaron Reimer has shown me more about how to use materials. Every time I stop by his shop he shows me something new.


10-24-2004, 09:18 AM
1) Eric Leiser-When I was learning to tie in the seventies he lived nearby and my folks got me one of his books to learn from. It was cool as a kid to know any author, period. As it was the only fly tying instruction I had, his word was gospel. I learned all the basics from him

2) Walt Dette-I got to meet him when I was 11 at a hunting camp in the Catskills. His flies and utilitarian techniques kept my spirit alive while I was struggling with finding my "own" style. I have a set of flies tied by him over my desk to this day, including one of his gorgeous Coffin Flies.

3) Bill Hunter- This man took more time then anyone ever should to help me with my salmon and spey flies. What a storyteller as well!

While many others have had significant influence on my tying(such as AK Best, Poul Jorgensen, Syd Glasso, Harry Darbee, Rube Cross, TE Pryce-Tannant, etc...) these top three have influenced me directly and there voices echo through every fly I tie

Topher Browne
10-24-2004, 12:13 PM
For Full-Dressed Salmon Flies, Paul Schmookler is the finest I have seen.

For Spey-style flies, Bob Veverka has influenced me more than any other.

For speed, sense of proportion, and all-around precision at the vise, I have never seen a tyer to match Warren Duncan of St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. His Hair-Wing Atlantic Salmon flies, especially his Bombers, are perfect.

For Trout flies, especially Dry Flies, Del Mazza of, I believe, Utica, New York, is tops in my book.

Capt. Mel Simpson
10-25-2004, 10:59 PM
It has to be Edward L. Haas.

His devotion to the function, design and the fishability of his steelhead flies is beyond reproach. And then they were tied to perfection.

I watched him tie a fly one rainy afternoon, it changed my life!


02-06-2006, 07:07 AM
i have been tieing flies for about 20 years. i like to experiment with new materials and try to think out side the box. i baught a book by BOB P. on tieing the surf candy (and some other patterns). that book inspired me to try new methods and materials. any one who has tied flies for any amount of time has to hold a level of respect for BOB P. , LEFTY, CLOUSER, And Tim borski. If you have not viewed Tim Borski's DVD's "Borski ties flies" you are missing out! each disc is a perfect balance of fly tieing and fishing those patterns. after viewing the DVD's i was able to add about 4 more patterns to the list of flies that i like to tie and fish. Tim is an awesome tier who makes learning how to tie his patterns very easy, he is a great teacher! i think all of us who tie even the great well known tiers have a lot in common. we all love our sport and are all ways looking to improve it and make it more interesting, strive for a new edge and fly that preforms above the rest, and are eager to help others. i hope that some day when some one asks who their favorite fly tiers are that my name will be mentioned among the best flie tiers of our time which are mentioned above. if it is never mentioned it dosn't matter because even with out world wide recognition i have and will continue to love tieing and flyfishing, will all ways strive to invent new patterns, teach others who want to learn, and enjoy the moment every time i see some one catch fish on one of my flies!

02-06-2006, 06:14 PM
I wrote Lee Wulff once so many years ago I can't even recall what it was about. I got back about the longest, most thoughtful letter, I've ever received. It had me somewhat embarrassed for then, as now, I'm no more than an average, unknown fly fisherman. I felt bad about cutting into the time of this great man whom I really idolized. Whatever the subject I know it was nothing profound on my part yet Lee took the time to write about this and a number of other subjects as well. There was nothing "canned" about his reply and I'm still amazed that I would have received this attention from him.

Muckle Salmon
02-06-2006, 09:39 PM
Pryce-Tannatt - technique
Radencich - style


02-08-2006, 05:05 PM
I would mirror a lot of what flytyer has said.

For eastern trout I would also add Chauncy Lively, shame on you Russ for omitting a great PA angler, and Preston Jennings.

For steelhead flies it is impossible to not mention Glasso, and I have been influenced by the sleekness of Gobin. I would also mention Dec Hogan, simply for the fact that he has created a number of quality working steelhead flies that bridge old and new, simple yet elegant, classy yet fairly inexpensive, without resorting to marabou and egg-sucking leaches.

Bob Warren also deserves mention, as do many others.

But without a doubt, and nobody is a close second, it is Megan Boyd.
Yes, her flies were not as perfect as Radencich, but she tied some of the greatest fishing flies ever. As Pryce-Tannatt speaks of "soul" in terms of flies and tying, she had it. What is more impressive is that she had it and she was a production tier, and a non-angler. It is very difficult for inanimate objects to have souls, and it is practically impossible for them to be created by a non-angling production tier, which is probably her greatest feat of all.


- Ray

Muckle Salmon
02-08-2006, 07:20 PM
, classy yet fairly inexpensive, without resorting to marabou

- Ray

Pretty nervy there bud:hihi:


02-09-2006, 07:36 AM

Could you please explain how to break down the fibers on schlappen per what Mr. Gobin showed you? I think a lot of us could really profit by having that info available. Thanks in advance.

02-09-2006, 06:34 PM

I was amazed at how very easy it is to break the schlappen fibers down when Steve showed me how. This is how you do it:

1) Hold the feather in your left have with the shiny/good (concave side) side facing away from you.

2) Place the fibers from the right side of the feather against your forefinger's pad.

3) Place your right thumbnail on the fibers and press it against the forefinger pad.

4) Then simply pull your thumbnail and forefinger out from near the stem to the edge of the fibers.

5) The above process is done along the whole of the feather on the right side of it.

6) After you have "mashed" the fibers down with your thumb nail through the above process, simply strip the fibers off the opposite side.

The thus prepared schlappen feather is then tied in by its butt and wrapped tightly against the ribbing. When you get to the front of the body, put a single wrap of thread over the feather's stem and then make 2-3 turns of the feather as as if you were wrapping a hackle collar. Tie off the feather with 2-3 turns of thread and you are ready for the throat of face hackle.

As can be seen, it is a very easy process to do and it produces a spey or dee fly with schlappen that doesn't have the fibers cling together as it is fished.

02-10-2006, 04:43 AM
Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. I will give that a go and see how it works.

02-11-2006, 04:54 AM
"...working steelhead flies that bridge old and new, simple yet elegant, classy yet fairly inexpensive, without resorting to marabou..."

I think some of the simplest, most elegant, classy, and inexpensive flies you'll ever see (or use) are dressed with Marabou.

Just my opinion.


02-12-2006, 12:34 AM
I have nothing against marabou, as Muckle Salmon has eluded to I fish marabou. Simple, inexpensive, productive, even sleek, but classy and elegant. You are pushing it. Maybe if you show up with a box of Avon Eagles. If you are fishing amongst the rocks a lot, and dulling hooks quickly, or loosing flies, and visibility is poor then Cook-style flies are great. But marabou flies are too easy to fall back on, they don't really inspire me as an angler or a fly tyer. Just my opinion. Dec has produced a number of patterns that fall somewhere between Syd's Orange Heron and a General Practitioner. They are generally inexpensive, sometimes an issue if you are dulling or loosing a number of flies, fairly straight forward to tie, very productive, aesthetically pleasing and inspiring to both tie and fish. That was the only point I was trying to make.

- R

02-12-2006, 06:27 AM
"...but classy and elegant. You are pushing it. "

With all due respect, I don't think I'm 'pushing it' at all. There are any number of very talented tyers who can take an otherwise ordinary material like Marabou and dress an extraordinary fly - even classy and elegant.


02-12-2006, 09:32 AM
Syd Glasso for me.

He was an American who brought in the old with the new, the salmon with the steel, the east with the west and in a way no contemporary tyer will probably do again for centuries... if the fish last that long.

beau purvis
02-12-2006, 07:05 PM
McNeese,Vaverka,Glasso,some of Garrett.Shewey's best marabou can make for an elegant look when it is dry.Would not think of dragging anything on the bottom.Deep can be overrated.Beau

02-14-2006, 11:29 PM
I would say that Veverka got me started off in the right direction. Great body work and very repeatable patterns that can be re-colored and reused easily.

Recent years, Marc Leblanc of Maria, Quebec has turned out some of the simplest and most elegant fishing flies around. Few have his kind of attention to detail. The Picasse is a wonder and catches a hell of a lot of fish. His spey conversions of classic patterns like Black Dose and Green Highlander are amazing hackle body creations that are eminently fishable. I'm honored to fish his patterns every year in Gaspe.


02-21-2006, 12:04 AM
But the Biggy for me is Max Goin, former Jr. High PE Teacher and girl's basketball coach. When I was 10 years old, at Boy Scout Camp, he taught me how to tie a wooly worm. Fished that fly for a whole summer, catching lord knows how many rainbows and brookies before I lost it. I then pestered the hell out of my parents for a fly tying vice and materials (a bench vice, snelled hooks, hand wrapped thread, pipe cleaners and chicken feathers weren't quite cutting it) so I could tie a replacement and tie my own. 23 years later, I still exclusively tie my own. One of the most rewarding and challenging endeavors I've ever taken. And nothing beats a chrome bright wild fish on a spey fly you designed and tied your self.....:tongue: