I had kind of the same experience as you did in that one of my mentors is an exceptional tyer and did so professionally at one time. He told me that he didn't feel like he knew a fly until he had tied a "dozen-dozen". A.K. Best has a similar quote in one his books. I'll tie a dozen when doing trout flies, but when I tie bonefish flies, I stick with half a dozen. Most trips I've been on, I rarely lose flies and they are so bombproof (I zap a gap everything in sight) that I rarely will use more than 3-4 of one pattern. I love to tie and will inevitably hand out flies to anyone who wants some, which means I get to tie more. Good stuff.
One other invaluable tip he told me was to never let a "throwaway" fly in your box. You boys know what I'm talking about. Especially when tying a new pattern, there's those inevitable ties where the wing is a little too long, or the body is too stout, or the hackle is too small. I used to put those in my box thinking that in a pinch, I would use them. I never, ever do and will usually look for a different pattern. If I tie a bug that is not up to snuff, I will put it in a separate container and palm it off on one of my fishing buddies rather than let it take up valuable space in my box.
I'm fortunate in that I have a room for tying and abundant tying time. I used to lay stuff out, but I realized that I have about 3,000 flies in my vest and gear bags, and I am really in no hurry and can take my time. I really enjoy messing around with different stuff and trying different variations of a fly. I rarely will tie a steelhead pattern the same, and will mix something up on most ties. Have fun on your trip.
Last edited by Geordie Shanks; 11-29-2007 at 01:54 PM.