Fly Fishing Forum - View Single Post - MARCH BROWN
View Single Post
Old 04-15-2008, 02:35 PM
flytyer flytyer is offline
Pullin' Thread
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: NW Washington
Posts: 3,346
Beautifully tied Catskill style classic and it sends me down memory lane on how I started tying flies.

These Catskill style dries are what got me into fly tying when I was 9 years old. I got tired of hearing Dad complain about the difficulty in getting properly tied dry flies unless he ordered them months in advance from the Dette's, Darby, Flick, or Orvis. I not only got tired of hearing Dad complain, I was also tired of seeing the poorly tied and proportioned flies the local sporting goods stores in Northeastern PA had in stock (this was back in the early '60's). So, after bugging Dad for more than a year, he finally got me a good vise (Herter's Model 9), good scissors, a poor bobbin, some head cement, a book on tying (Herter's PROFESSIONAL FLY TYING, SPINNING, AND LURE MAKING), some hooks, and the materials to tie a few simply flies for Christmas. I was like a kid in a candy store.

Anyhow, after some struggling (it is not easy learning to tie from a book, remember this was pre-video era too) to flies like the Grey Hackle, Hare's Ear Nymph, Brown Hackle (the Woolley Bugger hadn't been devised yet at that time), etc. I moved on to dry flies that I left the wings out off of because it was hard enough to get a decent looking hackle job at the time with the Indian Rooster Necks we had to tie with (yes, this was pre-genetic hackle available on the market). We used to have to use 2 and sometimes 3 of those short hackles to tie a fly.

After about 2 years, I finally figured out that I needed better material for the wings than the really poor quality dyed mallard I had spent the few dollars I made mowing lawns and picking huckleberries on. Once I spent the little extra for better winging material, the Catskill style dries started to look OK. However, it wasn't until I was 14 and met a professional fly tyer who lived in the area (back then it was possible for a good tyer to make a good living tying flies) and had him teach me some of the things he learned over the years. This was also my first introduction to genetic hackle. Leon Wronski was his name and he had gotten some hackle capes from the Darbee's. Made tying a dry much easier, unfortunately Leon wouldn't let me buy even one of them because they were hard to come by.

Then around 1969 when I was 16, I saw a beautiful blue dun neck at a local hunting and fishing store. It has a price tag of the then unreal high price of $15.00 on it. I had to have it and I spent some of the money I earned planting trees in reclaimed strip mines on it (this was when wages for this work were $1.50/hr). This neck was a Metz neck. A year later I saw a grizzly neck in the same store and gladly paid the $20.00 asking price, it was also a Metz.

Folks getting into fly tying and fly fishing have it much nicer now than "back in the day" with videos, books with great photos, the internet sites like this one, fly shops instead of sporting goods or hunting and fishing stores, and great genetic hackle. And everytime I see a well-tied Catskill style dry, it brings a smile to me.

Thanks for sending me down memory lane.
Reply With Quote