Ask Fly Tyer

QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS: which hook to use, how to select the correct thread size, how to determine the proper proportions for a pattern, and what is the best way to store the precious flies we tie? How old is fly tying? Who are the most important tiers in the history of the craft? These few questions barely scratch the surface of this very deep and sometimes complex subject.

Tying flies is a pastime, but take it seriously and it will grow into a passion. And like all passions, the more we learn, the more we realize what we do not know, so we pose even more questions. What ingredient can we substitute for some hard-to-find material? Do we really need to use head cement? Is it okay to tie a fly using mostly synthetic materials, and if we do, at what point does a fly become a lure? And, if we cast a slithering worm using a fly rod, are we bait or fly fishing? Or, if we cast a heavily weighted pattern, such as a large Clouser Minnow, with ultra-light spinning tackle, are we spin or fly fishing?

With experience at the vise and lots of time on the water, we ask increasingly complex questions. We learn, we grow, and we become more proficient at the tying bench. Our flies become more lifelike and durable, and we catch more fish. And we uncover even more questions.

I have tied flies for close to five decades, I’ve edited this magazine for twenty-five years, and I have written a dozen fly tying books. And you know what? I am still filled with awe and wonder for our craft, and I still have a lot of questions.

Regardless of your years of experience or proficiency at the vise, I know you have questions, too. You read Fly Tyer magazine, and I know you have questions; due to space constraints, no article can resolve every question about a fly or tying method. Here is your chance to ask questions about the flies and tying techniques you discover in this magazine. In fact, ask any fly tying or fishing questions you like. Our crack team of authors will tackle your queries, and we’ll publish their responses in future issues of this magazine.

Let me start with a philosophical question that actually has legal ramifications: what, exactly, is fly fishing? What if I do cast that worm with a fly rod, or a hefty Clouser with spinning tackle? Is fly fishing about the fly, the method of presentation, or both?

Send your questions about fly tying and fishing—and even life—to [email protected]. And, if you think you can answer my question—what is fly fishing?— let me know.

– David Klausmeyer