Thus did things continue until, during one of the most glorious Montana grasshopper seasons I have ever known, there came a night when I was surrounded by growling. Okay, it was snoring, but it would have frightened off real lions, and it sounded like there were a few just beyond the pool of my lamplight. My buddies were sleeping. I wasn’t. Yet again, I had finished far too few flies.
That’s when I did something I’m still deeply ashamed of: I divided up the flies I’d tied, keeping twice what I was going to give away! I hid the extras out of sight in a different compartment in my fly box. The lions kept on growling, but I don’t remember having troubled dreams.
For a while after that, I felt great. I still tied at night, but for the first time there were days when I made it through on the flies I had. My friends seemed even more grateful than usual for the ones I gave them. Geez, you want to talk about hindsight turning hazy golden? In it, everything seemed perfect. The rivers were hauntingly beautiful, low, and as clear as vision. The trout were just plain stupid. Anytime someone ran out of flies, I’d give them another one or two. My companions thought I was dipping into my own share for their sake, sometimes even making real sacrifices. I came off as their truest friend, but you and I know I wasn’t.
I tried to live with it. I tried to convince myself I would get over it and that I deserved what I held back, but my guilt grew.
I don’t remember exactly how long I managed to keep it up. I was never caught. It must have been well into the following spring before I realized I had to change my ways. You always hear that confession leads to healing and I know that’s so, but I never confessed to what I had done. I simply began announcing that I was cheating them. “I keep two, you get one,” said I, dividing our flies up.
And do you know what? No one even blinked. If anything, the gang seemed to think it was fair.
Good Friends, Shared Flies, and Fond Memories
Perhaps it’s good to harden yourself, to dispense tough love and fewer flies. Or maybe it just comes down to fishing with friends who are more charitable in spirit. Somehow I’ve remained lucky in all of this, and in my own turn, I am grateful.
Now when a friend needs another fly, I’m quick to give it to him. There are still afternoons when I end up short, but do you know what? I’m also fishing more slowly and thoroughly. I’m not so concerned about catching as I am with seeing. It might be that I’ve become a watcher. We’ll have to talk more about that soon.
My fondest—and most unlikely—fantasy is that one day my motel-room flies will be tied for me. I wonder what it’s like to be one of the lions. Sometimes when I don’t feel like tying, I tell them to go snore. And sometimes, we all decide to just go buy a few flies the next morning. It rarely happens that way, but the point is that it can. I doubt I’ll ever be the kind of fellow who ties much in advance. I won’t get rid of the feeling that I always need more. But these are small worries.
I asked earlier if you can be forced to be generous. I don’t think so. You’re truly generous only when you find an honest way to go about it. I give my buddies flies. Sometimes they give some back. I’ve spent many days fishing with them, and those are the best of my memories.
Bill “Bugs” Logan is a fine artist, great tier, and good friend. He is also a cherished member of the Fly Tyer family of authors. For more information about his art, go to his website, www.billloganart.com.