So Christmas morning arrives, and we are opening packages. Eventually, I happen upon a package that has a little bit of weight to it. I open it, and to my surprise my first fly tying kit.
The swap forces me to tie a dozen or more flies each month. For the swap itself, it has 12 members, so I have to do at minimum 12 flies, plus a few for the host that month. One of my first themes, is creating flies based on Catskill Dries. I chose the Light Cahill. It was not a pretty fly. But it has signficance because I caught my first trout on my own fly, with this one! It was a tiny brookie on a clear water stream, I just dipped it in, and he jumped at it. That fly still sits in my truck, never to be used again as a treasure.
Each month the themes varied. Sometimes it was a nymph, sometimes a dry, once it was tie a fly one size smaller than you ever have before. (that meant a size 20 for me).
Since then I have collected quite a few more materials, hooks, and tools. However, I still use the vise that came in this kit. it works beautifully, and I've never had an issue with it. It's a big difficult to use on size 20 flies, but for now, it's great for my budget.
The best part about the swap, wasn't that I was just building my skills up, but I was also filling up my fly box. Each month, I'd get a dozen flies of various varieties. Sure, I couldn't use all of them. Periodically I'd get a warm water fly, a carp fly, or something just as strange. Those flies go in a separate box for when I decide to go warm water fishing. I also may have a few salmon and steelhead flies in there too.
I will warn, it takes commitment. When my daughter arrived, I had to bow out of the swap, as being a new parent was making it very difficult for me to get on my vise on a regular basis. But it was fun, and now, I just join in the periodic fly swap that involves something that will help me when I'm on the river.
I also tie flies about once or twice a week now. I generally do about 2-4 flies per session before the dog, cat, or my daughter need my attention.
If you are new, I also suggest you take a look at the great tutorials provided by Fly Anglers Online. They will have you tying like an expert in just a few short weeks.
This post isn't a review on my starter kit. The materials that came with that kit have all been used and replaced. But more, I want my readers who have thought about taking the plunge to consider it more. There really isn't anything more relaxing on a cold winter's night than watching hockey, drinking a beer or a manhattan, while tying a few flies for the coming fishing season.