An open note to fly tying purists

Dear fly tying purists of the world,

I’m pretty sure that the following statement has never been uttered by a trout….

“Can you believe this guy? Coming at me with brown hackle when the pattern clearly called for grizzly?!?”

Yeah, never happened, ever.

So let’s get something straight right from the beginning of my fly tying career:

  • If I want to overdub the body of my fly to get a slightly meatier build, I’m going to do that.
  • If I want to use 7-8 strands of hair on my tails, instead of the 4-5 that you swear it has to have, I’m going to do that.
  • If my wings are .000000451″ slightly too far back on the hook, it’s okay.
  • If the pattern calls for dark olive thread and I only have dark brown thread, I’m going to use dark brown, get over it.
  • If my hackle is slightly thicker because I happen to like the look of slightly thicker hackle, you’re gonna have to live with it.

I understand that there are those of you out there that are absolute purists when it comes to fly fishing and tying certain fly patterns. I get it. Certain patterns were meant to be tied certain ways, using certain materials to certain specifications.

I also understand when someone new to the game ties their first few flies and the proportions are way off or something just absolutely looks out of place. Constructive criticism is a great way for people to learn new things.

But there is a big difference in

Hey, your hackle is just a little too long there, shorten it up for a little better presentation.”

versus saying

OMFG!! Your hackle is way too long and to top it off, you used brown?!?! That pattern will never work without grizzly hackle, just like (insert name here) tied it 40 years ago. Good luck getting a bite on that thing.”

So you purists that are all over the fly tying forums these days, lighten up. It’s okay for people to tie their patterns in different ways. Your help and your experience is great, and much appreciated by new people like myself, but you should understand that things are different now.

Without innovation, progression and a certain discontent for the “rules”, fly fishing and fly tying would be pretty damn boring if you ask me. So lighten up there Mr. Purist and understand that fly tying is an art, and as such, people are going to put their spin on it and their style on it to create what they like, not what you think it should be.

Now, go tie something and have fun, and take it easy on those out there that may not quite see things the same way you do.

Cory Perry
I'm a husband, father and fly fishing geek living in Greenville, SC. I'm down with slinging flies, tying flies and spending every minute I can enjoying the vast outdoors with my family and friends.

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