Good saddle hackle
|Whiting trumps others|
The hackle I have, Metz capes, is generally crap. Sparse. Twisty. Tapered. Did I mention how sparse they are? Everything a dry fly hackle should not be.
For a long time I've looked longingly at Whiting saddles. They're described as lusciously dense and true to size and splendid to wrap. I never got around to buying some and now on account of the global hackle shortage they can only be found in hair salons. But thanks to ebay and a few fly shops selling online, Whiting 100s are pretty easy to come by. I ordered some.
After tying my first Whiting hackled fly (a yellow Stimi), I declare them worth every penny. Luxurious. Dense. Twistless. Save your pennies. Buy some.
|Metz Cape on Left. Whiting Saddle on Right. You decide.|
The heft of a good book
I'm a sucker for a good book. I don't mean one that tells a good tale or informs on something relevant or important. I'm talking about the feel of the book in the hand. The construction of the binding. The texture of the cover. The feel and, yes, the smell, of the pages. Those of you who understand are nodding slowly in appreciation, perhaps envisioning one of your favorite books; one with good "hand". The rest of you think I'm friggin' nuts (and are dreaming up "hand" puns to put in the comments).
On the subject of fly fishing and fly tying I have
Which in a long winded way brings me to subject at hand.
I was up in Manchester at the mother ship and saw the new book by Tom Rosenbauer, The Orvis Guide to Essential American Flies. I didn't know what to expect though as I thumbed through the pages I thought, "Ah, a pattern book, I know how to tie these flies, let's move on."
But as I held the book and thumbed through it again it was one of those books that just felt right and so I made the purchase ($35 at Orvis but you can get it for $23 on Amazon) and gave it a read.
This book does have recipes for the flies that most of us carry when trout fishing (with a few saltwater flies as well) so is a valuable resource for tiers from that perspective. Almost all the photography in the book is by Tom and is top notch. I need to shoot him an email to learn his techniques for shooting flies in the vice; crisp and detailed.
|Detailed, illustrated instructions|
The step-by-step instructions are illustrated, detailed, include tips as well as Tom's own brand of humor (those of you who listen to his podcast will know what I mean). My favorite is in his instructions on the Royal Wulff:
...If you put too much tension on these wraps, the thread will creep up the wings and those black winds over the white wings will show up in the finished fly. And no brown trout more than six inches long will ever take your fly when it sees how sloppy it is....
|Who knew there was so much variation|
in Elk Hair?
Did I learn anything from the book? Yes. The history stuff was mostly new to me. I now have an appreciation for the use of the various types of Elk Hair I own and I can now tie a Stimulator in the proper proportions.
Overall, I rate this book very high and well worth the purchase price. Not only is it a good pattern book but it condenses tips and techniques you might find in a tome like the Benchside Reference to those that are relevant to patterns we all use. And as a bonus, you get it all in the Rosenbauer conversational manner that is so effective in the podcast.
Buy some good hackle. Tie some of the classics.