Last Minute Tying

Will the fish eat today what you tied last night? As a working guide, the late night tying sessions before the next day’s trip are a part of life during the busy summer when clients can break off a half dozen of that real good fly one day leaving you empty-handed for the next trip. You’ve got two options if you want to make it through the season: geating good at the vise work, or getting used to dropping $20 a day at the fly shop. Your choice. For anglers that aren’t guiding, but want to be well-armed and ready for the day ahead a quick tying session has other benefits other than just the flies it produces.

A handful of salmonfly dries should get you through a bright early June day.

For one, tying what you expect to find on the river the next day can get you more in the mindset of fly choice and streamside etymology. Now, if you’re one of those set in your ways anglers that just knows you’ll throw on the same wooly bugger tomorrow as you did for the last fifteen years, then you probably aren’t reading a fly fishing blog in the first place. But if you’re reading a fly fishing blog, you’ve thought about bugs. And thinking about the bugs you might encounter will have you ahead of the action when the gameplay shifts. Take, for example, the big hatch on everyone’s lips around Missoula right now: Salmonflies. Everyone wants to get to the river with one fly, fish it all day, and go home happy. Easier said than done. Bushes, low-hanging tree branches, and willows are the favorite hangouts of the big clumsy pteronarcys adults. These same obstacles love to grab a fly to get a closer look, and sometimes really want to keep them. So an extra handful of your favorite pattern will come in handy.

Second, a quick tying session will often force you to speed up your production and might help you parse a complex fly down into the essential elements. This is getting guidey, my friend. Get those flies down to the least amount of materials while still being effective and you’re on to something. Chances are you’ll tie more of them later. Your technique will get better, and you’ll be seeing immediate results the next day.


A few smaller brown stones will come in handy when the fish aren’t going after the big stuff.
And since we’ve already got the vise out…

One of the best added benefits of a last minute tying session is that you can fill in gaps in the flybox for things you might encounter that aren’t the ” big hatch”. What about a few san juan droppers for those early hours when the fish aren’t coming up readily to the big stuff? Or some caddis for that back eddy? Bang a few out on the vise the night before and you’ve got them on hand when you need them, and you’ll be thinking about the sub-hatches that you’ll encounter that can save the day when the fish get picky.
A last minute tying session can really change your game, and I don’t recommend putting the vise away for the summer just because the bugs are here. Keep tying through the summer and you’ll save money and be more in tune with the rivers you fish. And that’s never a bad thing.


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