Just like the many anglers you’ll meet on the water, you’re bound to rub elbows with plenty of interesting characters at your local tying night. If your local event is run inside a fly shop, you’re likely to meet the usual bunch of fly anglers and fly tyers, but if if the event is hosted at a bar, then that just opens up a can of worms of who you’ll meet. No matter where you’re tying flies or who you’re tying with, it’s all about having fun, so when you run into one of these characters below, make sure to share a beer with them.
Signs of an expert tyer range from obvious, like a massive beard or tattoos of flies on their forearms, to subtle, like a pricey bobbin, or a size 22 nymph hook in their vise. They’ll tie flies better than anyone else at the table, but will do so quietly, without bragging about it. If you’re new to fly tying, make sure to hunt the expert down and learn some new skills. The best way to learn quickly is to mine the knowledge from the brain of an expert and experts love to share a tip or two.
The Drunk (Or Stoner)
Every fly tying night, or at least the really good ones, will have plenty of liquid libations to go around, but that means there’s going to be the one tyer that’s maybe had a little too much. The drunk is going to be tying flies very slowly, or maybe even attempting to tie a fly without a hook in their vise. They’ll also probably be sharing useless tying tips all night to anyone within earshot, such as, “If you want to catch a 30″ trout you need to be tying with purple. PURPLE!”
The high tyer is harmless, they’ll just be staring at the fly in their vise in wonder, quietly giggling that fish actually eat them willingly. Keep all soft zonked bunny strips away from them or they’ll pet the material all night long until it dissolves.
The Walk In
Especially if the event is being held at a bar, there might be someone sitting at the table that looks lost. They might have been walking by the fly shop and seen a bunch of happy people drinking beer at a table and let their curiosity get the best of them. They’ll be trying to watch the tyers around them to figure it out on their own because asking for help is embarrassing. Take these people under your wing and show them a good time at the vise. Maybe you’ll even convert them and convince them to go fishing with you the next day.
The beginner knows that they want to be there but they might look equally as lost as the walk in. Before starting any step at tying the fly they’ll double check they’re doing it right. They might ask a million questions, but it’s your job to happily answer every single one of them so they feel welcome. Make sure to explain how each step affects the fly’s movement in the water or how it relates to a fly fishing tactic. This way once they get on the water they’ll be able to put the new fly to use, instead of just flailing it around, get discouraged and give up. Maybe they’ll even catch a few fish and fall in love with fly fishing for life.
That breathing you feel on the back of your neck? That’s a critic shaking his head at your hackle spinning or your color choice. “I’d never use olive for that tail, what were you thinking,” they’ll say, or maybe something like, “always reverse hackle, who taught you how to tie?”
Forgive the critic, for they don’t know what they’re doing. Deep down every critic just wants to feel appreciated for their knowledge and skill. Instead of yelling at them to back off, just distract them instead. They’ll soon find someone else to “teach.”
Your New Fishing Buddy
This is the reason we all go to tying nights. Every once in a while the stars align and you’ll be sitting next to someone who loves chucking streamers as much as you, thinks nymphing sucks and who also doesn’t understand why more people don’t sleep in their truck beside the river and get a few more casts in before building a fire and breaking out the whiskey. You’ve just met your new fly fishing and fly tying buddy. Try not to scare them off with your excitement, keep your cool and get a local fly fishing trip in the books.
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