Tie now, fish later

The longest night of the year is approaching, which might sound a bit ominous to those who don’t hunch over a fly-tying vise on cold winter nights, concocting next summer’s offerings to rising trout.

As kids of all ages are anxiously awaiting the arrival of good, old Santa Claus in just a few evenings by gorging on Christmas movies and holiday fare, some of us have found a way to make these crisp, dark nights productive. This is the time of year when I tie probably close to 90 percent of my flies for the coming season. I look at the calendar for the coming year and start working on patterns for trips I’ve scheduled, if any. I’ve already tied bunch of streamers and Slumpbusters. I’ve tied my attractor dries and a few Clousers and Pistol Pete’s for a southern trip this spring.

This week, I’m starting on terrestrials with this great pattern from Tim Flagler (although I’m tying mine bigger and in black). Ants, hoppers and beetles will fill at least one box, probably two if I can stretch my materials. I love tying foam terrestrials—they’re easy to craft and, so long as your sillhouette is generally accurate, trout don’t seem to mind if they’re not dead-on perfect.

Still to come, though, is a host of saltwater patterns for bonefish and baby tarpon for a trip to Mexico this spring if all the cards fall just right.

Mostly, though, I prep for trout. That’s what’s in my backyard, and, honestly, despite the appeal of bigger, stronger and faster fish in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean, trout are my favorites. So I tend to tackle those flies now, and then, as far-flung trips approach, I buckle down and tie for them.

I look at wintertime tying as an investment. When the days are long and warm here in the northern Rockies, it pays to be on the water until last light. With the flies tied and ready to go, I don’t feel as though I need to pull out the vise and rustle up flies. Instead, I can sit next the fire, enjoy a cocktail and revel in being in the right place at the right time and know that I’ll be ready to go again the next day.

Tie now. Fish later.

— Chris Hunt

By Chris Hunt.