Do They Care?

A reflection on tidy fly choices while in isolation

Those who immerse themselves in the dark art of fly tying, spend hours upon hours at the vice, tying, building and creating flies to tempt our quarry. If you are like me, you start, stop, undo, reposition, finish, discard, only to start all over again. We often reject it for no other reason than it didn’t look how our mind’s eye had imagined it, regardless of its potential ability to fool a fish.

In this twilight zone, we are currently subject to, with all the uncertainty about what we should or shouldn’t do, I have found myself pondering all manner of things. To remedy my boredom, I have been sifting through draws and fly boxes, recalling the journey those flies have been on.

A modest little Dahlberg diver peaked my attention. Back in 2015 when my fly fishing tale was emerging, I fell head over heels into tying, and this deer hair stuff had me captivated, admiring images online of the artwork that could be created with it by skilled hands. Names like Pat Cohen and a local bloke called Chris Adams inspired me to give it a whirl. After many flies were tied and discarded, I finally had a little tan Dahlberg I was happy with, so off to the Brisbane River I went.

The first morning I fished that fly, it surpassed all my expectations – five lovely bass ate it and made their way to the boat, including what is still my biggest fly caught bass at 47cm. Once the fly dried out, I inspected it the following day, realising the hair was all badly twisted, and no longer looked how I thought it should, into the box it went and stayed until now.

Since then, I have tied countless flies with deer hair. Thanks to Chris, who kindly shared his wisdom, and plenty of practice, I like to think they have improved significantly. They also catch the odd fish, albeit not as big as that first little fly. Although that fly fished so well, I wouldn’t dream of tying a fly on my line now that looked like that. I have far prettier versions to choose from in my boxes now.

Looking at that little fly, I realised how the aesthetics of a fly impact my choices when deciding which fly to fish. It’s always a ‘prettier’ fly that gets the nod or a fly that’s had its good looks replaced by battle scars of success.
I know I care, perhaps that says something about me. But do the fish care? I don’t think they do…