Hooray For The Holidays by Jason Akl
Undoubtedly there are better seasons out of the year to be an avid fly tyer than others. Not many people enjoy sitting at the vice, sweating away a day in search of the perfect caddis pattern during those hot summer months. Most would rather be out enjoying the beautiful landscapes covered with overgrown thimbleberry just starting to ripen or listening to bird chatter over the soft trickle of a spring fed creek. Nonetheless, one should not just pack up his materials and take down the vice for 4 months until winter arrives, then try in haste to restock his or her patterns in anticipation of the coming season. With the changing of the seasons comes many different holidays and to the mindful fly tyer, every holiday has something a little extra to offer.
I give for your consideration Christmas. Sure we all know that this is a very wonderful time of year, but to the ever-observant fly tier it can be a haven for new materials. Tinsels pop up in red, green and blue, and are selling for prices you would never see at your local fly shops. Chenille, yarns, red/green markers and sparkle braids are in every store, it is almost impossible to pass up.
Another great example would be Easter. I was over at a friend’s house helping set up his children’s morning Easter celebration when I came across yet another unheard of material, called Easter grass. It simply is a light green colored plastic cut into thin strips used to soften Easter baskets. After the egg hunt had ended I took a sample of the grass home for a test trial. I tried a few different patterns being skeptical at first to the quality of the material, to my surprise I found that the Easter grass worked great for scud shell backs and minnow bodies. Needless to say I went and purchased my own bag of Easter grass for a mere 99 cents, and I do not think in my lifetime of fly tying that I will be able to use ½ of it.
If you are still not convinced that the holidays should be looked at more carefully, let’s take Halloween. This is one of my favorites, it seems like this holiday more than the others is closely associated with arts and crafts, maybe because of children making their own costumes and people decorating their houses. Last Halloween I ventured out in search of new materials and came across many fine items. In particular one sale at a store boasted the 10 items you need for scarecrow making. In this rummage bin I found black, brown and orange fun foam, which is great stuff for making high floating shellbacks or bodies. I also found two bucktails died orange and brown that can be used for minnow patterns like the thirteenth lake. Last, but not least, I came across small portions of plastic black raffia along with various sized orange and black beads that are always good for tying up stonefly nymphs. Best of all, the items in this bin were being sold for $1.00 a piece; where else can you find prices like that.
Think of all the other holidays that correspond with the different seasons, and the colors and materials associated with each. I am certain that if you keep you eyes open you will stumble across many new and useful materials that will be selling for 1/2 the price of name brand products. Hey, why not get involved in the atmosphere of the holidays a little more. What is the worst that can happen, other than drinking too much eggnog?
Christmas Epoxy Minnow
Hook: Mustad Size 4 Thread: Green 6/0
Body: 5-Minute Epoxy
Tail: Green Marabou
Eyes: Stick-on Holographic Eyes
Underbody: Christmas Silver Braid
Coloring: Red/ Green Christmas Markers
Easter Grass Scud
Hook: Mustad Scud Size 12-16
Thread: Brown 6/0
Body: White Rabbit Dubbing
Rib: Copper Wire
Shellback: Easter Grass
Weight: 5-7 Turns Lead (Optional)
Head: Brown Hare’s Ear Dubbing
Tail: Badger Guard Hairs
Hook: Mustad Size 4 (Limerick Bend)
Wing: Halloween Orange/ Brown Bucktail
Thread: Black 6/0
Tail: Golden Pheasant Fibers
Body: Halloween Flat Orange Thread
Rib: Christmas Tinsel
Hook: Mustad Scud Size 14
Thread: Black 8/0
Head: Black Deer Hair
Legs: White Elastic Strips
Wing: Natural Deer Hair Extended
Body: Halloween Orange/Black Foam