The greatest artists utilize every brush stroke to ensure that every time they touch their masterpiece a purpose lies behind their movement. They create paintings that look almost lifelike because they have mastered the basics and now allow no room for sloppy, careless mistakes, and when a mistake occurs part of their learning has been to incorporate the mistake seamlessly into the masterpiece.
If a careless artist filled his "masterpiece" with sloppy strokes and half-hearted swipes the beauty that could be fades. Masterpieces don't happen on accident. Perfect flies don't happen on accident either. If you're not after perfect flies, but just "okay" quality that catch fish - that's cool. However, good flies can be made even better with just one simple mindset:
Every Wrap Counts.
Every time your thread lays down on the hook make sure there's a purpose behind it. I find myself questioning every time I put thread down - "Did I have to do that?" Clearly, that can be a nagging thought to always have running through your brain, but it does prove helpful. You eventually realize that every time you wrap thread around the hook it matters.
This is incredibly helpful on both small and slim patterns such as spinners or midges, and learning and practicing every wrap counts also helps on giant musky size flies!
Why? Well, in learning and applying every wrap counts there are three benefits I see:
1) Cuts down the time it makes to tie the fly. Most people want less time tying and more time fishing. So when it comes to how much time we are putting into particular patterns... don't worry about putting 30 wraps down on a piece of flash or hackle if it only requires 5 to secure it properly. Every wrap counts teaches us how to apply the minimal amount of wrappings to securely attach a material.
*Warning* Never sacrifice quality for time! Quality always trumps time. After all, if you can tie a parachute Adams in 2 minutes, but it falls apart after 2 fish you have to go behind the vise again for another Adams! Which means more time behind the vice. In the long run quality always beats whipping out flies as fast as possible.
However, if it makes no difference if I wrap over a material 6 times or 600 times it only makes sense to do 6 wraps, right? Time saved by getting it right the first time = more time fishing, or tying more patterns, and less broken/ mangled flies.
2) Creates a deeper understanding of the material you are using. The better you understand your materials the more efficiently you can use them, and the better your flies will be. Ask yourself, How many wraps does it take to secure a classic pheasant tail's tail? How many wraps does it take to put on a parachute post? How many wraps does it take to seat deer hair in a bass popper? You won't know until you try it right?
3) Creates better looking flies. It's absolutely true that we want to fish with flies that look good. And if you ask any nearly any fly tier if they would like to make their flies more attractive to the human eye they would (probably) all say yes - so utilize this technique - every wrap matters! This will effect how you finish each fly, how the wings are separated, how neat your buck tail is tied in, if the turkey biot will wrap naturally like an actual insect. Really everything is effected with this mindset!
One of the reasons why this mindset helps is we learn to correct mistakes.
Correcting Mistakes. Let me share two truths, every wrap counts and everyone makes mistakes. Because everyone makes mistakes, learning to correct mistakes is a game changer. If you make a tail crooked and you can undue it just by removing the thread wrap you just made - do it! If you can hide all of that buck tail by adding a few more wraps - do it! If you pinch down your hackle with the thread- fix it! Do the fish care? Probably not, but if you never pick that fly out of your box because it looks like belly button lint poorly attached to a hook you've wasted your time!
Always correct mistakes. It's a lot more efficient to just undue the wrap and spend the time getting it just right rather than breezing past the glaring problem.
Everyone makes mistakes, but what separates the okay from the great often comes down to who corrects their mistakes and who takes their time to do it right the first time? Start out making each fly as best as you can. Utilize every wrap that you make and think about what you are doing. When you screw up - fix it. It seems contradictory to say - you will save time by spending more time, however, that's exactly right here. You won't be cranking out 40 flies per hour maybe only 4, but you will be able to use those flies longer, and eventually you will know your pattern so well you might be able to get 10 or 20 per hour. And they will be ones your not afraid to show the world.
Next time you find yourself behind the vise remember this, every wrap counts.