There's a marvelous feeling in life, the feeling when you have done something right. When you can step back from something you have created, done, or finished and feel a good sense of pride in your work. Not pride that is arrogant and puts others down, but pride that encourages your heart. When your kid hits a home run, when you get that phone call from your boss about that raise, or when you make an scrumptous meal.
Starting out fly-tying, I did not have that feeling. When I first started creating flies, I would complete a fly and just not feel good about it - it never looked like the photo I saw or what I had envisioned in my mind.
Frustration would take over and quickly anger would spill over into my actions. My thread would snap every ten seconds, the hackle would pop off the fly, I would spill head cement all over my pants, or super glue all down my leg, which is an incredibly painful experience... Frustration would pile on frustration and soon I would stomp off and vow never to pick up that stupid bobbin again. Of course, I would always return shortly thereafter in hopes things would somehow be different. The Mt. Everest of mess on my desk would only further my frustration. "Where are my scissors?" "Where is my thread?" "Where did my vice go?" All this frustration would flood over into my tying.
Now, being messy doesn't mean you can't tie excellent flies. After all, my tying room now, and many others I have heard of, looks like a bunny and a chicken got into a fight then somehow both exploded.
Anyways, I remember the first time I finished a fly and thought, "I got it right..."
Shock and joy made their appearance, but joy was soon beaten down by disbelief. Disbelief threw his hands in the air victorious and made me panic - I didn't want to take the fly off the vise because I just knew the other side of that fly would be as jacked up as Harvey Dent's face.
I pulled the little fly out slowly and plopped the fly into my left hand. I flipped it over and opened my eyes. In a moment of complete shock I realized it was exactly like the other side! Magically, both sides were perfect to my little eyes! In that moment, joy got back up from his last beat down and overwhelmed me! How peculiar it is that something that small and insignificant had a lasting impact on me. It was my bite of encouragement that reminded me this whole fly-tying thing was not impossible! Normal people, and even kids, could do this!
Before that moment I thought only "other" people could actually tie small beautiful creations that fooled brilliant trout, but after I got it right I realized it was very possible, even likely, that I could catch something with this little fellow.
The friendship was immediate. My fly and I would be inseparable. I would put him in the best location of my box, highly visible, so the world could see.
Little moments like this helped fuel my passion and helped me continue on in fly-tying. Getting one little fly right was a game-changer. In a world of confusing words like emerger, dun, and hackle, weird concepts like fly line weights and differing line grains, and endless possibilities of fly design and materials, stepping back and focusing in on one element and getting it right is a needed dose of encouragement it takes to keep pushing on in this fly fishing world.
You might wonder what highly complex fly this was that instilled such hope into a little lad... It was a Zebra Midge.