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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Fly tying.

The pleasures and challenges of fly tying 2.

The first thing you need to start tying flies is a fly tying vice. For centuries though, fly tiers used to hold the hook between the thumb and index finger of the left hand, for right handed tiers, and thumb and index finger of the right hand for left handers.  Just try doing it ,I have, all I can say is impossible, yet past fly tiers thought nothing of it. Below is an illustration of tying a fly by holding between the thumb and index finger.

Colour plate from "Rod Fishing in Clear Waters." (London 1860) This book gives detailed description of how to tie a fly while holding the hook between your thumb and forefinger.

Charles Cottons decription of tying a fly by hand is give in his contribution to Izaak Waltons The Compleat Angler, "Being Directions how to Angle for Trout and Grayling in a Clear Stream" Written in 1674, and published with Walton's revised The Compleat Angler 5th edition, in 1676. p308.
Pisc. This will not be long in doing: and pray observe then. You see how first I hold my hook, and thus I begin. Look you, here are my first two or three whips about the bare hook: thus I join the hook and the line; thus I put on my wings; thus I twirl and lap on my dubbing; thus I work it up to the head; thus I part my wings; thus I nip my superflous dubbing from my silk: thus fasten; thus trim and adjust my fly; and there's my fly made; and now how do you like it?  

Cotton certainly made it seem easy.

James Ogden , writing in 1879, comments that in the 1850’s tying vice were scarce but by 1879 were becoming quite common. The illustration below is of James Ogden’s improved fly vice.

Frederic M Halford in his book “Floating Flies and How to Dress Them,” published in 1886, recommended the use of a fly tying vice. I haven’t been able to find an illustration of the Halford tying vice.

The vice I use now is the first one I bought about six years ago, cheap, very cheap, but it works. The vice holds up to size 20 hooks with ease, and for large sizes up to about a size 6. Comes in a neat wooden case and is very portable.

Pages in the background are from Izaak Walton's "The Compleat Angler" 5th, edition, 1676, reprinted 1897.

The vice below is the vice I use for tying large flies.  It looks impressive but not a very good vice.
(Cat the cat can be seen sitting under the table)

The vice below is more of an ornament, paperweight on some executives desk to remind him what his missing by chasing filthy lucre!

It has a minute whip finishers, scisors, bobbin and hair stacker. The hair stacker is actually very useful.

My dream vice is the J Vice, handmade in South Africa. As you can see, impressive, and as prices go for a work of art, not bad. Click on the link, really worth a look. Hope Santa Claus reads this post.


Ogden's improved fly tying vice; Wikipedia

Colour plate on hand tying flies: Wikipedia



Jo said...

Your work area looks as tranquil as the dam in the post before. I simply love Cat at your feet. Love and blessings, Jo

e.m.b. said...

Lovely...and that vise and wood box definitely have some stories to tell...