When local Ray Kyle won the Iron Fly in February, he was coming off months of training.
The Iron Fly is to anglers what the Iron Chef is to cooks, where competitors are given a bag of various materials and must create a masterpiece using what they’re given. The secret to Kyle’s success was not unique to fly-fishing, he just stuck to a time-tested adage that guarantees good results no matter the discipline — practice makes perfect.
“Now is the time to tie,” Kyle said on Thursday. “Earlier nights lead to longer evenings, where you can’t go out and fish. From 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. I’m behind the vice, building up my fly box.”
Kyle, 34, is a guide at Fly Fishing Outfitters, where he is known as an administrator at the new school of fly tying, using synthetic materials, flashy colors and UV2 treated products which catch the fish’s eye. Meanwhile, Kyle’s colleague at Fly Fishing Outfitters, Kip Wolcott, has been at it since Kyle was a teenager. Wolcott is from the old school, using as many natural materials as possible.
Their boss, shop owner John Packer, has been sitting back and watching the two schools converge during the past few years.
“The dead bird or dead deer on the side of the road is still the meat and potatoes of tying flies, but there’s so many different synthetic materials now,” Packer said. “Deer hair will trap air inside the fibers of the hairs which is why it floats so well. It’s impossible to replicate — you can’t make synthetic deer or elk hair. But (manufacturers) are learning to treat some of this stuff now with UV2, which the fish can see better.”
‘IN TUNE WITH THE ENTOMOLOGY OF THE RIVER’
Packer says the sport’s recent evolution has inspired him to have his guides host winter clinics for fly tying. They’ll begin next week with classes for both beginners and intermediate to advanced anglers.
“There’s so much new stuff out there, and so many new materials, it just adds a whole new level to what you can do,” he said.
During the Iron Fly, Kyle was given a tampon, a piece of bicycle tire tubing and a used lace from a wading boot.
“There were some really good tyers in the field, and Ray just came in and blew them away,” Packer said. “It kind of makes you realize just how much these young guys are focusing on this and what they’re bringing to the craft.”
Another member of Packer’s staff is a former professional flyfisherman from Holland, Jason Lieverst. Lieverst brought a technique called European nymphing to Packer’s shop, which has flipped the sport on its head while flipping the anger’s hook toward the surface. It’s called a jig hook, and it arrives in the water hook-side up, making it much less likely to snag the river bed.
“The big trend is going toward those jig hooks, for all of your nymphs,” Packer said. “People are tying traditional patterns, that have been used on regular hooks, and now tying them on a jig hook with a bead head.”
Heavy jargon like the terms tossed around Packer’s shop will all be defined and made understandable through his beginner classes.
“As tyers, you really start learning the names of the flies, and you start learning what fly is associated with what hatch is going on,” Kyle said.
“It gets you more in tune with the entomology of the river,” Wolcott added.
New technology and materials will be the stuff of the advanced classes.
“The way this sport is going, we all have things we can learn and practice to improve our skills,” Packer said. “It’s $100 for three classes, and you’ll get a complete tool assortment and some materials to take home with you.”
Beginner classes will be held Mondays starting Nov. 16. Intermediate and advanced classes will be held Wednesdays starting Dec. 2.