It’s been awhile since the box came out of the storage room—months, actually. I can tell the last batch of flies I tied was destined for Alaska, given the pink, white and orange marabou situated atop the pile. The box looked like a creamsicle.
A fuzzy, hairy creamsicle.
I’m not sure what inspired me to tie flies this day, but something tugged at me to pull the box out and start a project. Maybe it was the snow outside, that festive pre-Christmas slush pushed across the Snake River Plain by an honest-to-God winter solstice thunderstorm (yes, Virginia, Santa’s going to be a little soggy this year, but whatever you do, don’t mention climate change—that shit ain’t real, you know). Maybe it was the kids, all hunkered down with their gadgets in sort of an Internet-driven hibernation stupor. School’s out for the holidays, and their brains are occupied by gigabytes.
No, I wanted to tie. I wanted to do something with my hands. The weekend old-school Mario Kart tournament was a disaster, and I needed some redemption.
“No, son, I can’t outrace you at Peach Gardens, but let’s see how well you do with a size 22 Zebra midge. Yeah. That’s what I thought.”
Size 22. Why start there? I need a “warm-up fly.” Something bigger. Something with substance.
Might as well make it useful, too, right? Something I need.
What’s on the schedule?
Mexico, in February. Bonefish flies. Nothing too big, but it has to be better to start with a size 6 saltwater hook rather than the tiny trout hook that, in the span of a year, has become almost invisible to 46-year-old eyes. Something easy, too. A Pink Puff. Maybe half a dozen of them to start. Those brain-dead bones on the flats of Ascension Bay don’t stand a chance.
Saskatchewan in June. Pike. Big ones. Head-shakers that eat damn near anything you put in front of them. This is where you just make shit up. A little black saddle. A couple of grizzly hackle strands. Something shiny. Oh, hell yeah. That’s gonna work. You just watch. Six months from now, this thing is going to be lodged in the mouth of a toothy behemoth.
British Columbia in July en route to the Yukon. Yes, the God-damned Yukon. I can’t wait. Fat cutthroats and bull trout in B.C. Graying in the Yukon. More pike, probably.
Then, from Whitehorse to Haines Junction and into Alaska, where this all started. Pink. Orange. Some tinsel. This thing is going to pulse in the current of some rainforest salmon stream, and a bullish Dolly Varden with a bad attitude is going to turn it into a hairball.
More pink. Yes. Always more pink.
Forget the midge. I can’t see the damn thing anyway.