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A question of beauty

Where does the beauty in a fly lie?
Tying a not-so-classic pattern by headlamp at night (photo: T.J. Orton).

For a couple seasons now, one of my fly shop co-workers, Bucky McCormick, has gone retrograde with his flies. He’s been tying and fishing classic patterns. By classic I mean older flies with some degree of historical significance, like the Quill Gordon, Brown Bivisible and Black-Nose Dace. Patterns that practically nobody fishes these days—if they’ve even heard of them at all—especially out here in Montana. (Last time I used one myself was in the early 1980s, gulper fishing on Hebgen Lake.

Y'all want fried bread with that?

Fly fishers are a small and transient band
Photo: Matt Reilly | Illustration: Andrea Larko

Fly fishing, as I have come to know it, is a sport defined by local flavor and knowledge; its micro-cultures and idiosyncrasies strongly tied to elements of place. The fly fishing community as a whole, sortof likewise, is a small and transient band.

Photo: L.L. Bean

I tie flies at my dining room table. Or with my vice precariously balanced on the plastic storage shelves in my basement, a section of which houses the bulky cardboard box where my vice—and a respectable smattering of tying supplies—lives for around 363 days of each year. Among my many shameful inadequacies as an angler, predominant above all is my lack of dedication to tying.

Burning down the house

It's on fire, better grab a bucket
Photo: U.S. DOI

Back when I was working as a fly fishing guide in Montana and Idaho, I spent every spare moment fishing. While that may seem like an odd choice to some folks, it made perfect sense to me. Guiding and fishing are two very different things, and while I enjoyed my guiding, I’ve always loved my fishing more.

4 more things all anglers should be thankful for

Where should we focus our gratitude in 2017?
Fat brown trout that swim off with vigor—something to be thankful for (photo: Chad Shmukler).

Back in 2014, we celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday as so many outlets do, by talking about what we should be thankful for. Generally, doing so is little more than an opportunity to state the obvious or share trite sentiments that are more an exercise of convention and repetition than an expression of gratitude based on thoughtful reflection. But we did our best not to mail it in and, in the process, shined a light on a few things we thought all anglers should take the time to acknowledge.

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