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The Dedicated World of the Fly-Tier
Sparse Grey Hackle
August 31, 1959
Artificial lures are easy to make, but once the bug hits you, you are real gone
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August 31, 1959

The Dedicated World Of The Fly-tier

Artificial lures are easy to make, but once the bug hits you, you are real gone

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In case you have never raised roosters, know that there are other complications too. Good feathers come from cocks with a game strain, and if you don't keep each one in a separate pen they'll fight to the death. You can't even let them see each other; they'd kill themselves trying to fight their way through the wire to get at the opposition. You have to be fond of music, too. When I stay overnight at the Darbees (Harry and Elsie are the best pro tiers in the world, for my money), I get a rooster serenade that begins at 12:30 a.m. and runs right through sunrise.

However, there are a few really gone fly-tiers who raise hackles. You can get some from them with a revolver and a blackjack.

That's a possibility, too, for a true fly-tier is quite fanatical. For some years during and after the last war a chap named Harlan Maynard taught fly tying to disabled veterans at Hal-loran General Hospital. This hard-fisted, hard-faced, hard-talking and soft-hearted Maine man had a magnetic personality, and his classes tied with a fanatical fervor which persisted after they had been discharged and sent home. He once showed me letters from two of his grateful graduates, the following extracts from which illustrate my point.

Wrote one: "I am back to tying. I want to get a dozen of each size of 20 patterns in time for the opening of the trout season. My wife gave birth to a boy yesterday, 9 pounds. I have picked up a very promising pointer pup and am training him, but most of the time I tie flies...."

Wrote the other: "I sure miss the class and wish I were back tying with you. I am getting tools and materials to start again. My wife went out for the evening three days ago and hasn't come back yet. Wait till she gets home. How are all the fellows in the class? I have found a place with some good blue necks, and the price is right too...."

But I think the most in fly-tiers was the chap who came into the smoking compartment of a Pullman sleeper one night when the late Walter Sill of the Anglers' Club of New York was tying salmon flies to pass the time; he had a portable tying kit. "Thunder and Lightning!" said the young man, which was not an exclamation but the name of the salmon fly Walter was tying. He sat down to talk, and in half an hour the porter came in.

"Your wife sent me to see where you were, suh," he said.

"Tell her I'll be right back," said the young man. Half an hour later, while they were taking turns at the tying vise, the porter returned. He addressed our young man again.

"Your wife says to come back, suh," he said.

"Right away," said the young man, waxing another piece of thread and never looking up.

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