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Tie them in the winter to lose them in the summer: The art of fly tying

The Art of Fly Tying
Posted at 8:41 AM, Dec 23, 2022

HELENA — Fly fishing is really an artform.

Casting, reading the water, even piloting a drift boat are skills that rival anything you might find hanging in an art museum

And the true masterpiece of that collection is something made to be thrown away.

“Let’s put it like this," Cross Currents Fly Shop Manager Jim Stein said with smile. "We tie them in the winter, and we lose them in the summer.”

Tying flies is as old as fly fishing itself – but the practice now is less of a necessity and more of a way to extend your fishing season. And for Stein and Cross Currents in Helena - the attention to detail and patience needed to tie a convincing fly is the perfect addition to the total fishing experience.

“I do tie a lot of my own," said Stein. "It’s just something that I’ve been doing for, oh shoot, I’ve been tying for over 40 years now and the enjoyment of tying is the creative part of it. It’s something, like I said, I’ve been doing for a very long time. And the fun thing about it is you can create a little bit differently, you can do options, you can change it up a little bit from what the original tie was to something that you prefer, or something that seems to work better for you."

Beyond finely tuning your presentation – tying your own fly gives you the chance to have even more of a connection with angling. And an excuse to focus on fly fishing during the dead of winter.

“There is something very satisfying about putting a hook in your vise, adding materials to it, whether it’s fur, or feather or something very natural like that, or maybe synthetic," added Stein. "Taking it to the river, tossing it in and poking a fish. It’s a very satisfying experience.”

If you have any questions or want to get started tying your own flies, check out this story on our website or stop by your local fly shop.