Since the beginning of my life as a professional fly tyer, I have probably been my own best customer. With a borderline paranoia of being caught on the water without the right fly, my personal needs are always given priority at the start of any work session.
In what has become routine over many years, the first two or three flies are designated for my own fly boxes. And until recently, this practice has been a mostly uncomplicated system of restocking flies that are of my own design. With a sizable inventory of tying materials, quickly accessing necessary components for familiar patterns was never a problem. However, this began to change shortly after I joined the Airflo Pro staff about ten years ago.
Meeting and fishing with Gareth Jones was the beginning of the end for a near complete dedication to moving water. And while rivers will always dominate my fishing preference, there has been a progressive shift toward still water that has strengthened with each year that I have attempted to follow my friend’s example on local lakes that previously had been given only minor attention.
As my time on still water began to expand, so too did the demand for flies inspired by Gareth’s concepts. A sizable box containing samples of several dozen of his favorite patterns was a recent gesture of his generous nature and willingness to share. However, I’m not sure he understands how much this thoughtful gift has complicated my life.
Acquiring and working with unfamiliar materials has created more than a little discomfort as I work to fill my fly boxes using tying techniques that are often quite different than my own. And it will probably be years before my still water selections will bring the same comfort as those I carry for moving water.
But in winter when most of my restocking takes place, I reflect with gratitude on the contributions Gareth has made toward a better understanding of the fishing and tying techniques that hold the secrets to finding success on waters that have so much to offer.
In anticipating a new season, I know that the labor now being applied at the vise will be rewarded on a warm summer morning on Hebgen or Sheridan Lake, and again in the fall when the big cuttys and hybrids on Henry’s begin to prowl.
A reunion sometime this year with my friend from Wales would be absolutely welcome. After all, Gareth is largely to blame for the growing distraction of stillwater.