MY FASCINATION WITH TYING FLIES started in 1996 when I took my first tying lesson at Turner’s Fly Shop. The biggest reason I wanted to learn how to tie… I needed to have patterns that worked for our local beaches which are totally different than anywhere else.
I had been chasing coho for 10 years or so and gaining more knowledge on the food sources available in our local salt water. In 1998 I took an additional interest in chasing winter steelhead as I didn’t want to stop fishing during the winter season. It was then that I started tying steelhead patterns which required a different skill level than the my 2 to 3 step beach flies.
My regular visits to Ruddick’s Fly Shop became more by the week and I drove everybody crazy with million questions. “All you need to tie are a Popsicle, a Polar Shrimp and, then of course, a General Practitioner,” said Malcolm Ruddick. I bought every material there was in order to tie these flies and tried to learn from books and pictures ~ no YouTube back then ~ as much as I could. I discovered the beauty in the art of tying steelhead flies, and that you tie for yourself and not the fish.
In the spring of of 1999 I went to the Vedder River with a limited knowledge of steelhead fly fishing and caught 3 steelhead in one day on my single-hand Sage 896 XP and a type 6 sink tip. A simple set up and flies.
By 2002 double-handed spey fishing was gaining popularity in a much faster speed since it was introduced to us a few decades ago. With this, Ed Ward, a guide on the Skagit River in Washington introduced us to the ever popular Intruder fly which was designed to sink fast on his local waters. It was big and heavy, and there was a lot of thought behind the engineering of this fly… instead of tying this fly on a single hook, a trailer hook was added. Since then a lot of the traditional patterns were pushed to the side with a only a small group of fly fishers still fishing the old school patterns. They all work as the fish don’t care, yet there is something to be said about tying the traditional patterns and fishing them so next time you sit at your tying bench, try tying a Popsicle in various colours, a Polar Shrimp, a Squamish Poacher by Joe Kambeitz and the most famous BC pattern, General Money’s General Practitioner.
When you hook a steelhead on one of these flies you will contribute a little bit of history to the traditional flies which have been fished by General Money, Roderick Haig-Brown, Art Lingren, Bob Taylor and many others.