Five years ago I asked Eric Heckman of Corens Rod and Reel if he’d like to host a tying group at his shop. Of course I don’t know if Eric knew what he was saying yes to, or maybe he did. I sure as hell didn’t.
So we made some rules: No elections, dues or officers. No watching. We do allow beer.
The format was simple, there’d be a leader who’d select the patterns, materials would be handed out and everyone would follow the leader to tie the patterns. No video camera, no long winded explanations, everyone ties. We’d tie two flies of every pattern, three patterns if we had enough time. We’d meet every Thursday and take up a collection/donation once or twice a month depending upon how much came off the walls. The two fly rule came about because few people tie a good first fly.
Five years later the rules are still the same. No watching allowed, you come to watch and we put a vise and materials in front of you. We still drink beer.
In the beginning there were three members. Now we have thirty on the mailing list. We have members who live in Alaska in the summer, one who lives in Montana, and ages ranging from 13 to retired.
So are tying groups any good? Sure they are. Just in our area there is Chicago Fly Fishers, DRIFT, NIFTY and ISA’s Bass Buggers.
We’re a bit different in our focus, but in any group, you meet new people, you learn all kinds of things, some useful, some not, but you wind up with flies you’ve tied. Some of which you fish with. Your skills improve and best of all, you don’t have to be an expert to join the group. Beginners are always welcome and appreciated, but if you’re thin skinned, just so you know, we do make fun of each other. So if you’re extra sensitive, let us know, we’ll only kid you a bit.
So what do we tie? In a year we’ll tie everything from deer hair flies, in our group is Cory Gale, an expert at spinning, stacking and whacking deer hair. We’ll have guides come and tie with us, Austin Adduci of Grab Your Fly Charters tied with us Craig Riendeau who’s had several articles published in Fly Tyer magazine has tied with us and members of the club have sat in the leader chair and wrapped feathers on a hook.
So in a year, we’ll tie about 40-45 weeks, or about 180+ flies. We work at keeping the flies varied and to challenge tying skills. We also try to keep things seasonal: steelhead and trout during the season, bass and bluegill flies and then some Pike flies just to keep things going. And carp, yes we occasionally tie carp flies for which there is no season.
If you’re looking for a place to tie, the group meets at Corens on Thursday nights: Official start time is 6:30 but I’m often there early. So we have a bonus fly that we tie when three or more are gathered with vises. We end about 8:30. We usually have enough beer to go around and enough stories to keep you entertained, but the rule, no watching allowed, is strictly enforced. If you don’t have a vise and tools, we have loaners. You don’t have to buy anything, but you do have to tie. It’s a rule.
Corens Rod and Reel Service:
6001 N. Nina Ave. Chicago, IL 60631