Tying with Austin - DuPage Fly Fishing Co.

With the first weekend of Wisconsin Early Season in the books, if anyone's like me, reflecting on the success of different patterns from the first two days of fishing is consuming a lot of their time.  Mentally working my way through fly changes, nymphs to streamers to dries to midges.  It's all about what was successful to give us a starting point for next weekend.  

Making mental notes helps me set up a plan for future nights of tying and how I want to fill my boxes for the season.  Throughout the winter I'll fill larger Plano boxes with the standards for the Driftless and Midwest, but during the season, typically fresh ties go right in the fly box, or at the least a friend's box.  So once I have a feeling for what was successful, I'll whip up a few dozen of a few different patterns in different sizes and fill any gaps or add new rows to my fly boxes.  

Depending on the night I'm tying, I'll both by myself, or with a buddy or group of buddies.  Getting together to tie and knock back a few adult beverages is a great way to learn new things, meet new people and fully embrace the fly fishing community.  Locally here in the Chicagoland area there's more than a handful of places to meet up and organized groups that meet anywhere from weekly, to monthly or quarterly.  Locations include fly shops, bars, community colleges and anywhere else BYOB works.  

For those just getting in to tying and looking to learn patterns that help make local guides successful, there's tying classes through Coren's, DuPage Fly Fishing, and Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters.  They offer classes throughout the year and feature patterns targeting all different kinds of species and fisheries.  

I recently had the chance to head up to DuPage Fly Fishing and hang out with the guys when Capt Austin Adduci was there doing a tying class for warm water species here in the Midwest.  

If you're looking to join a group or learn more about tying, check out the links below and don't hesitate to drop us an email if you have any questions.  And keep your eyes peeled for an Introduction to Fly Tying class coming up at Coren's this Spring.  

Upcoming DuPage Fly Fishing Tying Events: these are open tying events from 1pm to 4pm with presentations to follow.  These are great times to learn and get to know some outstanding guides.  

  • March 14th - Grab Your Fly Charters Captain, Austin Adduci
  • March 29th - Anglin Outdoors, Guide Jay Anglin
  • Free open tying nights on March 12th and April 9th.  

Upcoming ChiFly Tying Events: too numerous to list!  From upcoming classes to special presentations, give them a look and be sure to swing by!

Also Thursday night Eric keeps Coren's Rod and Reel open a bit late and there's a group that Stuart leads.  It's organized, with an email list that includes the patterns that will be tied.  It's a free group, with some phenomenal tyers, some beginners and some great personalities.  

If you're located in the city, head on over to Chi-Tie and hang out with the boys over at Galway Bay in Chicago.  Stuart and I are hoping to get out to one of their next gatherings.  Stuart and Eric have ventured out there and said it's a great group of guys, low key with the ability to tie whatever you fancy.  They next meet March 9th around 6:30pm.  

The Group

Fly tying requires what some refer to as "essential skills," and so I'm wondering, while working on a program to teach a beginning fly tying class, what skills are essential and can be taught in two, two hour classes?

The group at Corens Rod and Reel continues to grow and with that growth we now have tiers with a range of skills and there is a concern: how to help the beginners but challenge the more advanced tiers. This is a problem for all fly tying groups, whether they are tightly structured or a loosely knit band of feather wrappers.

This problem generated the idea of a class to accelerate the skill sets of beginners as well as teach fly tying to a novice. (It was that or putting in a wet bar for the advanced tiers.)

So I made a list based on observation, reading, and a number of years working with different groups and teaching a number of fly tying classes. Which was then filtered between Eric's twenty years plus of running a shop and working with beginners and my twenty years plus of tech writing. And so we decided to start up a fly tying class for beginners and/or novices.  

But not just a, "here's a woolly bugger and how to tie it," type of class. Instead it will focus on skill sets, i.e., setting up your vise, putting a hook in the jaws correctly, how to lay down a thread base, do a pinch, wrap different materials on a hook, proportions, how to do a soft loop, how to read a recipe and so on. I don't know as of yet what we will call the class, however I am certain between Eric and I that we can come up with a pithy title. And we have, Basic Skills for Beginners.

The class will be limited to six, run two Saturdays, and each session be two hours long. Cost will be fifty dollars, tools and vises will be available and all materials will be provided. In other words, all you have to do is show up.

At the end of the class, the goal is to put a recipe on the table, all the materials necessary to tie that pattern, an example of the fly and armed with their new skills, the beginner should be able to tie that fly with confidence.

Eric and I have confirmed the two dates: March 14th and March 21st starting at 9:00 am at Corens and running till 11:00.

If time allows, I will assemble a notebook, complete with photos and drawings and once it's been proofed, tested and refined, I'll post it. Of course if it's an abysmal failure...

But as a philosopher once said, "...anything worth doing is worth doing badly."

I have accumulated ideas from a number of notables, including Jay "Fishy" Fullum, Lefty Kreh, and others that I've met over the years. Add to that a collection of fly tying books from which I've stolen as many ideas as I can.

So now it's time for the shameless self-promotion part of this. If you know someone who is interested in learning to tie a fly but isn't sure whether they want to invest in tools, this is the perfect opportunity for them to see if they like tying before they spend any money getting started.  

Then of course, when they come to a Thursday night at Coren's, or to any tying group, or watch a You-Tube video, they'll be able to wrap feathers on a hook with the best of them.

At least my hope is that they will.

Here is the information: 
Basic Skills for Beginning Fly Tying
Location: Coren’s Rod and Reel
6001 N Nina Ave, Chicago, IL 60631
Phone: (773) 631-5202
Email: eric@corensrodreel.com
Dates: March 14th and 21st
Times: 9:00 – 11:00
Cost: $50

I hope to see you there!


Bar Flies at Chi-tie

Most tying groups meet in churches, in a meeting room in a store, or someone’s home or even at colleges. Personally, I always thought it would be best if we could meet in a bar. Good company, beer, tying and food with a never ending jukebox and darts in the background.

Welcome to Chi-tie!

Eric Heckman, from Coren's, who has tied with the group before asked me to venture along with him on Monday night. The group meets the second Monday of the month, starting at 6:30 and they’re currently at Galway Bay Bar.

The February gathering was the largest they’ve ever had. Which is good for the group and good for the bar. I had a chance to catch up with a buddy, Adam Marton, who works with the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, and heads up AM Film Productions. As good a guy as you’d ever want to fish with. And he has a really nice fly tying box that I’ve threatened to steal a number of times. Also there was Nikki, who manages the downtown Orvis Store, and a number of people whose names I’ve simply forgotten and apologize for. Except for Dave, who is the ringleader of sorts of this diverse tying group.

So here’s what you need to know. This is a tying group, that is, you bring your stuff and you sit and tie and you chat and drink beer and socialize and tie some more. You talk about patterns, you talk about materials and you talk about fishing. (And drink beer.) There’s no demonstrations, no videos, and no guy saying, “Well you see, I’m the president of the group and so on…” This is tiers getting together to tie.

So last night, Adam tied a floating crab with deerhair, Dave tied a nifty baitfish pattern, there was a foam frog, a pink clouser, a bugger type fly with a barred rabbit tail, I tied streamers, Eric tied a  chickabou crayfish pattern and there were nymphs and so on being tied.

If you plan to go, and you should, a couple of suggestions.

Know what you want to tie and just bring those materials. The tables are bar tables and so room is a premium. If you have a light for your vise, you might want to bring it. This is a bar not a well lit room, although it’s adequate, some supplemental lighting would be helpful. If you drop something on the floor…forget it unless it’s big and shiny. It’s a bar floor and dark. Tip the bartender, he’s the one who lets you tie there. Thank Chi-tie for putting this together.

Also, parking isn’t easy in the city. If you can car pool or take public transportation, do so.

As always, you’ll meet nice people, if you walk around and chat with other tiers you’ll earn some new things. You’ll find sources of new and interesting materials and as always, discover that fly tying, while it has its traditions, isn’t stuck in the past. The people you’ll meet at a Chi-tie session aren’t tying your daddy’s dry flies.

So here’s to beer and fellowship and a toast to Chi-tie!

See you in a month.

Blog address: http://chi-tie.blogspot.com/

Meeting: 6:30 start time on the Second Monday of the month.
Location is: 
Galway Bay bar
500 W Diversey Ave, Chicago, IL 60657