Bob Boese, Louisiana

March 23rd, 2009

The Fly Tying Cat
By Bob Boese, Louisiana

Boudreaux absolutely hated Clotille's scruffy Tom cat. Finally he decided to get rid of the beast and drove him five miles down logging roads in the swamp and left him, then went fishing. As Boudreaux arrived home, the cat was sitting on the porch. The next day Boudreaux decided to drive the cat farther away. Once again, he put the cat out and went fishing. When he got home, there was the cat. He kept taking the cat farther and farther, and the cat would always be waiting at home. Finally, Boudreaux decided to drive as deep into the swamp as he had ever been, until he reached what he thought had to be far enough, and left the cat there.

Hours later, Boudreaux, called home. "Clotille, is the cat at home?"

"Yes", she answered, "why do you ask?"

Frustrated, Boudreaux answered, "Put the little bastard on the phone, I'm lost and need directions."

I am not a cat person. For strange masochistic reasons, cat people prefer an indifferent, arrogant, self-indulgent feline to a friendly, affectionate, subservient dog. Why, I will never know ƒI am not one of them. But fly fishing can create relationships between the most estranged characters.

As I type, an orange ball of fluff is laying with his head over the function keys of my computer keyboard. Inherited from my recently-home-from-college daughter, this pet splits his time outdoors being king of the yard, terrorizing birds, mice and lizards, and indoors sharing space with me at the computer or fly tying table. And therein lies the tale. The cat, Yogi, is a critic of the cruelest sort.

My fly desk is occasionally, though infrequently, organized and clean. Usually it is strewn with loose fur and feathers and the latest creations out of the vice. I tie by mood and may fill a magnetic tray with microscopic nymphs one day and great feathery salt water offerings the next. Materials suppliers know me for a easy mark and, be it hackle or bucktail, thread or floss, a collection of one or more of every color imaginable is the norm rather than the exception, On cloudy days the sun must be depressed for it is accustomed to grace my desk with each rise, to indulge its light in the full spectrum available there.

Since his arrival, Yogi has surveyed our home's exterior landscape and is particularly fond of dense liriope, crouching amongst the thick green umbrella to pounce on unfortunate chickadees and chameleons. With pride he will regularly deliver a small ravaged clump of brown and white feathers to the door, fully expecting them to appear on a woolly bugger or soft hackle. Later, among the inanimate collection at my desk, he will bat at necks and tails of chartreuse and yellow, daring them to respond. He ignores olive and black as dullards not worth wasted effort.

He watches and I tie. As each new fly is released from the jaws, it is the cat who serves as product inspector, the final judge.

Yogi is a big game cat. Anything smaller than #6 is of absolutely no interest. He eats things that eat bugs smaller than a #6. Consequently, during my nymph tying cycle, he spends most of the time sunning next to the tool rack. But, when it comes to large feathers and animal hair or foam, he possesses the eye of the tiger. Remnants of a once distinguished and expensive furnace colored neck rest in a plastic bag tacked to cork board, a wall mount of Yogi's latest kill. Left unattended, the neck spent its final moments resting in the fan breeze, waggling enticingly. Yogi has no patience with waggling furnace. It is, after all, not chartreuse. A skein of black krystal flash is irreparably knotted from a similar act of final judgment.

And then there is super glue. The cat thinks of it as paint. I have as yet not perfected the "cat fur minnow" but I am nearly there with the "paw print deceiver" and the "claw mark clouser". Loud complaints occasionally announce that Yogi is dragging around tying gear, to which he is firmly adhered.

My current focus is denizens of the Florida Keys. Yogi approves. Tying for this trip requires large patterns of feathers and flash, which dangle from the vise tempting fate. A chartreuse and white bucktail-filled marabou streamer was most recently subjected to extensive examination with tooth and claw, and set new distance records for fly-batted-across-the-room. Yogi certified the fly baracuda-proof.

My dog hates cats. My dog loves rooting in my hackle trunk. My dog tolerates Yogi because I think the cat helps her open the trunk. Coming home I frequently find bits strewn about, the dog looking sorrowful and the cat looking like I dare not accuse him. Not long ago I arrived back to find a #1 Whiting dry fly hackle made into confetti. I could have strangled them both. Then the dog licked my hand and rolled on her back to be rubbed. Yogi came and put his head on my keyboard.

Whatcha gonna do?

~ Bob

About Bob:

Robert Lamar Boese has fly fished for five decades. He is an environmental negotiator, attorney and educator who has provided environmental legal services for more than thirty-three years including active duty with the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Justice. He is a well known fly tyer with several unique patterns to his credit. He has developed and authored federal and state regulatory programs encompassing a broad spectrum of environmental disciplines, has litigated environmental matters at all levels of the federal and state court systems, and is a qualified expert for testimony in environmental law. He has authored over 60 published text chapters, comments or articles on environmental matters, is a member of the Colorado, District of Columbia and Louisiana Bar Associations, and is a certified mediator. In addition to his legal practice, Mr. Boese has been a high school teacher, an associate professor of Environmental Law and Public Health, has authored numerous fiction and sports publications, and is a softball coach and nationally certified volleyball referee. He is the president of the Acadiana Fly Rodders in Lafayette, Louisiana and editor of Acadiana on the Fly. He has been married for thirty years and is the father of two fly fishing girls (25 and 21). For additional information contact: Boese Environmental Law, 103 Riviera Court, Broussard, LA 70518 or call 337.856.7890 or email

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