August 21st, 2000

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Gold Metal Flies

By Bob Fairchild, Anchorage Alaska, USA

As the Olympics rapidly approach, I think back four years to the last one. I love the Olympics . . . some sports that you don't get to see a lot, some that you do, flag waving is politically correct and it's just a "fun" atmosphere.

So how does all this relate to fly fishing? Are there casting and tying competitions?? No. (Not yet anyway!) The connection between the two is really one of the amount of time spent in front of the TV. Four hours a night, more on weekends for 2 (3?) weeks of the year. I hate to miss it. But, along with all the things I enjoy about the Olympics, there are also lots of events I'm NOT interested in, interviews that I don't care about and, of course, commercials. What this means is that I had a lot of 'dead time' in front of the TV. Last time, I translated this 'dead time' to time at the vise.

I'm a recreational tier (as opposed to professional), but I still tie a lot of flies. Maybe 2,000 a year. But, I get bored easily. My idea of 'production tying' is to tie a dozen of the same pattern (preferably 6!). Even when I sit down and tie that many or more, I almost always start making variations. So, as the fishing season goes on, I find that I have lots of flies, but somehow keep running out of the 'best' ones!

The Olympics allow me to tie a few, take a break, tie some more, etc., and before I know it, I actually HAVE quite a pile tied up! No 'experimental' flies. No new patterns. No junk. Just the "go to" flies that every box should have.

So . . . what will this year's Gold Medal Flies be? Well, the list isn't complete yet. I'll have to check through my fly box and review my fishing trips this year. (I failed to keep a journal this year. Shame on me. The job will be harder!) But, I think I already know a few. First, I'll probably tie some smaller flies than usual. I tie most dries in a size 12. I'll probably tie a few more 16s this year. Likely suspects in the dries will be Elk Hair Caddis, Kings River Caddis, Black Gnats and probably Adams (although I've actually fished fewer Adams this year than normal). And I never tie enough parachutes (I prefer them with chartreuse posts). I'll probably tie more nymphs than I normally do. I've fished them more this year. Smaller nymphs than 'normal' as well. (Again, more size 16s than I usually tie.)

First and foremost on the list will be beadheads. Mostly just generic dark colored dubbed beadheads. Probably with a short tail. Maybe ribbed. Not detailed enough to even call it a GRHE. And my favorite beadhead - a damsel nymph. Throw in a beadhead stonefly (tied in the round). Pheasant Tails will probably round out the nymphs. Beadhead and regular, I suppose. The box will probably include Woolly Buggers (mostly olive this time, I think), a few egg patterns (dubbed - not the typical Glo Bugs) and Fur Ants (again, smaller sizes mostly - I have a bunch of the bigger ones still).

Finally, two flies that I just might have to include would be Al Campbell's SHWAPF. I've fished them a few times this year. It was effective for me, but may not have enough time in the water to be included in the Olympic effort. (The judges are still conferring!) And, one more fly that came from the 'FAOL connection.' That one would be the Series S Flash Fly. It's a fly tied and developed by Jerry - a friend of Gitt's. It was the fly that was extremely effective for silvers when Gitt brought his crew up here last year.

EVERYONE caught silvers on it - including me in only 5-6 casts. Again, instant success, but will it stand the test of time? Hmmm. If I were going to add new flies to the Gold Medal list, those might be on it.

Well, that's what I'm going to be doing during the Olympics. What are you doing? And, what's on your list? ~ Bob Fairchild (Chat room Host Bob F)

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