As often happens at the beginning of a new year, I’ve been contemplating projects for 2017. Made a few resolutions: Try to understand people better. Take better care of my teeth. Dance more. Attempt to make it up to B.C. & hike into
for brook trout. Sure, some may recognize those same resolutions from last year.
Still committed, some things just take longer than a year to accomplish. Fortress Lake
But those are resolutions not projects, exactly.
Took year-end stock of all the diverse material I’ve deposited here willy-nilly on SHJ. Also thinking about what I’ve omitted yet should include. Contemplating how the information might be mined, crafted & condensed to an actual book. Struggled with the idea for some time. The most daunting part of writing a book on soft-hackle flies is considering the impressive volumes of work on the subject already in print. How does one add to that great tradition while avoiding redundancy or turning the whole thing into a scandal of banality?
If I think about it too much I’ll never get started.
Though I’m finding some comfort operating under the premise that no book on soft-hackle flies is the final word, & that any book on angling or fly patterns is simply the recording of the author’s own experience, perceptions & conclusions. Just as no two fly tyers interpret a Hare’s Ear exactly the same, no two anglers interpret the game quite the same, & certainly no two writers will write the same book.
So. I’ll record my own experience, perceptions & fly patterns that have proven useful, & let the reader decide its merit. Time & usage will decide what enters tradition. Keeping in mind that real ‘tradition’ is not the accumulation of old things. Tradition is, simply, the Archive Of What Worked. And that is alive & continuing, not static. When examining the soft-hackle tradition from streamside we come to see that a time-line is merely a construct & there really is no ‘old’ or ‘new’, no East or West. More & more I’m coming to see that notions of ‘modern’ or ‘innovative’ are also ambiguous constructs at best, particularly when applied to fly designs. And each writer chronicles from a uniquely individual perspective, each, more or less, adding something useful. I assume no authority but that which has been gifted me. For whatever it’s worth.
If nothing else, The Art of Tying & Fishing Soft-Hackle Flies will be one of the first entire books on the subject (along with Neil Norman's excellent work, A Soft Hackle Pattern Book) published online & available for free. I figure the best that could happen is: a twelve year old fishing kid somewhere will read it & find something valuable in it.
Here’s to being forever twelve.
Installed an email notification in the RH column, for those who’d like to be notified when a new chapter is posted. Saving your seat.
~Steven Bird 2017