Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Art of Tying & Fishing Soft-Hackle Flies ~ Prologue

“We fish for pleasure; I for mine, you for yours.”  
~James Leisenring


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 Fortress Lake 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.

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     


15 comments:

  1. Looking forward to reading your insights.

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  2. You've got that Fortress Lake business burning into my mind. Sounds much better than a trek into Labrador as one of thousands.

    Anxiously awaiting the soft-hackle wisdom. Can't wait to read aloud especially fine sections to my spouse as I sit by the fire. Okay - maybe not. I'm the experienced spouse and know better. Mostly. I'll only read sections aloud when Lou the foxhound is the only house occupant. He's especially interested in the handling of fox squirrel fur. I had to rescue a skin from him Thursday night. Took it right off my desk.

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    1. Spike, probably better shared with ol' Lou. Had to go back into the Prologue & add a final thought to this line:

      'How does one contribute to that great tradition while avoiding redundancy or turning the whole thing into a scandal of banality?'

      I swear the coconut oil helps.

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    2. "Scandal of banality" - wonderful turn. Well done.

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  3. LOU ? I've been called "foxy" by some in days gone by, and I have new whiskers on the face, but I ain't no foxhound ! Dazed & Confused . . . which or what 'LOU' is being talked about here ? My ears are ringing, my nose is cold and wet . . . so what am I ?

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  4. Wow, . . . no WOW . . . it worked . . . OH so I have to really "click hard" on the track pad to get to my email verification that I AM Human & I AM . . . THE LOU in question ? ? ?

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    1. Lou, have you recently changes your last name to: TheFoxHound?...

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  5. SO your writing a book and giving it away free . . . . . . . . . ? . . . . . . . . . . . boy you rich guys really know how to . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ? Can't find a "cartoon" that reflects "tongue in cheek" !

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    1. Lou, may as well. Contrary to popular belief, publishers don't pay, really.

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    2. Always knew, well not always but not too long ago, that you were a "Charitable" person. My Mom, bless her departed soul, always told us the charity starts at home ! . . . and so we always gave out treats to ourselves 1st . . . ha ha just kidding !

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  6. Steve. Take 3 more spoonfuls of coconut oil as to remember the, have soom more coffee and smoke a brace cigs . Always look forward to your words.... just jeff

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    1. Jeff, just found a new use for the oil. Very nice. And hey, you might be pleased to know I burned a deuce while writing this message. Rock the Queets brother.

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  7. Each of us has a book in us - at least one.
    Getting it out is the challenge. Most try to throw it out all at once, or at least in a burst of energy and effort.
    But the The Book Within is a process, not a thing in a bottle to be released. It needs a start, sometimes a fitful one. It needs persistence, and it never really ends. You will rewrite it a hundred times, long after its considered finished.
    Personally, I'm glad you will develop and grow yours. I sincerely hope it consumes you and takes as long as is needed.

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    1. D, you sound like one familiar with the craft & its process. You might be surprised at the writers who pop in here from time to time.

      Among other things, the blog serves as a notebook, story bank, & a sort of 'engagement principal' gateway to my guide-site.

      You might enjoy Upper Columbia Flyfisher, linked in the RH column.

      Thanks for reading me & commenting.

      Steve

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