Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tying Flies.

I feel like I am on a movie set. On a scape I have dreamt. Painted into a picture I have seen before --- like when Bert draws Mary Poppins a jolly holiday and they jump into the sidewalk, careful not to smudge what has been created, what is so beautiful...

I wander and wonder when I will wake to find myself alone again. But I don't. We walk towards the river, always towards the water. And he is still there...

...saying, "I think I know how you learn. I will tie one first.....just watch." He pulls close a black folding stool, the kind I used to lug around with my guitar to gig weddings with, and I sit down. I lean in to get a better view, but am careful to keep out of his light.  Of course he is right. He knows how I learn. He knows who I am, and how I work. He watches me closely. He observes. I can tell when his eyes are taking notes -- about me -- lining his memory in ink...not chalk that will wash away, or pencil to be erased. 

His hands move gracefully, and every step melts to fluidity. I listen. I observe. I look at him. I take notes.

It is my turn. Three of each color. A dozen total. But, practice the finish first, he says, reminding me of how I always used to practice the last lines of music first, bars measured to perfection. The finish must be strong. I tie whip knot, after whip knot, after whip knot. The motion feels good to my fingers...finishing something I have yet to start. Rounded five times, bowing in close...it's a gentlemen of a knot....

I begin to wrap, just as I saw him do, and thread spools off the bobbin. Good...good...now, don't twist the marabou so tight. Yes, much better, and my next fly doesn't look like it has a tumor beneath its tail. If I were a fish, I really wouldn't want to eat a cancerous fly.

He stares at me like I'm a little-green-man, an alien in this new world...in his world. Where did this woman come from!?  And why is she sitting at my tying desk? I wonder the same thing. I have watched him here, at this desk, peeking into this world from far away, up a canyon, before I was let in. Over and over and over again I watched his hands, moving mine as puppets.....shadowing. I wanted to be a part of this beautiful thing too. I wanted his hands to show me how. I watched and listened and translated his trade-talking-tongue.   
He walks over to the futon. To write, he says. And that is when I know I'm doing ok. He leaves me on my own. With my back turned, I smile. The vise is oiled by his hands, with touches of wear and worn fingerways of travel, and I follow them with mine. After a few minutes, I hear a snore. I keep tying...

I illuminate. Like a monk. The water like a skinned parchment, bare; eddying begs for colors, for words -- in order to be read. And, to glean that which is at the bottom and unseen...come out, I say....tying......

Looking down, there is one hook left. "Pick out any colors you want for the last one," he says, waking from writing. "Can fish see colors?", I ask. "Yes they can." And I sense that he is testing my bug-sensibilities as a fisherman. What will I pick? What I like, or what the fish will. I like buggy colors. My lenses are earth toned.

He smiles, and says, as I take my last fly off the vise and turn around for him to see --- You are a good fisherman...and that is your best one yet...



13 comments:

  1. I really like the second picture.

    You'll blow out your knees, sitting like that.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Upon further review, it's actually the third picture...second picture of actual fly tying.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have always wanted to jump in one of Bert's chalk pictures and go on some magical adventure.
    Looks like you did well young Skywalker the force must be with you. And yes we do see through earth toned lenses :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Clif - I know. :) But, I have a old habit from a horse riding injury (badly bruised tailbone) and I can never sit squarely. Plus, it makes me taller -- like a booster seat!

    sgb - yes, I have always wanted to dance with penguins!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Tying flies will help make you a better fisherperson. I tip my hat to you.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I really enjoyed the post. Can't wait to read a post where you were able to fool a fish into taking a fly you tied. Glad I found your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sanders - I fooled one yesterday! Post is forthcoming. Very glad to have you reading!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I thought for a fact I was following you but I guess I wasn't hmm... well even though I knew about your blog and posted comments before, you got a new follower! You look so concentrated on it. I tie sitting on my feet as well. Great Job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Welcome to the darkside of fly fising

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dustin's Fly Box - Thank you!!! And I'm glad to have you reading! Ah ha, and you haven't ruined your knees yet, sitting like that!? :) I've definitely crossed a "line" -- last night I tied a pretty mean looking minnow for pike!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have noticed it has done that to me on a couple blogs, I always clicked the follow at the upper left so now I need to make sure to follow in the middle of the blog. Haven't ruined my knees yet but after an hour or so I need to stand

    ReplyDelete
  11. I began tying my own flies two years into fly fishing, I am currently not only teaching fly fishing for total newbies but I strongly believe that if you catch a fish on a fly that you personally made you are hooked for life. It would be nice to see more of your handmade flies. Nice job.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Alan - Yes, there is just something addictive about catching on your own fly. It just is so amazing, and really shouldn't work! :) Thanks for your comments, and I am working on some fly posts...studying streamers right now!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sometimes I think I get more enjoyment from tying flies than the actual fishing. But then catching something on one I made is a great sense of accomplishment. HA! I fooled another one! haha

    ReplyDelete