montana fly tying

John Foust’s parachute tool

I was fortunate to spend an afternoon with Montana fly tying and fishing legend John Foust.  You may have never heard of John, he’s not a big self-promotor, but if you’ve fly fished for trout in the western US you have likely felt his influence whether you know it or not.  Foust is one of the most innovative fly tyers in recent history.  He developed some of the first stamps to cut foam bodies and wings, perfected adhesives to glue foam and other fly tying materials, invented the parachute tool, he even built the mechanical trout they used in the movie “A River Runs Through It.”.  I am simply amazed at his creative mind, he has probably forgotten more about fly fishing than I will ever know.

This winter I called John asking if he knew how I could make my parachute flies more durable.  Sometimes they would fail after only a few fish and it was always due to the hackle coming loose on the fly.  John just chuckled and told me to drop by his house sometime with my vise.

fly tying tool

The tool at work

John sat down at the vise and started tying a parachute adams.  Everything looked standard to me until he tied the post in.  Then he flipped up this tool and started tying a strand of monofilament in.  It looked complicated and I had trouble keeping up but John just kept on going and explained that the tool allowed you to secure the hackle with 4lb mono so there was physically no way the fly could come unraveled.  He also said that using the tool added no more than 30 seconds to a minute to the overall time of tying the fly once you got used to the steps.

montana dry fly

Tightening the mono loop to secure the hackle

I was more than skeptical at first.  I am not a fan of tools in fly tying, the fewer tools the better and I thought the process would take too long.  But after sitting with John for half an hour and tying some flies I’m a true believer.  What looked complicated in the beginning is really rather easy and by the end of the session I was cranking out flies quickly.  The best part is that an extra 45 seconds on the front end creates a parachute fly that is nearly indestructible.  In my business flies that last pay big dividends in the long run.


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