Winter Fly Tying always begins with the unenviable task of cleaning. The fly tying desk has laid dormant since the end of the guide season in the fall. No time to tie during the hectic hunting season and certainly no thoughts of cleaning occur during the overdone mess that has become our American holiday season. Only now, in the depths of winter, I face the reality of sorting through the wreckage from last year. Typically the tying desk stays relatively well organized through the middle of the guide season. Flies get tied at night when stocks run low and materials are returned to their rightful places. All is right in the fly tying world until fatigue starts to creep in. After two weeks straight on the river in the heat of late July the last thing I want to do is sit at the vise in the evening. But my desire to catch trout outweighs my need for a full nights sleep. The fly shops either don’t have what I need, or they are out of stock so at the desk I sit. To conserve time and energy I start to cut corners. Materials begin to accumulate on the table. It starts out small scale as I tell myself that I’ll need to tie more of the same in the coming nights. Then conditions change on the rivers. The trusty PMD pattern that had been getting it done all week starts to get snubbed in favor of a rusty spinner. That’s the tipping point and the downward spiral ensues. Instead of putting away all the PMD stuff it simply gets pushed to the side and out comes the rusty spinner materials. This scenario plays out for a few months and the pile takes on a life of it’s own. I think about cleaning, but only have enough time to crank out three bugs over a cup of coffee before picking up clients. It usually gets to the point where the desk itself is barely visible and instead of putting stuff away it just goes to the floor. By the time the last guide day rolls around I’m lucky if I can even find my tools and there is a big sigh of relief when I push my chair back for the last time of the season. Of course, now all the clutter comes calling. Cleaning the tying desk is never that enjoyable although it does allow me to relive the highlights from the previous year. I can always recall the best hatches by what is laid out, and each layer that is put back in the bins takes me back through the season. It took a couple of days this time, but the desk is finally ready for some winter fly tying. I don’t even try to pretend anymore that this year I’ll do better. The chaos will come again.
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