View Full Version : when is a fly design your own?
05-12-2005, 09:35 AM
when does a fly pattern that has already been established, get tweaked enough to warrant a new name? i understand it is getting harder and harder to invent new flies, especially in the trout realm, but i thought this would be a good discussion.
i want to start with the patuxent special. no discredit to jay sheppard but this is the only example i can think of right now. is this fly not just a ginger woolly bugger with a piece of fox squirrel for a tail instead of marabou?
how about if i tweak it to be thinner and much shorter in the tail but tie in squirrel tail 1/4 up from the bend toward the eye on each side to replicate the pinchers of a crawfish. can i now name it the mikecraw?
no discredit toward any tyers please, just thoughts on the subject.
05-12-2005, 10:01 AM
My conditions are rather stringent--first I must tie the fly myself, then--the hardest part, I must catch a fish of a lifetime on it :>
good tough question for sure, you can break a fly down many ways--form, function, material etc. I think most people recognize the deceiver and clouser for instance, as the basis for most saltwater patterns for example. The same for the wooly bugger in freshwater--in my book, any variation in any of the aspects previously mentioned (and many more) its fair game to give it our our name or spin. I don't think this discredits the original pattern--most of us recognize the implicit--and accept the old motto regarding imitation as the purest form of flattery. Then of course you have truly novel patterns, like Popovics has consistently done, and that needs no clarification. good topic for sure...
05-12-2005, 11:12 AM
When it is so ugly than no one will even try to copy or improve it..
Example: My croaker fly..
Capt Mike Starrett
05-12-2005, 12:27 PM
I would say it would have to be an original design. My three originals are:(1) The bag fly: Often referred to as the trash bag fly by some outdoor writers. Biggest fish caught on it was 22lb striper. (2) The dollar bill fly. 8lb false abacore and 5 other species. Caught a white perch on it yesterday and plan on catching a hickory shad on it this evening.
(3) Chesapeake Fly. To my knowlege It is the first pattern tied on a jig hook. It predates Clouser minnow and appears in Leftys first fly pattern book as a bluefish fly. I have modified a little since the original but its very simular Best fish was 14lb 2oz weakfish on 4lb tippet.
05-12-2005, 01:46 PM
personally, when I have a creation that is different enough in some way to deserve naming it, I do. For example, after being tasked by my wife to wash and brush our yellow lab, I got a little crazy and created a kind of unique streamer pattern made entirely of lab hair. I have named the fly "Noth'in but G" (dogs name is Gracie).
When everyone else starts tying/fishing my pattern and calling it by name then that is when I feel I have an offical named pattern.
05-12-2005, 07:36 PM
Interesting & difficult question to answer especially since there is often a great degree of overlap of patterns & styles. A Deceiver & a Clouser are both styles. They can be tied in an endless combination of materials & colors, but credit should still be given to Lefty Kreh & Bob Clouser for the style, no matter who ties the fly.
The woolly bugger is also a style. In the example of the Patuxent Special, the fox squirrel tail changes the material used and perhaps the style, but it could be debated that it's still a woolly bugger. I recall seeing some New Zealand flies many years ago, that pre-dated the woolly bugger, tied in a very similar manner, but with a tail of some type of hair. Does this mean that the woolly bugger is not an original design? Does it mean that the Patuxent Special is not original? Perhaps, but then maybe not, again it could be debated either way.
If you look back into fly tying history, many flies, said to be originated by a specific tyer, have characteristics similar to other flies of the same period, or often flies of earlier design. We as tyers copy what we see & like & what works, and often attempt to improve on others designs by modifying them. There is often a fine line between originality & modification.
When there were fewer tyers & materials were hard to obtain, it was probably easier to create an original fly, but today it is much more difficult, and likely that several tyers can "create" the same fly without any of them being aware of the others efforts. A good example of this are patterns listed in some of the books by Ted Leeson & Jim Schollmeyer. "Inshore Flies" "Trout Flies of the East" & "Trout Flies of the West" are all compilations of "shop" patterns tied by various fly shops & commercial tyers (me included) yet there are many flies listed that are so similar they could have been the same fly. Who gets the credit? Hard to determine on many flies.
Again looking back into tying history, flies like New England bucktail or feather streamers often had very similar styles or designs but the patterns varied due to the color or materials used. In this case the credit was given to the tyer who originated the pattern since many tyers tied in the same style. They were all basically trying to imitate Smelt or other baitfish, and there was a limited amount of tying materials available to them. Same can be said of many popular North American hairwing Salmon or Steelhead flies. Of course, many of our most popular & historical flies were tied by only a handful of prominent tyers too. That is not the case today.
Unless there is some economic reason for wanting to have an original design, it's often best not to call a design your own unless you can be sure that no one has ever created something similar, or you're ready for the argument that will certainly evolve.
05-12-2005, 08:27 PM
Great question and somewhat of a sore spot for me, but I have gotten over it. Some years ago, I came up with a pattern that utilized other fly designs that were used previously by other tyers. These characterisitcs i.e. lead eyes on the top of the hook for the fly point up and rubber bands for legs had been around for a long time, and I felt that they were standard attributes for a crab. My body was cut from pieces of furry foam and glued around two rattles after the claws, legs and eyes had been put into place. I never named the fly, but after two seasons of catching really nice stripers in Cape Cod, a guide friend of mine published an article in SWFF, giving a name to the fly. It caught on and received some attention.
A well known fisherman asked me to tie the fly to his specs(colors). I did, and he had success with the pattern. A short time later I noticed that the same pattern that I tied for him was being marketed in a flyfishing catalog with his name on it. The only difference was the color of the tips for the claws were changed.
So, when is a fly pattern your own?
05-12-2005, 09:37 PM
I got sick of it when working at Orvis, and I agree with the feeling behind the origional post question. Why does everything have to have some jack-a*s wannabe's name on it:
Not like Lefty's Deceiver, Grey Wulff or Sawyers Pheasant Tail. Those guys earned the right to have their name associated with a fly. So I agree, changing the color of wing on a Wulff doesn't mean you get to name it after yourself. Bob Clouser's pattern was so unique and innovative, that calling it a Clouser makes some sense, but all this other crap is just weak.
Orvis was famous for taking flies that they stole from guides, and either putting it in the catalog outright or just renaming it. There are at least 4 in there now that I know where basically pirated from other tyers.
It seems like there is so much branding going on, it's ****** me off. Seems to have started with that moron Jim Teeny, who attempted to patent one if his files years ago. People hated him for it, arguing that it introduced a dangerous form of commercialism into the sport that was a slippery slope, and here we are today.
I see fly fishing headed the way of pro tournament bass fishing, with the bass boats being trailered into the Superdome, with flashbulbs ablaze when he pulls two 2 lb bass out of bags and holds them up like they were the last two fish on earth.
It's already happening. Fly fishing competitions. Patented flies. I hate it. I liked it better when flies were just named things like Paramache Belle, Zug Bug, Black Nose Dace, or cool names like Chernyobyl Ant or Disco Midge.
You know, I really don't give a damn if I leave some kind of mark on fly fishing. I'm more interesting in having fly fishing making a mark on me, or better yet, having fly fishing making a mark on someone else that I've taught or encouraged. I just can't see some 8 year old kid getting all excited about catching his first trout on a "size 10 Tony Smith's version of the fly formerly known as an Adams". I'd rather he caught it on a "Riffle Smut", and let him figure out what the hell that was all about.
I long for the days when it wasn't all about the individual, but the mystique. There is a lifetime of wisdom that lays dead in the caynon between "Rosenbauer’s Parachute Beetle" and "The Usual".
Thanks for letting me vent. I have no idea why I react so strongly to that type of stuff. But man, I agree that these subtle changes leading to flies being renamed is just a joke.
05-13-2005, 06:23 AM
Amen TT, although I have to give Blane Chocklett credit for taking us into a whole new arena of tying materials with Siliskin. He might just warrant one branded fly. As for new color variations of the Clouser - get real guys.
05-13-2005, 07:30 AM
At this point in the game I doubt that there's anything that hasn't been done before at least in appearance and principle. Siliskin may be new, but I've seen flies done with silicone calk over hair and other materials that looked a lot like the gummy - nine or ten years ago. From a strictly personal standpoint if I've developed a pattern on my own - to me it's my pattern. It doesn't matter if I find out that Bob Popovics created and named it 5 years ago - to me it's my creation. I got there as surely as Bob did. It doesn't bother me he got there first. As far as claiming ownership to the world at large - I just don't go there, don't need to, don't want to. After Joe Brooks, Lefty, Stu Apte, and so many others, and about a hundred books on fly patterns, we're all just reinventing. There is just so much you can do to a hook with hair and feathers to catch a fish, but it certainly is a hoot getting there on your own. If becoming famous is your goal however, it seems to be whatever you can get away with ........