Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day 58 - Craft Perfection

After last week's fishing trip, I realized that I was getting kind of low on my go to fly: the Pink Squirrel. This is a pretty big deal for me right now. Normally I would head to River Falls, WI and pick up a few flies at the hardware store on Main Street, however I no longer live in MN or even anywhere close to River Falls. As an added hurdle, no one has ever heard of the Pink Squirrel here in Greensboro.

As much as I love fly tying, I don't think I've ever tied a Pink Squirrel. So being a child of the technology age, I Goggled it. Interesting... I ended up with all sorts of results, including the history of the fly. Apparently the originator of the fly, John Bethke, was getting tired of the strikes at his pink BioStrike indicator. The Virtual Flybox gives a little more history and tying instructions for the pattern.

I had the recipe, but was a little put off that that recipe requires actual squirrel hair (should have guessed by the description). In all 7 drawers of my material chest, I do not have a lick of squirrel material. Hmmm... I searched my dubbing drawer and started pulling out all sorts of "belly lint" and discovered that I had a nice little box of dyed rabbit fur. Close enough for right now. The other item that was required was coral pink chenille. I searched the drawers and came pretty close.

I sat down at the dining room table and pulled out a #14 scud hook, added a gold bead to it, and then placed it into the vise. I wrapped on a couple wraps of 6/0 gray thread and then cut three pieces of kyrstal flash and tied them to the hook bend. I found some fine gold wire and tied that in at the tail as well. Using the rotary motion of the Nor-vise, I dubbed on some chocolate colored rabbit fur. I wrapped the thread/dubbing forward to just past the hook point, and then counter wrapped the wire over the top of the dubbing. I took out the coral pink chenille and tied on two wraps of that onto the hook, and then whipped finished and snipped off the thread.

I looked at the end result, and decided I wasn't happy with it. The krystal flash stuck out too far, the chocolate dubbing ended up to far up the shank, the wire was too thin, and the chenille seemed to bulky.

Round 2.

I put a little more emphasis on measuring out the krystal flash this time. Also, I took care to secure the dubbing exactly at the hook point. This time I used a heavier gage wire for the ribbing. Finally, I used some pink dubbing for the front part and eliminated the chenille.

The results were a little better. Still not satisfied though. The krystal flash ended up in the right position and the right length. The heavier wire also worked well. However, the taper of the chocolate dubbing didn't seem correct. In fact, it looked like it had a tootsie roll body with absolutely no taper to it. Dang it. Also, while I like the pink dubbing better than the chenille, it still didn't seem right. It seemed... too sparse? too long?

Round 3.

I tied in the thread and the krystal flash like I did on the last one. I then tied on the gold wire and used the thread to build a slight body taper. Much happier. I dubbed the chocolate rabbit fur on sparse at the beginning and thicker towards the end (insert dirty joke here). I moved the end point of the chocolate dubbing a little further past the hook point. I then dubbed a big clump of pink dubbing onto the thread (after counter wrapping the wire) and made a big hairy mess behind the bead.

Perfect. At least it appeared that way to me. The true test will come on the water, but it seems to have the right proportions to me however. And so I'm happy. I'll be churning out quite a few of these flies over the next couple of days to help restock my fly box (and my wife's).

I'm sure a more eloquent writer could come up with a perfect simile of this process and life. If at first you don't succeed...? Only when we reflect upon our past can we change our future...? Ugh... they both drip with sap, and I don't think anyone needs a "pat" answer for life. Instead, I'll let you draw you own life lesson from above and I'll continue to tie Pink Squirrels for the next couple of days.

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