Fly Tying

Jerry’s Bench

After my first trip to Norway in 1968, my interest in fishing was stimulated by the fishing success I experienced. We were living in Michigan at the time and I tried my skills in the south east portion of the state. The next spring I accepted employment with Sandia Labs in New Mexico. Due to federal budget cutbacks the employment didn’t materialize so we decided to leave Michigan and go back to Santa Barbara so off we went.

At first I tried using streamer flies in the rivers and lakes in Santa Barbara County and due to the total lack of fly shops or outdoor shops I started making the flies I was using. I was very fortunate that the public library in the city of Santa Barbara had an extensive section of books for fly fishing and fly tying. I read each of the books with enthusiasm and some more than once. A friend suggested I contact Neal Taylor, he said that “Neal is the person to go to if you want to fly fish.” Neal gave me some very good tips over the years on fly tying. Neal was a fly tier himself and also a 5 times national casting champion and part time actor. I got busy making and purchasing the tools and materials to construct flies. By the way don’t over look swap meets for materials.

One day while talking to Neal, he asked me to make some flies for the store he was managing. After several months of tying for the store I knew there had to be a better way. I placed an ad in the local paper for people wanting to tie flies for part time work. I don’t remember how many people went through the training but it was a good exercise for me teaching them. At least I wasn’t staying up all night tying flies to fill an order myself.

We started a chapter of Trout Unlimited. This gave the local fly fisherman a focal point. Even though TU is not a fly fishing organization, we were. When the members of the club wanted to learn how to tie flies, I was the one given that task. After exhausting my limited knowledge, we still met once a week to tie flies together.

Over the years I rarely miss an opportunity to study any of the top fly tiers that are available. Jack Dennis was my first and Bob Quigley has been my last to date. When I say study, what is meant is, in person, three feet away watching what they are doing. You would be surprised at what they do with their hands. It is my opinion that you will never know it all and that you will never stop learning as long you apply yourself.

It is also my belief, that when you have gathered knowledge, you have an oblation to share and teach others in the sport. I am always here to share knowledge and help when I can.

Jerry Hopewell