TYING ONE ON: For the Prairie Fly Fishers, fly tying is a club tradition
Every fourth Tuesday night of the month, the Prairie Fly Fishers meet at the Backwoods store in north Oklahoma City to make fishing flies.
Members of this small, but dedicated club of fly anglers have been meeting once a month for the past 35 years to tie fishing flies.
For the last 17 years, they have been gathering at Backwoods, where store manager and club member Tom Adams picks a different fishing fly to make each month.
For January, Adams decided to go old-school, selecting the Hornberg, a fly pattern created by Wisconsin game warden Frank Hornberg, who developed it in the 1920s.
“Not many guys are tying it anymore,” said Bob Williams of Oklahoma City, who has had a seat at the fly-tying table at Backwoods for the past 17 years. “This is the most complicated fly we have ever attempted. We usually don't get this adventurous.”
Sitting across from the 73-year-old Williams was Rob Underwood of Moore, who was making his first appearance at the fly-tying shindig.
Underwood, 46, started fly fishing just a year ago, teaching himself how to cast a fly rod at his neighborhood pond.
“The casting part is an art and it really hooked me,” Underwood said. “Fly fishing has given me a real connection to my dad who was a really good fisherman. In my younger years, I really didn't take advantage of learning from him. I foolishly wasted the opportunity.”
Underwood just started tying fishing flies after a friend gifted him a fly tying kit last Christmas.
“I enjoy the meticulous nature of it,” Underwood said of his new hobby. “I am an engineer by trade and I like detailed things.”
Bill Bond of Oklahoma City picked up his first fly rod almost 60 years ago. It's been a lifelong obsession instilled in him by his grandfather, who taught him to fly fish when he was 9 years old.
Bond still uses his grandfather's vise today to tie flies. Something he says his grandfather would be smiling about if he knew.
Fishing flies are supposed to look like the bugs that trout eat, and fly fishermen take great pride in catching fish on their homemade lures.
“If you fool them with something you tie, that's fun,” Bond said.
Trout is the most common prey for the fly fisherman, but all kinds of species can be caught on a fly rod, especially bass and bluegill. Underwood was showing photos of the 4-pound channel catfish he recently caught on a fly rod at his neighborhood pond.
Fishing flies can be made from many different materials, but feathers from birds such as pheasant and turkeys or fur from rabbits and squirrels are popular choices.
“You get to be real good buddies with hunters, because they give you all the feathers you want,” said Bond, who will tie on average about 200 flies a year.
Asked which fishing fly is his favorite, Bond replied, “Whatever one they are biting.”
Spoken like a true fisherman.