Realistic Fly Tier forum March 2007 Fly of the Month is by a friend of mine, Tomas Whitehouse. To view Realistic Fly Tier forum you must be a registered member. Tomas gave me the permission to publish his story here.
I’m Tomas, I am a realistic fly tyer although I still love to tie traditional trout flies. I’m originally from Birmingham, England. I live now in Helsinki, Finland with my girlfriend Tuuli. I’m in the midst of writing my first book on realistic tying to be released in the Finnish language It’s very hard work but I’m having a lot of fun. Here’s a little snippet which basically explains how I got into fly fishing and fly tying:
A PISCATORIAL AWAKENING.
Tuuli and I were sitting on a large rock that majestically rose out of the calm and still waters of lake Bodom. Over our heads hung a huge open sky, an awesome swirling mass of sienna washes bleeding into a slowly fading sun.
I was still amazed at how long the days were during the summer season here in Finland. It was certainly late although we had no care for time. We were fishing.
Behind us, resembling a treasure chest that had been ransacked in the hight of a battle, was our newly acquired fishing tackle box, festooned with hundreds of brand new lures, spinners, spoons, jigs and hooks that hung over the compartment shelves in sparkling tangles spilling out onto the rock. We sat side by side, rods in one hand and a bottle of Karjala in the other, whispering to each other, trying not to spook any fish.
Coincidentally, Tuuli informed me that the chosen camping spot was in fact the precise spot where the legendary Bodom murders took place in June 1960. However, all of our attention was tightly focused on our line’s end disappearing into the motionless water, anticipating the arrival of any fish.
Silence. Nothing. Not a bite.
No knife wielding, mass murdering lunatic could have broken our enhanced state of concentration.
As time passed the waters of Lake Bodom began to stir, A large splash came from our right, piercing through the heavy silence like a gunshot in a crowded high street, shattering our concentration We gasped, whatever it was, it was big! More splashes followed, from the left then in front! The water that was once so calm and still was now peppered with ripples of rising fish. They were everywhere! It was like an assault!
We scrambled to our feet, casting in every direction, positive that we would have a fish on any moment. I felt my line snag and an alarming arc bent my rod,
“Wow!, I got something!” I hollered.
I tried to wind in my line but there was a lot of resistance,
“It’s really fighting!” I huffed.
My heart hammered in my chest, what was it? A trout? A pike? A Volkswagen? I hadn’t a clue but it was fat and heavy!
“Please don’t come off” I said in between clenched teeth.
As I reeled in my line I saw a vague flash of silver in the water, I reeled faster, It was close.
You can imagine the dilemma of ambivalence I faced when I dragged my prize out onto the rock. A half rusting hulk of a barbecue grill.
I’ll never forget the sweet sound of Tuuli’s laughter. It will always echo through my mind forever. In these circumstances, you gotta laugh it up!
“It’s really fighting” she said in between giggles.
After ‘The Barbecue Incident’ we tried and tried to catch a fish, we tried every lure, spinner, spoon and jig in our inventory but nothing was working. What was going on? The fish where bobbing their heads out of the water and warbling at us, mocking us! We sat, deflated and defeated on our big majestic rock. No longer feeling so majestic and sipping away at our last beers.
“What’s happening? Why aren’t they biting?” I whined as I slapped at a little squad of midges that bumped into my cheek, tickling my face and neck.
“What are they eating? They’re completely ignoring our baits.” I exclaimed.
Then it hit me. The fish were gobbling up the small flies that were either hatching or drowning in the surface of the water.
“Flies….” I said. “We need to fish with flies!”
Thus a dawning of a new era for Tuuli and I. We camped out that night talking about fly fishing and how much we couldn’t wait to try it. We slept in our tent underneath the trees in that precise spot where the Bodom murders took place nearly 50 years ago.
We didn’t get slaughtered in our sleep but some whack job stole one of Tuuli’s favourite shoes from out side our tent. Not the pair, just the one. I do, obviously, ask myself why?, though I already know the answer: Just because.
The interest in fly tying came a few days later,when searching the vast expanses of the internet. I was hunting for deals on fly fishing rods and reels when I stumbled across a quick-time movie of a french gentleman speedily whipping up a dry sedge, it took him less than a few minutes to complete the fly and an even shorter time to completely addict me.
My eyes were opened to the world of realistic tying when I found the name ‘Paul Whillock’ in yet another Sunday morning internet search session, I brought up his website. A good moment passed as I struggled to come to terms with what my ocular senses were trying to dicifer. At first I thought I was looking at a picture of a insect that had a hook protruding from it’s posterior! A reaction that U.S customs had shared when Paul sent some of his flies over to America before a prestigious Fly Tying Festival.
Every fly that I had tied before that very moment suddenly shared similarities to children's toys.
I hastily visited the online store link and saw that he had published a book on how to create flies in the same manner, I must have it! Immediately! Me me me!
As my debit card was not amongst the list of acceptable form of payment, (it never was, with Solo, your on your own kid!). I sent Paul an email. Upon looking through the contact information, low and behold he lives exactly where I was working at the time. In the mail I enquired about buying a book from him in person as I was moving over to Finland very soon and I wished to take a copy with me. I sent the mail and went about my day. Around 24 hours later,my new found fly tying hero was in fact my friend! We met up in a rather too popular for human health fast food chain and had a good old talk over a few cups of coffee. Paul came armed with his book ‘ Flies As Art’ and a bag of fantastic tying materials, the like in which I had never even heard of before. I went home a very happy and a very changed man.
I sincerely thank Paul very much for that afternoon and I sincerely thank everyone who takes part in this forum for continuing to inspire, amaze and relentlessly encourage folk like me.
All The Best.