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Friday, October 1, 2010


Realistic Fly tying seems to have spawned various Art Flies that are not considered to actually belong in Fly tying. Some believe they have little or nothing to do with fishing flies. So they have no reason to be called flies. Others say materials or techniques disqualify them. I had what I considered a simple question. I quickly figured out it wasn't so simple. As I broke the question down and tried to answer it in parts I found some answers had more questions. Let me see if I can show what I mean. Here's my question.

"If fly art or an art fly is a descendant of, or the evolution of fishing flies. What characteristics must be evident before it no longer shares any ancestry to the origins of a fly. In other words it is no longer an art" fly" or "fly" art."

I started with the first part of my question. "If fly art or an art fly is a descendant of, or the evolution of fishing flies." Which in turn created a new question. "What is a fishing fly and what did it evolve from." Maybe if we knew nothing of history or tradition we could just say evolution starts where we are and with what we see. Even if we knew some history we could argue that what we see is already the evolution of the fly therefore we are just continuing that evolution. That would make a case for new materials and methods other than tying. It could even eliminate hooks. I can reference tube flies and flies tyed with that "velcro" stuff that entangles the teeth of a fish. I might even call them "evolutionary branches of the hook."

Say that I knew some history. I knew that the original flies were made of feather and fur and tyed to a hook. Say I wished to tye an art fly using those materials and methods. Am I not just working from a point on the evolutionary tree? Aren't I just choosing to start with an older ancestor of the fishing fly? Don't all flies evolve and branch out from those original flies?

Why wouldn't it be acceptable to create your own branch. Say you tied a fishing fly. It might even be able to actually catch fish!?! Of course it's not really necessary that it catch fish. It would have to be made durable enough to catch fish though. You might even have to demonstrate that fact. Possibly many times. Now you can clean your fishing fly up and make it look nice. You may decide to spend too much time on it to fish and guess what, you have an Art fly. Wouldn't your Art fly then have a legitimate ancestry that evolves from a working fishing fly. Same materials and techniques just more time. Problem solved! Or is it? There's going to be questions about the fishing fly. Such as... "How far back in the evolutionary tree did you branch off?" "Is that an acceptable place to branch off?" And "how come you didn't branch off at the very first fly man tyed?" I should add that the "catching fish question" will arise now.

These are all legitimate questions but these questions, that have no acceptable answer to some, do cloud the debate. The technical aspect of fishing fly to Art fly would be answered but is it good enough to claim your Art fly has a fishing fly heritage? Will that make it acceptable to others?

So far it seems to me the more something such as Realistics appear to differ from other flies. The more we must try to show how strong our links to fishing and traditions of the past are......I'm sure there will be more on this subject.......

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