And The Lord said, “Modify my killing patterns not with thy name or risk Everlasting Censure”

Reduced_DressingMy last blurb mentioned how everything was likely to arrive early, be shorter, and fraught with unrealized complications, and would require anglers to brave Nature’s adversity.

I forgot how modification of a standard pattern was a Sacred Cow and could land a naïve fellow in hot water.

Reducing a pattern to fit on a smaller hook requires considerable changes to the basic pattern, and a canny tier needs to understand the waters they just parked their toe in …

The materials and accoutrements of large hooks rarely extend to their smallish cousin without interpretation, as the physics of the smaller hook cannot be denied.

Yet the biggest issue facing an angler intent on modifying an existing pattern is not the dressing, rather it’s the inherent Magic in the dressing. Tinkering with a known killer that may be a couple decades older than you are is the equivalent of tinkering with “luck” – crucial to fishing yet largely indefinable, akin to Jungle magic.

If you change a favorite classic to reduce its shape, colors, silhouette, or weight, did you ruin it?

… and if so is goat sacrifice enough to appease an Angry God?

Most anglers would never consider something so base and tasteless, and the notion of changing the tail on an Adams’ is sacrilege. An Adam’s is perfection, a fly that dominated every environment into which it has been hurled …

While we commend your fervor, one of your biggest and earliest hurdles  in fly fishing is the understanding there is nothing special about an Adam’s or Royal Wulff, they simply enjoy the same happenstance that allowed VHS to beat out Betamax, which was a better public relations firm.

… and us fly fishing snobs can be swept up into two piles; those that insist everything you throw at a fish should remind it of what it ate a minute ago, or, the group that insists you should scare, piss off, or antagonize the fish into lashing out uncontrollably.

That first bunch will laud you if scientific rationale is part of your color and material reduction, the second will adore you if you spread a little opalescence or add an invasive tinsel.

In most cases neither group will acknowledge the other, and while they may occasionally buy each other a drink or surrender the riffle to the other contingent hoping they fail they do have much more in common than most would think.

The agree on the silhouette of bugs, their many stages, the split finger fastball, and the small of a woman’s back, but deviate on the colors, tinsels, and beads with which each must be dressed.

In short, you can tear a grand old pattern into pieces, reassemble the silhouette and colors, and you’re likely to have as killing a pattern as when you started. Add in a bit of sparkle or give the old gal a hint of color as a “tramp stamp” and you’ve not sullied the past an iota, merely given homage where it’s due.

… but if you put your first name in front of it, or use the word “invented” in the same sentence … you’re reviled by both groups, you’re an Untouchable, a Poser – or worse, a Belieber … to be cast from us like a indicator foam in trophy water.

4 thoughts on “And The Lord said, “Modify my killing patterns not with thy name or risk Everlasting Censure””

  1. Here, here!

    I just unfriended a friend on facebook for claiming one of Dave Whitlock’s fly patterns as his own. When I asked him what was different, he said his was stacked deer hair, not spun. His fate was sealed.

    Some things are sacred, afterall, and this is serious stuff- especially near the end of a long, cold winter…

  2. Uh…a good many of us are familiar with the: King James version which was enough to send us streamside on Sundays. The Lil Stinking version… sounds more appropriate to a snake handlers cult than something clutched to the bosom of a missionary of fly fishing.

    ” and thou shalt name thy variations not in thy name but callest it a: Shop Floor Dust Rat and bask in the glory of thy creation.”

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