I started tying flies at age seven after a childhood illness that required me to be on bed rest for three months. My Great Uncle went to Patrick’s Fly Shop and bought me an orange neck a buck tail, some strung red hackle and orange chenille, I still have the neck although it has been well picked over. I learned from Roy’s Book on How to Tie Flies and for the first few years tied in my hands as I didn’t have a vice. Once I was well enough he also bought me a 9’ Granger and taught me how to cast and fish in a local stream for Cutthroat. This has been a lifelong passion that has defined my life, at times paid my bills and brought years of memories that will always be cherished.
In 1969 I attended a collage prep course in Bellingham and met a fellow fisherman whose father gave me a copy of HL Leonard’s book on fly tying, the title page had a wood cut of a Silver Doctor which absolutely enthralled me. I spent the next ten years trying to duplicate that fly, the materials, hooks and technique were held as trade secrets at that time and there were very few individuals in my area who knew how to tie these complicated and extravagant creations, let alone shops who carried the quality of materials required to achieve consistent results.
With the help of individuals like Alec Jackson who provided access to written materials, feathers, fur and appropriate hooks as well as a network of other like-minded Salmon Fly Dressers from the east and west coast I was able to start to figure out technical details to make thing look the way I pictured them in my mind. Alec also helped with the formation of the Salmon Fly Guild, holding the first meetings in the basement of his house and making sure that both myself and my wife Karen were on the original roster.
I also received advice and exposure to the art of dying feathers with both Mordant or Natural Dyes and Acid Dyes to create my own color pallet to more closely match the eighteenth century colors on original flies. My mentor in this was a member of the Evergreen Fly Club named Karl Hoffler, Karl also supported a local tying club at his place on Friday nights where ideas were exchanged on Patterns, technique and general history, he was a wealth of information an excellent fly tier and the best colorist I ever worked with.
I have done demonstration Tying and classes in Washington Oregon California and Idaho over the years, I truly believe that to become the best you can be at your craft you must learn to teach, only then will you be able to define and understand what you are doing well or how to correct particularly stubborn problems.
I have been privileged to tie with some of the best, Walt Johnson, Bob Veverka, Mark Waslick, Mike Matenack, Joe Rosono to name a few, all have been generous with their skill, technique’s and materials over the years. They embody the generous spirit and camaraderie that defines our sport and I consider each to be part of rather extended family of Tier’s who have paved a path for all of us to follow.