By: Matt Grajewski
It is safe to say that all modern day fly tiers have influences. Similar to a band. We have people that taught us how to tie our first fly, and we have people that help us push the limits of the flies we tie. I still remember when my older brother, Eric, got a small fly tying kit when we were kids. Back in the pre-internet days, it was much harder to find info. Especially for some youngsters. I remember watching Eric try to tie flies and ice fishing jigs. Occasionally, he would let me have a go at it. I’m pretty sure the masterpieces we thought we tied up would be funny to look at today. They caught bluegills though, and that was all that mattered. I also remember the first time I learned some real techniques that I still apply today.
About 20 years ago, I had knee surgery as the result of a basketball injury which meant I had a lot of free time on my hands. My buddy, Steve, came over and showed me how to tie a stonefly. It was the first time I learned some of the basics. That one fly would launch me into the obsession I have today. I guess the blown ACL and meniscus was a blessing in disguise. I remember tying flies almost daily as my activity level was pretty limited. Things didn’t start out so pretty, but by the time I was able to get back on the water, I was tying fishable flies.
There are a number of tiers today that can influence what I tie, or give me inspiration. Guys like Russ Maddin, Bob Popovics, Nick Granato, Eli Berant, Jeff Hubbard, Kevin Feenstra, Kelly Galloup, Bob Braendle, just to name a few. The first time I came across Rich Strolis’ work it was like looking in a mirror. Its interesting to see tiers from around the world that follow a similar thought process, even if they have never met or seen each other’s work.
I have no shame in looking to others for inspiration. If I ever stop trying to expand my tying abilities and thought process, it will be time for me to step away from the vise. I have a bad habit of not fishing patterns that have been successful. The challenge of finding something new is what really motivates me what tying and fishing. It is just how my brain works. Many times its the result of my time on the water. Thinking of a certain action, a color combination, a specific imitation, or different size. How will it cast? How will it move? How durable will it be? How will the materials mesh? It all plays a role. But when I come across a killer fly by another tier, it usually gets my wheels turning. Nothing wrong with that.