Friday Classic | Keeping up with the Clousers

I’m not sure which was more embarrassing, tethering some red string to a hook and calling it “fly tying” or resorting to the worm and calling it “angling”. But Picasso started with finger paints, the architect of the pyramids probably built a dog house or two first, and my inner craftsman needed an ego-boost. So I tied it on, lobbed it out in front of the drift boat and picked up a nice rainbow from the soft water above a riffle. With that, the lifetime skunk of fish landed on personally tied flies was officially and forever out of the boat.

“Dada, the fish liked the worm, cause see!” recounted my four year old, ready for a replay just minutes after the release. “He was swimming and he said ‘yum’ cause he uh…and I saw the orange thing go down and, and, um… you caught the fish, remember?”

He was ecstatic, fist pumps and high-fives all around. So was I… for a moment. The shine fades quickly though from conquests of acquisition. Satisfaction spooks upstream and around the next bend before we even realize that the fullness of now has deflated into the void of tomorrow. That rainbow was a thrill… but on a tawdry San Juan? Surely I’d be more fulfilled hooking up on a “real fly”.

So back to the vise I went, more confident now, and needier. San Juans led naturally to rock worms, rock worms to sow bugs, sow bugs to streamers. Before long I’d followed the rabbit hole to an improvised crawdad, bastardized just enough from a popular pattern to consider it my own creation. I headed back to the river, nominally interested in fishing, but mostly hell-bent on catching a fish with my new toy.

Twenty minutes from the truck, I had him.

Photo by Matthew Copeland

Photo by Matthew Copeland

Twenty-one minutes from the truck, I was paging through my mental fly catalog, shopping for the next pattern.

It’s true what they say. The gap between more and enough never closes. I suppose at least I could do worse, as obsessions go. Plus the little guy helps keep me in check. He’s still talking about that worm like it starred in The Lego Movie. Come to think of it, the fish seem rather fond of it too…

4 Comments on “Friday Classic | Keeping up with the Clousers

  1. Great article! Reminds me of my daughters. I started them all (youngest 10 and oldest now 16) on the vise tying San Juans. I like to think it’s the bright colors that keeps them coming back. Maybe it’s the simplicity. Either way, I’m hoping one day they’ll be tying my Copper Johns and Parachute Quills.


    • Some parents make their kids take piano lessons. I like your approach better!

    • I like to think of it as being resourceful.

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