When I first started tying at fly shows, back in the very early 80’s, my concoctions were limited to realistic stoneflies, beetles, grasshoppers, and roaches- otherwise known as “Ugly Bugs”. I added a 14/0 peacock nymph to the fare at the request of the local flyshop owner, Rod Robinder. The 14/0 (Mustad) flies became Fantasy Flies and Day-Dreamer Streamers.
In the late 80’s I added mice and rats to the show, plus the #32 Mustad flies, and during the 90’s I added the first realistic ties for what would become “psycho residents” of the “Baits Hotel”. Thanks to a good friend, Richard Whitner, who introduced me to “Flex-o” body material, I had a new form of art to explore. Although great for baitfish, this material lends itself splendidly to artistic interpretations.
Residents of the “Baits Motel”
||Roswell Martian Mouse
When Jack Dennis became a friend, he attested that in his travels the world over, he never saw the likes of my “novelty tying”. He graciously added me as a guest tier on his TV series. But not everyone warmed up to novelty tying. Many flyfishers were still in the practical mode. For a long time I was alone in my little niche “just having fun”. Saber-toothed mice and martian mice, crocodile rat-flies, pigs, and platypii, appealed to tiers and fishers with a great sense of humor, but not all saw the need for novelty tying.
Realistic Deer Hair Creations
||Platy and Mouse
||Platy and Mouse
||Nigel & Sheila
||Captured White Mouse
After a period of time, the “‘Baits Hotel” (a Plano Guide-box) became my personal box of “psycho-flies” that are basically the props for a comedy routine that incorporates presentations, humor, art, extreme tying – and an audience to “cast” to. I like to reel’em in, then release them laughing and un-harmed (though not unaffected).
What boils down to “fly-tying stand-up comedy” has gained a large following over the years. Today, I am happy to say, there is a whole new class of tyers who tie ‘oddities’ just for the sake of fun. They have joined me on the “Fly Side”- the “other” dimension of fly tying.
The majority of the giant Fantasy Flies sold are the 14/0 trout flies mounted as desk sets, mantle mounts, or wall mounts. Most are purchased as gifts for the hard-to-buy-for fly fisherman who has every gadget imaginable, including enough rods and reels to outfit a shop. The Fantasy Fly sits on the desk at the office to remind him or her the big one is waiting just for them, or to get the fishing conversations going. Fly shops, guide services, restaurants, and gift shops have taken advantage of the wonderful advertising possibilities of Fantasy Flies. Thank you for taking a look at what my giant Fantasy Flies have become over 25 years.