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From Paul Schullery, likely the most well-known fly fishing historian in at least the U.S.:

"Invention" is a fragile concept in fly fishing. Hardly any idea is completely new. The bigger question to ask about all the supposed inventors of the streamer might be, which ones had the greatest reach among subsequent generations of anglers? It's one thing to invent something, but it might be a more important thing to refine an old invention so successfully that the world notices.

I excerpted this from an article he wrote concerning the origins of the streamer fly; hence the reference to "...inventors of the streamer might be...

I would submit that you could insert any type of fly where "streamer" is.
 

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Forever Learning
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It is interesting but as always when people touch this topic i ask this: How can anyone take as own the invention of a "kind" of fly? A streamer, or a dry, or a wet, all are kinds but not flies on themselves, hence no one could have ever invented them as a fact. But, and here comes my favorite part, if someone would say yes, that is possible to support the above, then all flies in the world are just vile copies of the original flies used by the pharaoh in egypt 5000+ years ago, since that is the oldest reference to flyfishing that historians were able to track.

The problem here is that some people tend to look at a fly as if it were just a mundane object, as an aparatus which is what can be "invented", but in truth flies are a kind of art, they are created, and thousand new flies can be created starting from a common inspiring source, it would be like saying that a painter "invented" his/her work, i bet he/she would be "just a bit upset" to have anybody saying they "invented" instead of they"created".

About flies, i stongly believe that we all permanently create new flies, new ways to work the materials, new combinations, etc.

I don't know, every time i read some thread about these topics, no matter where or around what stuff, it never tend to end good.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If you ever want to have some real fun, go to some trout tying forum, and suggest that Theodore Gordon is NOT (and he ain't) the "father" of the dry fly in America.

I just get a little prickly when folks tell me how I ought to refer to things, and if I do it their way, I'll feel better about it.

I view these forums as cool places to learn about flies and how to tie them, what's new in the world of materials, and what other people are into. I don't come to them to get lessons on what is the appropriate way to refer to a fly of a given lineage by self-appointed experts and arbitors. The way it stands with me is: you do it your way, and you feel good, and I'll do it my way, and I'll feel good. And, in truth, I really don't care how you do it.
the end.
 

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On creativity in anything.........flies, art, etc.

" Anything you do , let it come from you,then it will be new...... give us more to see.."

Steven Sondheim
 

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from my website some time ago

Children Of The Sages....

I come to the water as a fisherman and a student, and such I shall always remain. I live in reverence to the fish and fisherman who have come before me, and those who come beyond me.

My flies have not been dreamed up and created from a void. They have grown from experience and from the influence of many talented fly-tyers, whom I hold in great reverence. I suppose my own style could be described as an attempt to connect my own understanding of fishing with the knowledge of the fly-tying Sages. At heart, I treat each of my flies as followers of a great fly-fishing tradition and as members of an extended family of finely-tied flies; they are children of the Sages.

I tie flies in homage to the fish, out of respect to the beauty of the world we live in, and to its many game fish that I pursue with love and admiration. They are more than worthy of the time and creativity I expend at the vise. Whether a fly takes five minutes or forty-five minutes to tie, when I tie it on the end of my line it feels good; it feels right.

Creativity yes..
Originality @ times...perhaps
Inventor.....whatever

david
 

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Pullin' Thread
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So if I tie a heavily weight black stonely nymph on a #22 light wire standard shank length hook and call it a low-water salmon fly that makes it so? Or I tie a Lady Caroline on a #16 2xl, standard wire hook and call it a bown-olive nymph it is also so? Hey how about an unweighted Woolly Bugger tied on a #2 Wilson Dry Fly Hook and call it a Dead Chicken Skater?

My point is that without having some semblence of standards and common characteristics (or ideals) for fly types nothing but utter confusion results. Yes, it is only fly fishing or fly tying and not rocket science, but nontheless common nomenclature regarding fly styles is needed or else chaos reigns.
 

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I’m all about creativity and doing things out of the box, that is how new and affective flies are invented. But with that said I have to agree with flytyer, standards and common characteristics are there in fly tying for a reason. The flies tied with those standards and common characteristics work. Sure, I could tie a dead chicken on a hook and some place in this vast world there is a fish that will try to eat it. But I am not going to catch an Atlantic salmon swinging the mess.
 

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I think the queston is not chaos vs order.

We all know what makes a fly be a streamer, or a dry, or a prawn, or a nymph, etc etc, it is a series of features composing the fly and those cannot be alleged as "invented" by nobody in particular with the exception of few cases maybe (intruders comes to my mind, for example). Tthat's why i always like to speak about flies as kinds or types and not names, on think is to say an adamas, another to say a dry midge.

Once the standards are set, generally coming from common use and acceptance, even regional effectiveness, we just use them as guidelines, that is what cause the flies to fill-in in the different categories, though no one can really get the credit for inventing those categories imho.

I can tell you all that i am a very happy person without knowing who "supposedly" "invented" this or that fly i tie, in fact all i usually care is to be able to track down that pattern to the original recipe and try thinking was was that guy/gal thinking about when he/she created the fly but i really don't care about who was he/she (except when i like to tease some people off, like everytime i see a royal coachman with GP tippets for the tail instead of woodduck hehe).

Though that my "issue" with this is about what's on the original post, it gives the example of "who invented the streamer" and that is what i do not agree, if it would have said "who invented the akroyd" or "who invented the pop sicle" or "who invented the woolly bugger", all fine, just a question of semantics, i chose creator, you chose inventor, no big deal; but those are real, specific flies and is not the same as giving credit to someone for a whole category of flies, that goes beyond any book to me.
 

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gt05254:

yep...I'm the guy who had the audacity to suggest that if "you give credit where credit is due" you just might feel better for it. I stand by it.

Perhaps in grade school we should teach our kids that it is OK to copy phrases, paragraphs, or ideas from someone elses work and submit them in a report as being their own. We teach them how and why we cite our sources.

Granted, small styllistic changes and substitutions make it tough to determine where one persons work ends and anothers begin but in many cases (whether intentional or not) it is quite obvious. Why? Because you know it when you see it.

It was never my intent to belittle you or inflame you to the point where your responses had to come from an emotional position; and while it does get my hackles up to hear the singing of The Star Spangled Banner ruthlessly bastardized...seeing a version of a classic fly tied without acknowledgement..hardly ripples my water.

Daveg
 

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Discussion Starter #14
authenticity and originality

All interesting points made above. Interestingly, speaking of plagerism, while I was working on my doctorate, a young man totally plagerized my Master's Thesis - brought to my attention by a colleague in the field. We (that would be the dept. I was working on my Ph.D. in, at another university) got his M.S. taken away from him. So what I'm trying to say is that I know a little about correct attribution, etc.

As it relates to fly fishing...think about the incredible number of variations on, say, a Lefty's Deceiver. Lefty is a friend of mine; in all our conversations, I never heard him once worry about all that.

I once was lucky enough to co-host an 8 hour roundtable with some interesting participants. Dave Whitlock, Lefty Kreh, Leon Chandler, Bud Lilly, Stu Apte, Paul Schullery and maybe one or two others I can't remember. Now Bud and Leon don't have "named" flies, but Dave, Lefty and Stu sure do. We had fun talking about how the flies came to be, etc...and not once did anybody say anything like they wished people would not fool with their "inventions".

I just don't see the worry in calling an adaptation of, say, the GP, "the way I tie a GP." If I tried to call the way I tie a GP something like "GT's Shrimp", then everybody would jump on the "hey, that's just a variation of a GP, its nothing new" bandwagon. So yer screwed if ya do and yer screwed if ya don't. I need to go re-read Catch22.
 

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Grandpa Howard
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Last year at the NW Fly tying Expo there was a plate of Green Butt Skunks tied by all the big names. Not one of the flies looked identical and not all where tied with white wings. All the flies had two things in common, black body and a green butt. Without question every one of the flies would catch, even the ones that diverted from the original. When I say, “your hook, no rules,” it is to express the freedom that is attached to tying steelhead flies. I’m pretty sure a steelhead in attack mode doesn’t stop to see if the tip and tag is tied in too short or if the wing is too long. Granted, proper proportions are important and failure to follow the set standards will have an impact on the flies overall performance, but for me it is more about having confidence in the fly tied to the end of my leader. The confidence I have in the flies I fish has come through thinking outside the box, trying new approaches and a constant quest for improvement. The few flies that I claim as mine are nothing more than expressions of the inner feelings I have for steelhead and the pursuit thereof. Do I take credit for inventing them? -- absolutely not, but I do take credit for developing them into patterns I have confidence in. I have been tying steelhead flies for over 25 years now ( hero statement that is supposed to add validity to my comment) and can honestly say that until last year I have never caught a fish on one of the so called classics. To shake things up a little bit in my fly box for last year’s trip to the Ronde I went retro and tied a few Brindles, and sure enough a wild hen crushed one on the last day of the trip. I fished a Brindle on my last trip with no success but because of last year’s experience I fished it with confidence and isn’t that what it’s all about? If you think the fly doesn’t matter you are really missing out. Why copy when you can create. It warms my heart when I see someone taking one of my creations and tweaking it into a better fit for them. That’s what I have been doing from the start and it’s worked exceptionally well for me. So don’t tell me my wing is too long or that my body goes beyond the point of the hook, because for me there are no hard set rules placing limitations on my ability of expression. There is no fish on the planet that gives the tyer more latitude when it comes to flies. No need to match the hatch so why not. Good tying and better fishing.
 

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Last year at the NW Fly tying Expo there was a plate of Green Butt Skunks tied by all the big names. Not one of the flies looked identical and not all where tied with white wings. All the flies had two things in common, black body and a green butt. Without question every one of the flies would catch, even the ones that diverted from the original. When I say, “your hook, no rules,” it is to express the freedom that is attached to tying steelhead flies. I’m pretty sure a steelhead in attack mode doesn’t stop to see if the tip and tag is tied in too short or if the wing is too long. Granted, proper proportions are important and failure to follow the set standards will have an impact on the flies overall performance, but for me it is more about having confidence in the fly tied to the end of my leader. The confidence I have in the flies I fish has come through thinking outside the box, trying new approaches and a constant quest for improvement. The few flies that I claim as mine are nothing more than expressions of the inner feelings I have for steelhead and the pursuit thereof. Do I take credit for inventing them? -- absolutely not, but I do take credit for developing them into patterns I have confidence in. I have been tying steelhead flies for over 25 years now ( hero statement that is supposed to add validity to my comment) and can honestly say that until last year I have never caught a fish on one of the so called classics. To shake things up a little bit in my fly box for last year’s trip to the Ronde I went retro and tied a few Brindles, and sure enough a wild hen crushed one on the last day of the trip. I fished a Brindle on my last trip with no success but because of last year’s experience I fished it with confidence and isn’t that what it’s all about? If you think the fly doesn’t matter you are really missing out. Why copy when you can create. It warms my heart when I see someone taking one of my creations and tweaking it into a better fit for them. That’s what I have been doing from the start and it’s worked exceptionally well for me. So don’t tell me my wing is too long or that my body goes beyond the point of the hook, because for me there are no hard set rules placing limitations on my ability of expression. There is no fish on the planet that gives the tyer more latitude when it comes to flies. No need to match the hatch so why not. Good tying and better fishing.

Well said Marty. Is there a book on these fly tying rules? If someone writes a book and dose it a serten way dose that make it the way it shall be done by all or it's wrong. I do lots of shorkaling in the summer and CheyAnne swing fly's in front of me and i can tell you this much with cofidence if you tie on a wing like glasso did and tie on a wing like marty sunning the stems threw the eye of the hook. It swims absolutly the same. And as for tags if you see what i see you will start making your tags longer. As far as praportions go me and cheyanne were fishing the same runn i cought a hen on a size 12 doubble Lady C and CheyAnne hooked up a fish on a lady C 1.5 aj hook same fly differnt look and the 12 dose look like a nymph that is 1 in. under the water. Like Marty said your hook your rules
 

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I see there are many folks misunderstanding what I'm getting at. Those who are experienced and accomplished tyers of a given fly style don't need to pay attention to the details of a fly style's character in its entirety because they already understand proportions, sparseness (or lack thereof), good technique, the importance of excellent thread management, the importance of using good materials, etc. These experience and accomplished tyers can and do bend the "rules" often; however, their flies always look good and even folks with little to no knowledge or ability to tie flies can look at one of their flies with the "rules" bent and still see the quality and excellence of the tying.

However, the same is not the case with folks who are new to a particular fly style or who are not accomplished and experienced tyers. New tyers, tyers new to a particular style, those who are not very accomplished or rather experienced tyers need to know what the "rules" of a particular fly style are in order to develop into very good to excellent tyers of that style. Knowing the "rules" of that style and adhering to them until the techniques, proportions, and style elements are mastered greatly helps such folks become good tyers far more quickly than if they had free reign to through the style "rule book" out the window.

This is why I point out the things I do based upon generally recognized and accepted "rules" of a particular fly styles elements and look. It is to allow inexperienced and less skilled tyers become proficient in a shorter amount of time. Once a tyer becomes skilled at a particular style of fly, it matters little if he changes some of the proportions or slightly alters a style element, his flies will still have the look of very well-tied and excellent flies. But, and here is the important part, the experienced and skilled tyer knows exactly why he does that he does; the inexperienced and less-skilled tyer does not know. And that gentlemen makes all the difference.
 

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Grandpa Howard
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Here again two totally different views though I do agree with flytyer in a sense. If a new tyer chooses to tie a classic, let say a Glasso’ s Orange Heron and wants to duplicate or copy the pattern, than yes there are recognized “rules” that need to be followed to mimic the original. So if that is the ultimate goal then yes you need to pay close attention to the details of the fly you are attempting to copy. Bringing us back to the copy or create idea. Here is my question, did Syd Glasso copy established patterns from days of old only to rename them and take credit for their development? I would think not. It is my understanding Mr. Glasso was inspired by the classics and developed a series of flies using the attributes found in patterns of the River Spey region of Scotland as well as the full dressed salmon flies. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to meet the man, but from what I have read about him he was constantly working on improving his tying skills. Over the years the appearance of his flies changed and they became even more refined. He was a tyer who was constantly working to improve his game. The flies that he tied for Trey Combs book, Steelhead Fly Fishing and Flies are a perfect example. A novice tyer could easily identify the inconsistencies and lack of attention to detail in the presentation of the 10 flies submitted for the book. I am pretty sure there was no one telling him his wings were set too high, that the tails were too long or the tag failed to come down the bend far enough. I get the feeling Syd tied his flies to suit his needs and did not place limitations or rules on himself as he worked to produce effective tools to catch steelhead. For many, his flies became a standard and have been duplicated over and over again. Bringing us back to copy or create once again. In all of my tying I have only made a couple of attempts at coping a Glasso’s fly. Does that mean I don’t appreciate his contribution to the steelhead tying community? Absolutely not, his flies have served as an inspiration in a number of the winter feather winged flies I tie. With that said does it really matter how one wraps thread and materials on a hook, are there really hard and fast rules in producing an effective steelhead pattern? I think not. To me tying steelhead flies is a very personal thing. It is a way I can project myself into the process. When I am swinging a fly that I have created, I feel connected to the river and the fish I am pursuing. Rules bind personal expression and the ability to create. I hate to bring this up because I am not an intruder fan, but if Sir Edward adhered to the rules of the day he never would have pushed his tying in the direction he took. His intruder broke all the rules, but there again, was there someone there impeding the progression of the intruder by saying, “That’s not a fly, it doesn’t have a married wing?” Is the Intruder an original? -- not so much -- fore and aft flies were in use long before Ed started tying. Did Ed develop a fly to fit his personal needs using new and innovative techniques and a little old school inspiration? -- absolutely. As with Syd Glasso’s tying style, Ed’s contribution to steelhead flies has spawned hundreds of variations and has inspired a whole new generation of tyers. Who knows where the next grand idea will come from, maybe some 16 year old that has the bug bad. You will never hear me say, stick to the rules, they are tried and true and there is no need for change, on the contrary, break all the rules and find what works for you. I submit my flies to this site as a starting point, not to be copied. Duplicating them is not a bad idea because they are tried and true, but I would not limit yourself to rigid, in the box thinking. The grandest reward comes from a buttoned fish on an expression of ones self. Good tying and better fishing
 

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It's nice to see someone like Marty, who creates and shares with all of us, really gorgeous flies, have this approach to tying.

Flytyer, what makes a tyer accomplished? Is it the ability to sit down and crank out 2 dozen identical flies to exact specifications? Frankly, that is not a goal of mine and that would take a great deal of the joy I get from tying out of it. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the pioneers of fly tying and the work they put into developing their patterns and styles, and hope to continue to learn about how and why they did what they did. But I will continue to feel accomplished every time I sit at a vice with freedom, finish a fly that is beautiful to me, and then have a fish hammer that 'ol ugly mess that's on the end of my line.
 

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Technically speaking, “create” and “invent“ mean the same thing. There’s not an official dictionary in print that would say otherwise. “Create” is a bit more poetic and artsy I think. Invent sounds hard and industrial. Hackle pliers were invented; the Lady Amherst was created…

If you research the biographies of many of the world’s talented, successful musicians, artists, actors, dancers, writers, athletes etc. you will learn that the vast majority were schooled and trained classic technique first. This irrespective of their inherent talent before they went on to break any rules. Sure, I am the first to say, “It’s your fly, dress it how you want.” And I myself do. But only after years of studying and practicing the work of those before me. At any and all of my tying demos and classes I clearly state that the best thing I ever did for my fly tying was to study the art of tying the classic Atlantic salmon fly. But the choice in ones approach is entirely subjective of course!

We are free to create and express ourselves with a hook as a canvas, but all aspiring tiers please remember that hundreds of years and hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of hours have been spent by a great many men and women laying the foundation and groundwork for us. We continue to greatly contribute to the evolution. Now everybody go tie a classic, then create one of your own! One, two, three break…
 
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