Monday, April 8, 2013

Anglers Shine Light on Self-Made Tools

   On a Saturday morning at the local coffee shop, Larry, our club prez, described how a nymph

breaks through the surface tension on a body of water and showed us how to tie his version of an emerging nymph –using two vises to get the job done.  Larry reported a friend had drug his carcass over to the library to watch ‘Bugs of the Underworld”. He said, “You could see the nymphs coming up reverse of how we tie them, latch on to the film with their feet & lever themselves, coming up butt first through the film.”  He spent a couple of years engineering how to make a tied fly act in the same manner as an emerging nymph & dubbed his pattern the ‘Shakey Jake’.

   I’ve really come to appreciate what I’ve learned from others at the coffee-shop get-togethers, club events, fly fishing shows, or while simply sitting around a campfire with others at the end of a fishing day.  Perhaps it’s taken awhile to suddenly see what’s probably been going on around me all this time, but I  truly appreciate it now & I wonder how many other anglers feel the same as I do.

   At a club meeting, Pat T gave me a tool he’d created to make it easier to pop a brass or tungsten
bead over the hook bend.  On a later date he showed us a resin tool he’d made to fit in the hand. It had a row of magnets inset along its edge and with a sweep of it along the floor one would retrieve those small hooks that invariably like to jump off the tying table to hide in the carpet.  My friend Jackfish Kate has a small medicine bottle attached to her fly vest.  In a hole made through the bottle’s lid, she deposits monofilament tag ends, keeping them out of the stream & avoiding the double-digit cost for products designed to do a similar thing.

   Often tying in less-than-optimum light and not wishing to spend $40-180 for a long-necked lamp, I’ve been searching for a creative & cost-effective way to make my own portable lamp.  I also wanted the option of operating it with rechargeable batteries.  I emailed a couple of fellow tiers who tie commercially and tie at fly fishing shows or shops.  Neither had run across a lamp concoction like I wanted.  Next, I searched for solutions in the automotive, craft, & book industries:  Too expensive, too short, too this or that.  Kate again had a good idea.  She gave me a 3-legged, magnetic base with clamp option, flexible, long-necked outdoor grill light to try.  The price for one was right & it worked great, except that the light was not bright enough to tie larger flies. 

Then, I walked in the door at another club meeting and spotted Pat T using a portable, long-necked battery-operated lamp.  It was his concoction.  He’d bought a 5” long, skinny, bright LED light.  He’d also had a broken desk lamp with a flexible neck.  Pat jerry-rigged these two objects and made his own affordable tying lamp.  I found the same bright LED lights at our K&K Hardware Store & at Batteries Plus.  I bought one for $9.99 + tax & I probably should’ve bought another!  Then, I began searching craft stores, hardware stores, & online for parts to make my own lamp base and neck.  The neck solution kept eluding me.  Back at K&K, I ran into Howard – he is a musician who comes to our tying events at the coffee shop.  I told Howard about my search to make or find lamp parts.

   In less than a week, Howard emailed me.  He’d been at the Salvation Army and had found a flexible, long-necked halogen lamp for $3.75 and had bought it.  Last Saturday he brought it to the coffee shop.  I gave him $5 for his kindness, plugged it in and tied some flies in the company of my angling and musician friends.  Even corded, it would serve a good purpose, but there was another idea brewing.

   The halogen lamp had a square ‘pull’ on the head’s base to make it easier to adjust when hot.  Yesterday, I started monkeying around with the lamp and my LED light.  Soon, the pocket clip for the light was attached to the lamp’s metal pull, and a rubber band was looped around the opposite end of the LED light and slipped over the pivot point of the lamp’s head.  This leveled the LED light, with the non-clip side of the light supported by the halogen lamp’s neck. Then I took my portable, flexible long-necked, duo light source with duo power source lamp to my friends’ house and tied up some flies using the lamp’s battery option.  $15.00, a rubber band, & the help of friends.  Priceless.