Fly Tying: Fishermen Get Ready To Track Trout In Rim Streams, Lakes

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The Forest Service has all the Rim lakes open, including the backcountry's Chevelon, Bear Canyon and Knoll lakes. So it's time to try some trout fishing.

Outdoor columnist Dennis Pirch said rainbow trout are the most common catch, though there are still a few German browns in the lakes.

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Bob Yountz has been tying flies and rebuilding and constructing fishing rods for years. He was introduced to fly tying and refurbishing poles at the age of 10, by his uncle.

And where you find trout, you will most likely find fly fisherman and the extraordinary pieces of art they craft to catch their cunning prey.

Bob Yountz and others formed a fly tying club this year. "I started the club because I wanted to find some fishing buddies," Yountz said.

Yountz became enamored with fly tying at the age of 10; and with the love of tying flies came a love for fishing and custom fishing rods. Not only does he do fly tying, he rebuilds old bamboo fishing rods -- and crafts custom graphite ones, as well. In fact he almost does more with the rods now, than he does with the fly tying, he said.

"You can buy a graphite blank (rod) of all different types and then add all the stuff to it a client wants," he said.

The bamboo rod refurbishing is his specialty and his pride and joy is a true antique rod, originally built in about 1875. "In those days they built them really long," Yountz said. His prize is in four parts, with a hand-wrapped cork grip and each guide held in place by hand-wrapped thread. There are added details done in thread along all the poles of the rod.

He said he does a lot of rod refurbishing for a decorator who puts them in lodges and businesses, but he also makes usable ones as well. It almost always involves scraping away the old varnish from the bamboo by hand and resetting the guides, sometimes replacing the cork grip and reel seat.

Even though he spends a great deal of time building and rebuilding fishing rods, Yountz still has his hobby room set up for fly tying. His workbench is set up with small, sturdy vices that give him the third hand that some of the fly tying requires. It is pocked with holes of varying sizes to hold equipment, such as different kinds of small scissors, tweezers, pins and threads.

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This is just a small portion of the collection of flies Bob Yountz has created over the last 30 years or so. Each delicate work of art involves piece-by-piece construction and yards of special fly-tying thread.

Within easy reach are what looks like 100 little boxes, all neatly labeled, with other equipment and materials Yountz uses with his fly tying craft. To the right of the bench is a row of different kinds of feathers that appear to have come from several different flocks of birds.

His current project -- for the purposes of the Rim Review interview -- is a cricket. He started with selecting the appropriate hook and securing it in the bench's center vice. The base on which he is building the body is a lightweight, dark foam, akin to packing material.

"The eyes are made from that plastic-coated edger wire. If you heat the end of it, it makes a little ball," he said. While the edger wire is red, Yountz has colored it black with a permanent marker.

The cricket body is made from something called Swiss straw, he said. He attaches the straw to his foam base by wrapping thread around it at intervals to give the "body" the lines cricket shells typically have. The legs and antennae are made with chicken feathers -- single feathers, carefully trimmed and tied into place, with a little bit of painting from a permanent marker.

Yountz's cricket fly is about an inch long and perhaps a quarter-inch wide, fairly sizeable, when it comes to flies.

His collection of flies fills multiple plastic, compartmentalized cases. The creations come in all sizes -- as do the hooks they are designed to camouflage. Then there are the "nymphs," which are supposed to represent the larvae stage of a variety of bugs on which trout like to dine. Some of these are hardly bigger than a nail clipping.

Yountz's work with his fishing rods and his other hobby -- ham radio operation -- don't give him the time to do any teaching. However, the Payson Flycasters Club has members who are willing to teach people the art. Yountz said there are also kits available with the equipment and materials to explore the hobby on your own.

The club has more than 40 members now and the next meeting is Saturday, May 19. There is also a weekly workshop for basic fly tying.

To further explore the world of fly tying, surf the Internet. On Google, there are more than 1.5 million references to the hobby listed, plus the top ones are also suppliers of equipment and materials. There is even a site that offers free instructions.

For more information about the club, call Yountz at (928) 474-5024, or e-mail him at rodbuilder@ mypayson.com. To learn more about the fly tying workshops, call Ted Moffitt at (928) 474-8849.

The club's Web site is paysonflycasters.com.

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