With the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having here in the Northeast, American shad are already running up the Delaware River. They’re about 3 weeks early, but all the same, I decided over the weekend it was time to tie up some new shad flies (below). I absolutely love tying these bugs for several reasons. One, they’re incredibly easy. If it takes more than 5 minutes to whip-finish one, you’re doing it wrong. And two, there is really no rhyme or reason to the patterns. All you’re trying to do is make something obnoxious that will tick off a shad, and that makes creativity limitless. There are no rules in shad fly tying.


Here’s why I’m a bad fly tyer: I have a short attention span. It’s not that I’m unable to craft a nice Adams or Copper John, but what I can’t do is tie two dozen in a sitting. That’s why I’ll never be able to stop supplementing my boxes with bought flies. But more than my lack of focus, it’s tough to be creative when you’re just tying bugs someone else designed. It’s not fun for me. This is why 9 times out of 10, if I sit down at the vise, I’m tying a streamer.

The main drawer of my tying station is overloaded with streamer materials of every ilk. Each time I put one together, I try to make it different than the last. Long rubber legs, short rubber legs. Extra Mylar, no Mylar. Purple and white bunny strips in one bug, blue and yellow marabou in the next. It’s a constant experiment. When I hit on a scheme that seems to be turning a few fish, I might make more, but even then I’ll likely change something just a touch. So are you into creative tying, or regimented tying with the goal of filling your boxes with proven patterns?