I started fly tying in 1999 when I turned 13. The fishing season in Finland is pretty short and I have always lived in Southern Finland away from the best fishing spots which has made me express my interest to fly fishing more through fly tying. I have been fishing trout and grayling mostly and my tying in the early years was of course focused on the basic patterns for those species. I learned most of my tying in the beginning from books by myself which resulted in a lot of systematic errors in my tying technique which I still struggle to fix. That’s probably one of the reasons why I try to educate people in fly tying today.
From early on I was interested in the competition aspect of tying and Finland is probably the best place for it as the competition scene here is pretty active. I have always strived to tie better and better and competitions have helped me to achieve better technique and consistency which I can utilize on my fishing flies. Being a perfectionist I think I will always have something to improve on but that’s what keeps me going and makes this sport so interesting. I would’ve probably lost interest in fly tying already if I had felt that I’ve mastered it perfectly.
I try to tie all kinds of flies from modern pike and saltwater flies to classic salmon flies. I think the beauty on this sport is the variety of flies that you can tie and understanding the meaning of different material and structural choices made in tying them. Tying a fly to look good is one thing but tying it so that it performs as intended in fishing situation is a whole other story.
On the other hand fish are not that clever so a beginner must not get down if their flies don’t look like in books and magazines. You have to keep an open mind and fish with your patterns and think afterwards how they performed. Clean tying will come eventually through practice. There’s always room for innovation and there are no rules in fly tying even though it may seem that way when reading for example my posts and articles. My point is not to make people tie into a specific mold and abandon their creativeness but trying to get them to analyze their choices in tying and possibly to see the errors beforehand. It’s important to understand what you are doing in order to get better at it.
I’d like to encourage tiers to tie outside their comfort zone and experience with different patterns. Also when ever you have a chance watch how others are tying and try to pick up tricks from them and if they do something differently ask them why they do it. There is no right way to tie a fly, try to find one that suits your tying style. Usually the biggest improvements to your tying are the smallest details in for example thread control.