I’m Every Invertebrate…and some of the Vertebrates…


First off, Merry Christmas! I sincerely hope you and yourn have a happy, safe and loving Holiday and – if I don’t get around to writing another one of these in time – New Year.

My Christmas thought – no one is certain when Jesus of Nazareth was born but let’s assume it was December 25th of the year zero.  Back then, people were looking for a savior.  They felt a profound yearning to be saved from the troubles of their day.  Troubles that did not include wide-spread pollution, collapsing populations of plankton, exploding populations of humans,  depleted seas, or weapons in the hands of mere mortals capable of destroying the Earth.  That is our reality, yet our society at large rejects the need for any supernatural salvation.   A thing to make you go “Hmmmmmm…”

Let’s talk about a subject I largely despise – art.  And it’s the subject I hate, not art itself.

Flyosophy Fun Fact – The Flyosopher only received two C’s in his academic career both in 3rd grade from the same stagnant slake…I mean lovely teacher.  The first was in Penmanship…cursive is dead!!! I dance on its grave.  The second was in Art.  Not for nothing my crayon masterpiece of a bunch of minutemen beating the crap out of the Redcoats while transparent portraits of George Washington and Cornwallis glowered at each other from the heavens – a lot like the fighters did for Saturday Nights Main Event – was damn creative.  Lousy spinster – never trust a Ms…

I didn’t mean the school subject…I just meant when people are talking about art like they know when you know that they totally don’t.  Like the people who think they can tell fancy wines apart when you know that they can barely tell Coke from Pepsi.

First let’s discuss this portrait.


Duh, it’s the Mona Lisa.

Personally, I don’t get the hype.  It’s boring as hell.  Any panel from the Marvel Universe would be more riveting.  She’s kind of ugly.  Reminds me of my 3rd grade teacher.  Yet, for whatever reason this image is almost synonymous with art.  There have been people who wondered who she was, what she was thinking…almost every detail has been analyzed and critiqued.  She folds her hands this way to represent this…blah blah blah.  In the end it’s a picture of a woman with no eyebrows – seriously how creepy is it – no eyebrows – though I think that was the style of the time.  I’d take strong-browed Cindy Crawford any day.


“Awww you remembered me…I’m touched, not by you though and that wasn’t an invitation.”

Cindy Crawford

The Mona Lisa is a painting of a woman.  The portrait of a specific woman can compel the imagination of the viewer, or be ignored.  It represents one model, and we can only guess how well.  Personally, I think it doesn’t look entirely human, just human enough to be creepy.  But I’m just one viewer, my opinions are my own not universal.

But let’s talk about another image.  It’s a picture of the most beautiful woman ever to live, and the ugliest.  It’s a picture of your favorite actress, singer, that nice teacher you had who called you a genius for inventing the self-feeding fish tank.  It’s a picture of your mom, my mom, Obama’s Mamma, and your daughter (who I sincerely hope stays away from guys like me.)

Women bathroom

Stop and think…this is not a joke – well it’s kind of a joke but the deep kind.  The bathroom symbol lady is a picture of every woman.  Every woman regardless of age, race, size, shape, nationality or religion sees herself in this image and knows – hey that’s where I can go have a pee.

Smart right? As a general rule good ideas aren’t mine.  This one comes from the book Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud.

“By stripping down an image to its essential “meaning”, an artist can amplify that meaning in a way that realistic art can’t.”

Scott McCloud

The bathroom lady is every woman.  We have a fly that will never be as highly regarded as the Mona Lisa but is the “bathroom lady” of invertebrates, and some vertebrates…it’s a fly that more or less represents everything fish eat.


It’s the good ole Woolly Bugger – The Flyosopher’s vote for the MVP of the fly box – every fly box.

Now before I get into getting into the pattern, I just want to point out something of my personal belief when it comes to naming patterns – this was one of the biggest issues that came up during my years as an editor and it’s mostly meaningless outside of that context but I think it applies here.  A tyer can name a fly anything he wants, and they often do…but when does a pattern truly diverge from an established pattern?  If a tyer submits to the magazine with a fly that looks exactly like a Clouser Minnow, to you but says this is an “X Minnow” – where do you draw the line?  Does a line even need to be drawn?  Or by not drawing a line are you nothing but a plagiarism assistant?

There is no right or complete answer to this of course.  Yet everyone seems to have their ideas, which they are happy to share loudly and repeatedly.  The rule of thumb I used was: if the new fly is easiest to describe by making a parallel to an established fly – it is a variant.  It can have its own name, but the original fly should be at least referenced.  Not so much to give credit where credit is use – though that is important – but also to just use our trade jargon and to not look like a prick.  Plus, it’s easiest.

So if I tie a fly exactly like a Clouser, but with yak hair – I really should call it a yak-hair Clouser, but since we are artistes if a guy wanted to call it anything else that would be fine, but reference the Clouser as a source.

Bored yet? That was like 93% of the disagreements I had in that industry, not that they were terrible mind you, and not that there were rules.  I just figured a fly tying article should be held to the standards of a 6th grade term paper.

So with that said…how many variants of the woolly bugger do I use?

Not nearly enough…



~ by flyosophy on December 19, 2013.

One Response to “I’m Every Invertebrate…and some of the Vertebrates…”

  1. One thing I remember about the Mona Lisa. Leonardo used techniques to create perspective, never used before. The painting was a commission for some wealthy person. Some guy’s wife. The only chubby people in those days were wealthy.
    Regarding fly patterns. For many years our club taught salt water fly tying. To start, we taught basic skills. The first fly involved two materials: marabou tail and crystal chenille body. Our club President was offended I didm;t tell the students he developed the pattern. I had known about this tie for over ten years. In RI it’s called the schworm. Since then I’ve learned one popular gossip item in the tying community is about people stealing credit for patterns. Give a hundred experienced tiers a hook, marabou and crystal chenille. Everyone will tie the Schworm.
    I appreciate the picture of the affectionate librarian in the last Flyosophy post. Probably brings back fond memories from the Flyosopher’s early life. Which explains his love of all things literature.
    Regarding OJ Simpson. His victim had an Akita with her when she was stabbed. The dog was loose. I’ve known a few Akita’s. All were fierce guard dogs. Whoever stabbed her must have been known by the dog.

    Merry Christmas and keep cogitating!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: