Fly fishing and Fly Tying monthly is running a fly tying league and entrants can submit flies into either the “open” or the “novice” category. This month published pictures of some of the winning entries.

I have been tying flies on and off for more than 20 years and I have to admit that my flies look absolutely crap compared to those produced even the “novice” category. The judges are looking for evidence of tying skill, a sense of proportion, a neat head, a tidy hackle and that kind of thing. If they ever saw anything that came from my vice they would probably laugh. Or maybe cry.

Of course they never will see one because I would be too ashamed to ever submit one of my own. It would be like having the hunchback of Notre Dame enter a beauty pageant or turning up a Crufts, as the experts are selecting “best of breed” and submitting a dog with five legs and two heads. I don´t need any expert to tell me my flies are awful – it´s obvious!

It is not uncommon to see “demonstration” flies that are so beautifully tied that they seem virtually indistinguishable from the genuine article and the tiers of such things are quite justified in considering themselves artists and craftsmen. I admire the creators of such marvels but can´t get away from the idea that they are being a bit silly. Flies, after all, are for fishing and their lives may be pitifully short. They come to grief in all manner of ways and can end their days in branches or snags above and below the waterline. The last thing you want to do is to spend hours agonizing over the detail of a fly and then hang the damned thing up on a branch on your very fist back cast.

Personally, I like my flies to be just a little ugly which is just as well because that is how they tend to turn out. I also like flies that can be quick to tie up and for the materials used in their construction to be cheap and easily sourced. This all helps to ensure that their inevitable demise does not result in a prolonged period of mourning.

Here are three flies I tied up yesterday afternoon. Each is uglier than the other two. If you are on the judging panel of the fly tying competition this might be a good time to look away……..

This ridiculous-looking thing is intended to catch the eye of carp when they have their heads down.

This ridiculous-looking thing is intended to catch the eye of carp when they have their heads down.

This one is a little less flamboyant and perhaps more likely to be accepted by a barbel.

This one is a little less flamboyant and perhaps more likely to be accepted by a barbel.

This is a dry fly which looks like some fly which is having a pretty rough day. It looks like a bit of a mess but that is often the way drowned insects look too.

This is a dry fly which looks like it got out of the wrong side of the bed. It is a bit of a mess but that is often the way drowned insects look too.