Travel Tying

Photo by Gary Bulla

by Scott Sadil

I’m surprised by the snooty tone.

Seated at the big communal dining table on the open porch at Baja Joe’s, in La Ventana, Baja California Sur, I’ve just put the final touches on the simple baitfish pattern that seems to be doing the trick lately, getting clobbered by big dorado and roosterfish if you can land the fly just so, when a fellow at the far end of table, sipping a high-end mezcal, the new tropical weather Scotch in certain Baja fly angling circles, asks one of those questions that isn’t a question at all.  

 “An hour and you finally got one done?”

“Actually,” I correct him, “it’s the second.”

Sip: Even from my end of the table, I can hear the Espadín drawn through the fellow’s teeth. 

“You know you can buy those things for six bucks apiece,” he says, gesturing toward the stash of flies Gary Bulla leaves on a counter nearby, for sale to clients, payment on the honor system.  

“It’s not about the money,” I counter.


“Okay, I’ll bite:  So what is it about?”

I slip the fly into a 2” x 5” Uline plastic sleeve, perfect size for the flatiron herring we’ve been fishing over this week. 

C&F Design Marco Polo Fly Tying Tool Kit

“Good question.”  I squeeze another hook in the vise, give the eye a flick with a fingernail to make sure it’s secure.   “But you can be sure, it’s not about the money.”

Readers who keep an eye on these musings know that I’m an advocate of tying your own flies, a skill I find as much a part of fly fishing as lofting is a part of building boats.  You can get by without either skill.  But why would you want to miss out on all the fun?

I’m also a fan of tying flies while traveling, especially if I have enough time to sort out what the fish might be feeding on, and a pattern or two that offer the kind of impressionistic representation I find so intriguing, and which is usually all you need to fool your share of fish.