Gordon van der Spuy, an interesting character – inter alia – entertainer, eccentric, enigmatic, inimitable, studious, friendly and generous. But, for purposes of this post flyfisher and skilled fly tyer. I have always been taken by Gordon’s depth of understanding, approach to fly tying and his inimitable style of imparting these skills to others. But, perhaps most of all I have been fascinated by his development with the tying of classical salmon flies. I asked him to write a short piece on his journey. This is what he had to say and a few pictures of his beautiful flies
Its easy, this is all you have to do!
“I guess I’m a flytyer who fishes. I have always been intrigued by the flies themselves and have spent a large part of my life figuring it out so to speak. When I first started tying in 1995 I didn’t have a vice, my first year of tying was done in hand. My first fly consisted of some dog hair, an old carp hook, sewing thread and a liberal dollop of bostick! It was horrendous but caught me fish nevertheless and that’s how I got hooked. I have been playing with feathers and hooks ever since
Two years ago I set myself the challenge to tie a fully dressed classic salmon fly. Two years later I’m still at it. The more I learn the less I realise I know, but I have discovered that if you seek you shall find and if you put the effort in you’ll reap the rewards. What I like about dressing Salmon flies is the challenge involved. They are not easy to tie, they’re not impossible either, but they take plenty of patience and dedication to really tie well. I’m tying a Baron at the moment that I just can’t get winged, I’ve spent a total of about 4 hours on this wing and I still haven’t got it right – dressing salmons is thus a humbling pursuit I’m still fairly new to this and have met a few good friends who have been a great help to me. Murray Peddar got me started and now I have a mentor who is a genius with these things. Ruhan Neethling is what I like to term a ‘special’ tyer – a natural. I’ve learnt a lot from him, not only about physically tying these flies but also about the psychology behind it. Tying salmon flies is like life; you need to be in the moment for it to work out. I can’t dress these things when I’m not in the mood, its weird but that’s how it is. A lot of focus is required to get it right. Salmon flies are all about the pursuit of perfection, perfection that rarely, if ever is achieved. That is the drug that keeps salmon tyers going.
My latest Jock Scott
The Green Highlander
Every now and then I take a break from tying and then I enjoy flinging delicate dry flies to small stream trout. I love getting lost in the moment when I’m on a stream. It is therapy for me. I’m not the greatest fisherman out there. I have fished with guys like Tim Rolston and Tom Sutcliffe to realise this. These guys have put in the work and fish weekly, multiple times most weeks. I guess I just enjoy flyfishing in general and all that goes with it. I like beautiful things, I like the idea of crafting ones own tackle and flies and I like taking it slow and just chilling out. Fishing or tying should never be a rushed affair, well, that just how I feel about it.
I also enjoy teaching tying, there is a lot of detail that books and DVDs can’t cover. I don’t believe in teaching people to tie patterns, I believe in equipping them with the skills they need to cover a wide range of applications. Form follows function, sort what the pattern needs to do for you first and the aesthetics will sort themselves out.”
The Silver Grey
Gordon runs fly tying clinics at most of the major cities around SA from beginner to advanced level, concentrating on imparting his skills in small groups to give personal attention to the participants. Anyone interested can contact Gordon by email at firstname.lastname@example.org