Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Naming of Things or the Psychology of the Tyer's Art

At some point in their lives, all men contemplate and fear death. Perhaps more to the point, we fear not being remembered after we die. In the male collective unconscious, a far worse scenario than the pain of our final moments, is dying without having made our mark, without leaving our legacy. Undoubtedly, this is why so many of us choose to name our sons after ourselves. From the moment of our birth we may be doomed, but some small part of us will live on in our boys, and then in their sons, and so on - ad infinitum. This gives us hope where there might otherwise be none. So it is with bug chuckers.

Consider the propensity of fly tyers for naming their creations after themselves. Most any man who ties with some frequency and perhaps just a hint of passion will eventually open the jaws of his vise, allow the fly he's painstakingly tied to drop into his waiting palm, carefully study its proportions and color, and in a fit of triumph declare it his minnow, his bugger, his caddis, his stonefly. We've all done it.

And yes, this phenomenon is limited - by and large - to men. 

Recognize the following flies?

It's a safe bet that these two patterns are found in every fly shop in the country, if not every fly shop on the globe. On the left we have Dave's Hopper, as tied by its progenitor, Dave Whitlock. On the right is the ubiquitous Clouser Minnow, first tied by none other than Bob Clouser. I'm sure my readers have at least a few of each fly in their boxes. With hooks, thread, and bits of hair, both Whitlock and Clouser made an indelible impression on our sport. Even when they're gone - and I hope they've both long and fruitful lives - they will live on through their contributions to the contemplative sport.

Now consider another fly.

Recognize the pattern and its originator? Sure you do. What self respecting bug chucker doesn't recognize the Gray Ghost? Once more, we know the ghost is a Carrie Stevens pattern as much for the particular style of tying as for the fly's recipe. What amazes me is that Stevens didn't attach her name to what is arguably her most famous creation. Why?

Again, I would argue that men feel required to attach their names to flies out of the need for a legacy. Men need recognition. Men need to hear they've done their jobs well. Men need a collective pat on the back. Ask any woman whose significant other thinks himself a sexual dynamo.

And while I don't pretend to understand women at all - not even my wife, to whom I've been attached for nearly twenty years - it seems to me that women haven't the same requirements as men. I think women enjoy recognition. I think women want to hear that they've done well. I just don't think that women need that pat on the back. Women are much more pragmatic. Carrie Stevens didn't care if people were buying her flies because those flies bore her name. She was just happy to sell her flies. 

Of course, some might argue that tyers name their creations after themselves for marketing purposes.

More on that soon ...

1 comment:

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Good post but..... nobody named Hendrickson tied that fly. It was named after him. Legend has it that Gordon didn't name that fly the Quill Gordon or the Gordon Quill (as it was first called). That was done for him. A guy named Flick never attached his name to the patterns that he developed. If "Flick" was attached to a fly it was done by his admirers. Ed Hewitt created the Brown Bivisible and the Neversink Skater and even the owner of that outsized ego wouldn't tag one of his creations with his surname. Nobody named Muddler or Bugger ever created a fly!

It works both ways!!