Local fly tier uncovers the art in fishing

Published 12:32 am Sunday, November 9, 2008

“I’ve always loved to fish, it’s been one of my favorite things since I was little. When you catch a fish off of something you made, it’s like a really cool feeling,” said Layton Spiers of McNeill and ninth grader at Pearl River Central High School.

Practically born with fishing rod in hand, Spiers was destined to practice both the sport of fishing and the art of fly tying. Even at the age of six, Spiers proved his determination to discover the secrets of taking home “the big one.” He’s always fished, but three years ago, for no rhyme or reason (and perhaps thanks to his Uncle Buddy) his parents said he started tying his own flies. Now, he’s hooked!

For laymen not versed in vocabulary of the fisherman, a fly is used in same vein as bait. As different fish are attracted to different types of bait, flies can be made to resemble any number of creatures or bugs such as gnats, shrimp, crawfish, small fish, water rats, snakes, etc.

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Of course, similar flies can be purchased pre-made at any given bait shop but Spiers, like many other fly fisherman, know that true gratification only comes from hooking that tricky trout, bass or brim with bait you created with your own hands.

Being an all-American kid, with a full day of school and athletics – Spiers plays on his school’s basketball, football, and baseball teams – it’s puzzling how he finds the spare seconds for his favorite extra-curricular hobby, but he does. He says he manages to get in a couple of nights of fly tying each week, working from a small desk in his attic bedroom.

The addiction may be healthy but, like most other addictions, it still proves to be rather expensive. So, at least while Spiers is still in school, his fly fix is fed by his parents. Materials that have to be purchased include feathers, marabou, string, hooks of various sizes and paints – to name just a few. Tiny creatures, like gnats, involve no end of patience, steady hands and young eyes, or a magnifying glass. Spiers uses a vice to hold the little pieces so both of his hands are free to create.

He perfects each fly by working from fly tying “how to” books – recipes for the perfect fish food – but he alters and adapts each method to enhance the desired “look” – oh yes, it is an art form.

“His stuff looks just as good to me was the stuff you can buy. I think he’s done real well with it,” said Spiers’ mother. Tara and Raymond Spiers, his mother and father respectively, are very supportive of their son’s fishing and tying ventures. Along with his two brothers, the entire family of five nourishes the fly tying frenzy with annual fishing trips to Missouri.

Spiers prefers to fish in the Missouri State Park, but he also does a little fly fishing closer to home. Using a nine foot fly rod, waders and flies he calls “poppers,” Hobolochitto creek makes the perfect spot for catching brim and small bass. He also likes Stump Lagoon, a shallow lake located in Hopedale, La.

Like most fisherman, Spiers dares to dream of bigger adventures and, most likely, bigger fish. (Do they all dream of that elusive Marlin?) Perhaps fly tying changes “the one that got away” to “the one that’s in the freezer,”and as he continues to hone his skills in the creative craft, who knows what tales of glory may be in store for this young fly fisher!