Sitting at his desk, his deft twists of the bobbin seem effortless. He’s been tying flies since 1978.
His favourite Atlantic Salmon fly? Well, that’s Bruce Andrews’s secret. It’s a personal pattern that incorporates parts of other well-known salmon hooks. It has rusty orange and black colours to it. That’s as much as he’s going to divulge.
Instead, the Grand Falls-Windsor angler is sharing an old standard that has a lot of meaning for him – the Black Silvertip.
It’s the very first pattern he learned to tie and he still uses it to this day.
“It is the type of fly that works on any river,” he says.
With just a silver tag – Mylar tinsel – near the curve of the hook, three-ply black Phentex wool for the body and moose hair wing, there’s beauty in simplicity. The process is completed in minutes. A few half-hitches to secure the head before adding cement to stick it together. A final tug of the wing to make sure everything held tight, brings a look of satisfaction.
Away from the world, no noise, his dog Nugget at his side, “…there’s a tranquility to it,” he says of tying flies.
Andrews’s passion for fly tying started not long after he began fishing. He wanted to catch a salmon on a fly he tied himself. And in developing his craft, it has spun off into him tying for others.
But even that has seen a downturn because of a decline in the number of salmon anglers can keep and river closures because of low water and warm temperatures.
“This year I didn’t have to tie as many because of the rules and regulations,” he said. “In a normal year it’s between four and five thousand, this year I’ve had to tie about 1,500.”
Andrews said the regulations are the biggest source of problems.
The popularity of Atlantic Salmon Flies has caught the attention of the provincial government as well.
Aligning itself with the International Year of the Salmon, earlier this year the province announced a competition for fly tiers to designate a provincial fly that best illustrates the theme of Salmon Conservation and Angling in Newfoundland and Labrador.
According to engageNL the winner was set to be announced May 31, however, there could be delays as a result of a provincial election.
Andrews is one of the judges.
“I have never entered any competitions myself, but I’m all too happy to be a part of it,” he said.
And he’s looking forward to seeing what anglers come up with.