Rob Dunnett of Brewer casts a fly toward the shore of the Penobscot River during a recent late-summer bass-fishing trip. Some call the Penobscot a world class smallmouth bass water, but there weren't any anglers other anglers in sight on this mid-September day. Credit: John Holyoke

Tying your own fishing flies can be a fun way to spend the winter hours, while you’re dreaming of warmer weather and the chance to try those flies out.

Today’s quick-and-dirty guide features local tier Rob Dunnett, who works out of Annika Rod & Fly Learning Center in Brewer.

My challenge to Dunnett: Tie me a fly as fast as you can.

He did that, and narrated the process for good measure.

Dunnett chose to tie “the spunky,” a fly that can be easily completed for one key reason: It consists of just a couple of materials: green chenille and red yarn.

“The spunky is a variation of the maple syrup, which is a trout and salmon fly,” Dunnett said. “It’s one that’s going to be fished on the swing. You’re going to cast it downstream, at like a 45-degree angle, and let it go with the current, then strip it back. It’s going to be fished below the surface.”

Dunnett lived up to the quick-and-dirty mantra, as he completed his fly in just over 90 seconds. And it could have been even quicker if he hadn’t been so thorough. He wrapped two layers of chenille to make it fatter and more irresistible to a hungry fish.

While Dunnett’s effort certainly demystifies the tying process, he said that not all fly patterns are nearly as simple or easy.

In fact, some fly patterns might take hours to complete.

“If you’re a new tier and you’re going to tie a fly like the gray ghost, you’re going to be a half an hour, up to 45 minutes from wrapping the body properly to putting all the steps on,” Dunnett said. “We had Ed Muzeroll, a classic Atlantic salmon tier, come up to teach a class. It was an all-day class, and they tied one fly. There was a break for lunch, but it was an eight-hour day. There was a lot of learning of what to do with the materials, but it took all day to get one fly done.”

John Holyoke

John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their...