My interview In the Loop Fly Fishing Magazine.
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Fly Tyer Spotlight: Barry Ord Clarke
Barry Ord Clarke is one of the most prolific and innovative fly tyers on the planet. And he has dedicated his life to teaching others the fine art of tying flies that fun to tie and that catch fish. We’ve sat down with Barry for a talk about his passion for fly tying and how it all started.
How did you get into fly tying?
While working in London in the early 80s as an advertising photographer, I met a Scottish fly tyer and taxidermist who asked if I could photograph some of his flies and fish, for a brochure.
Having a fine art education in classic arts and crafts, I was totally enchanted by his fully dressed salmon flies. So I asked if he would teach me to tie them, in exchange for me doing the photography. I learned to tie fully dressed classic salmon flies before I started fly fishing…The rest is history.
What is it about fly tying that you like so much?
Through fly tying, the fly fisherman has the opportunity to relate much better to their quarry and gain a greater understanding of their lifestyle and behavior. You can open previously locked doors, and enter a whole new world of your sport, customising existing patterns, to your own specific requirements, and even designing your own. Once the basic techniques are mastered, the only restriction remaining for your fly tying creativity, are the limits of your own imagination.
What kind of flies do you most enjoy to tie and why?
What are the most important/determining factors when you design a new fly pattern?
That it’s quick to tie, not difficult to source materials used, less is more and last but not least… that it catches fish.
How do you split your time between fly tying and fly fishing?
I work full time as a fly tying photographer and author, so I tie flies, photograph them and write about them 40 hours a week, so if I have time to fish, I do…
What’s your favourite fish species to catch and why?
Sea trout. Perhaps the thing I find most beguiling about sea trout fishing is its sheer unpredictability. One shouldn’t forget that these are brown trout with the lifestyle and habits of the salmon – our two most celebrated game fish rolled into one – combining the best of both species, and all of the capriciousness of both.
Which home waters do you most frequently fish?
My wife and I, have a cottage on a small Island in the Oslo Fjord, where I have fished for sea trout, all year round, for over 30 years.
What’s your all-time favourite fly and why?
The one that catches fish on the day.
Are there any specific fly tyers that have influenced and inspired you over the years?
Every single one, from all the greats to the new beginners. I am still learning from them all. I am for ever inspired and humbled by their creativity, ingenuity, and skills
You’ve recently won Fly Tyer Magazine’s “Fly Tyer of the Year” Award. What does the recognition mean to you?
Being recognized with such a great honor, for something that you are so passionate about means the world to me! Not only, that it was the readers of the largest fly tying magazine in the world, who voted me “Fly Tyer of the Year” but that this is a United States based magazine, where there are more, great and talented fly tyers than anywhere else in the world! What more can I say…
You’ve released several books about fly tying. Do you have any new projects coming up?
Digital media has become the forefront for fly tying in recent years. But fortunately, there is still a healthy market for the printed word when it comes to fly tying. I am working on a new book project ‘ The Ultimate Guide To Tying and Techniques with Deer Hair’.
This will be a monolith of a book, that covers every single type of deer hair in the world.
Each hair photographed to scale and in great detail. This will allow the tyer to study each hairs natural length, colour, texture, natural history… and all the other key factors of each hair type. Along with 50 deer hair step by step patterns that will cover the most relevant techniques for each material.
What are you ambitions and future aspirations as a fly tyer?
Making fly tying easier to learn than ever before…
Although most fly tyers have learned fly tying from books, it has always been a problem that in between each step-by-step image there is something happening/missing, that the fly tyer doesn’t see! This can not only make things difficult to follow, but in many cases, can also result in failure.
In my two most recent books ‘Fly Tying for Beginner’s’ & ‘The Feather Benders Fly Tying Techniques’ I have successfully managed to combine both printed and digital mediums. Through supplementing, the traditional step by step images, with a QR code for every pattern and technique in the book. This enables the reader to scan the QR code with their mobile or tablet device and watch me tie every pattern online, before they commence to follow the step by steps in the book. Hence, I reveal all the tricks and techniques in 4G video. Learning fly tying has never been easier…