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Fly tyer shares secrets in new book

May 12, 2012
By MIKE LYNCH - Outdoors Writer ( , Lake Placid News

Rainbow Lake fly tyer Vince Wilcox has penned his first book.

The 252-page book is called "Vince Wilcox's Naturally Artificial Signature Flies" and was published by Lyons Press. It appeared in bookstores and for sale on the Internet in early April.

The book is geared toward fly fishermen and provides a step-by-step manual for tying flies Wilcox has created over the years. It is part of series put together by Fly Tyer Books.

Article Photos

Mike Lynch/Lake Placid News file photo
Vince Wilcox ties a fly in his Rainbow Lake shop in April 2010.

Wilcox, who owns Wiley's Flies in Rainbow Lake, is a signature tyer for Idylwilde Flies and has been since 2004. He's also an established magazine writer, with articles appearing in Fly Fisherman, Fly Tyer, Eastern Fly Fishing and American Angler, among others.

A native of Saranac Lake, Wilcox has been fishing in the Adirondacks since he was a child, but he's also fished throughout the U.S.

In 1995, he moved to Fort Collins, Colo. He then spent the next dozen years fishing the mountain streams and rivers of the Rocky Mountains. After a few seasons helping run a couple of different fly shops in Loveland and Fort Collins, he returned to the Adirondacks in February 2007.

Although he just opened the storefront a few years ago, Wiley's Flies has been in operation since 2003. Early on, he sold flies on the Internet and through other stores. Today, he continues to utilize the Internet for sales.

Wilcox said the concept for the book started about a decade ago.

"Officially, about seven years ago I already had that one done and I was trying to find a home for a much bigger project - full color and thousands of images," he said.

After pitching the idea with a couple of other publishing companies, Wilcox settled with Lyons Press. The fit was perfect because they were working with Fly Tyer on a series about creating flies.

The unique thing about this book is that it reveals Wilcox's methods for tying many of his best flies.

"In there are 25 of my signatures," Wilcox said. "Many of those were recipes and steps that hadn't really been released before, and it's a little unusual. There are only a few books out there that are really like that because most signature tyers don't want to give up the ideas and concepts behind what they are doing."

But Wilcox said he was comfortable sharing his secrets because he wanted people to learn from his experiences and be able to enjoy successful fishing.

"At the end of the day I catch more fish because of my flies," Wilcox said. "You want other people to be able to enjoy it and do that too."

Other people he said won't buy flies. They like to make them themselves. This will allow them to do that.

The book is broken into three sections: nymphs, dries and terrestrials. Each section contains chapters on individual flies.

The chapters start with a description of the fly. It includes how long the fly should take to create for beginners and experts, the best season to use it and the level of difficulty for making it.

Then, next to a color image of the fly is a description of the materials used to make it. That's followed by a short write-up detailing the history of the fly and how best to use it.

Finally, there is a step-by-step description of how to make the fly. The steps are very detailed. For instance, making the J.C. Special is listed as a 40-step process.

"The J.C. Special was a product of A.C. Caddis meets visually challenged angler," Wilcox writes in the J.C. Special chapter. "My longtime fishing partner and sounding board John Clark was having difficulty seeing the A.C. Caddis on the water. At his request I added a high-vis parachute. But he was also quite fond on the rubber legs I had incorporated into various other patterns and asked if I could add a set to the fly. Like any good fly tyer and fishing partner, I agreed to make a fly 'special' just for him.

"It wasn't long before this fly's reputation had spread around North America as a flat-out, go-to fly. What makes the J.C. Special a favorite is how easily it can be seen on the water. Maintaining its buoyancy in any water conditions even while being able to support a dropper doesn't hurt either."

Vince Wilcox's Naturally Artificial Signature Flies is available in many bookstores and can be found on the Internet at websites such as Locally, you can pick up a copy at his shop at 379 county Route 60 in Rainbow Lake. The book costs $29.95.



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