Ray Ford holding samples of his hand tied flies at the Lone Butte Craft Fair. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Ray Ford holding samples of his hand tied flies at the Lone Butte Craft Fair. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Local hooked on tying flies

Ray Ford loves handcrafting fly ties

Ray Ford’s hand-crafted fishing flies are a technical and artistic marvel.

Carefully researched and crafted to fool the fish, the flies, dyed in rich hues of red, fuchsia, deep purple, black, and yellows, are highly realistic.

“There’s a real science to tying flies,” said Ford, who got into the craft during the pandemic and finds it suits him because “it brings out the artsy, fartsy side of me.”

Fly-tying is not a new skill set for Ford, who 25 years ago tied commercial flies for 10 shops in the Lower Mainland. His largest order for one shop was 8,000 flies – he ties approximately two dozen flies an hour.

He found himself hooked on the art of fly-tying when his former business crashed and his wife encouraged him to start selling flies here in the Cariboo.

It’s not as easy as it looks. Ford said those wanting to tie flies must have an understanding of how the different colors of the sun penetrate the different types of lakes. The composition of the lake is also essential because the idea is to understand what the fish actually see when a fly enters the water.

Ford uses marabou – special rabbit fur – in the tail of the flies and dyes it himself, creating all his colours from the ground up. The commercial water-soluble dye used by many fly-makers starts losing its color after a few casts so he uses an acid-based dye, which retains the vibrancy.

He showed off his skills last Saturday at the Lone Butte Craft Fair.

Some of the other vendors included Watkins, Epicure, handmade crafts and housewares, hand-crafted candles and an eclectic mix of flea market items.

The next craft fair is June 11 at the Lone Butte-Horse Lake Community Hall.



fiona.grisswell@100milefreepress.net

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