Welcome to our new Featured Fly Tyer series where we highlight tyers around the world using their creativity to catch us all more fish! This time we sit down with Brita Fordice (Instagram: @SeaFly907), to chat about why she ties and where her creative patterns and tying talents have brought her.
Flylords: When did you tie your first fly? What pattern was it?
Brita: I tied my first fly at 10, and it was the ugliest version of a Winter’s Hope steelhead fly ever. All I had to teach myself to tie was Deke Meyer’s Advanced Fly Fishing for Steelhead book to go by…. And fast forward 7 years and I made one of the bigger mistakes by getting a tattoo of a Winter’s Hope on my stomach. Let’s just say that they should outlaw all stomach tattoos on women. What started as a #2 became a 2/0 and then went back to like a #1 hook size after my daughter. Now it looks more similar to a colorful bird poop on my stomach.
Flylords: What was the first fish you caught on your own tie?
Brita: I caught a 9” Dolly Varden on a woolly bugger in front of our family place on the Stillaguamish River and I felt like the king of the world.
Flylords: What is your favorite pattern to tie these days?
Brita: Shrimp. I love them. I can (and do) spend hours looking at photos of both the live versions and flies others have tied to mimic them. There’s something so fun about the materials used for shrimp, and it’s a challenge to find materials that are truly transparent that still mimic the movement needed.
Flylords: What drew you to the saltwater side of fly tying?
Brita: The size. Any pattern that doesn’t take up a large portion of my palm bores me. I am aware that very large fish eat very small flies…. I just don’t get much enjoyment out of tying small nymphs and dries. Saltwater patterns are fun because one pattern can be used in multiple bodies of water in many countries around the world for multiple species.
Flylords: What draws you to fly tying and fly design?
Brita: It’s always come easy for me and I’ve always loved it. Five+ years ago when Instagram became a thing and I was trying to get my name out as a guide I knew I needed to get attention via the site somehow.… And while other females know they can post pictures of themselves fishing to gain traction, I knew that one day I’d be old and ugly, so I needed to find a way to prove that I am a guide that is worth more than just a person to take you fishing. I decided I would focus on my tying for that, and it has paid off in the end.
Flylords: What is your process while designing and testing a new pattern?
Brita: I start with the real-life form. I will google search “baitfish” or “shrimp” and find a real-life version of something that I haven’t seen in fly form done well before. I then watch videos of the fish or shrimp in the water on youtube. Then I tie one up. I’ll swim it in my swim tank to confirm it rides right too. There are many times I’ve found that patterns look amazing but don’t follow the “form follows function” rule. So I always swim a fly before I post it or fish it.
Flylords: How does fly tying affect your lifestyle?
Brita: It has gotten me invited on more fishing trips than I normally would have. Every time I fish Puget Sound on a day I’m not guiding I still get excited and tie up multiple new flies to test on the fish. It becomes the running joke on the boat that ‘“ADHD Brita” is switching out flies again’ because I’ll land a fish, say “that fly works” and switch to another fly to try. So as for affecting my lifestyle, I guess you could say that it has made me get more enjoyment out of watching fish get fooled by my patterns than actually hooking the fish myself. Which is why I love guiding as well, as it allows me to force others to be my sacrificial lambs and land fish on my flies for me. Which I love to see.
Flylords: Do you have any advice for new tyers or anglers looking to pick it up?
Brita: If you’re thinking of getting into it to save money you picked the wrong hobby. Next, think of what fish species you fish the most and whether you enjoy streamer fishing or dry fly fishing most. Only purchase the materials for streamers or for dries initially. Because the materials don’t always transfer over, and you’ll spend hundreds if you try and do both at once. And most importantly, take a class. This will save you the most money initially.
Flylords: What is your favorite material to tie with?
Brita: I love shrimp eyes. I go through more shrimp eyes than any human should in a given month. I love making my own in fun colors as well.
Flylords: How do you decide what materials to use in each creation?
Brita: This depends solely on the fly. Many saltwater patterns require materials that shed water quickly to eliminate weight, and others necessitate weight on one side to counteract the fluffiness. It’s a middle school equivalent Physics class with every fly I tie some days…
Flylords: Your mantis shrimp flies are so detailed, how long does it take to tie one of those?
Brita: That one takes me about 35 minutes to tie and another 20 to color. And I giggle the entire time because they are the most fun flies ever. And they are the most badass creature in the entire universe in my opinion, so the time spent is worth it.
Flylords: What is next for Brita Fordice in 2019?
Brita: That’s a tough one. I am going to continue to design patterns for RIO Products and tie flies and guide on my days off. Life is good 🙂