Nearly every time I head to #FlyTying on Instagram in search of some inspiration for my time in front of my vise, I find myself drawn to one page in particular at the moment, @EricHurst. Eric is a guide and fly tyer out of the American Southeast, and he ties up some of the more creative, and well-photographed streamers we’ve seen recently. Eric blends natural and synthetic materials creating imaginative and effective patterns. We caught up with Eric to chat about his tying style and process, and what keeps his creative tying juices flowing. Check it out below!
Flylords: Tell us a little bit about yourself, Eric.
Eric: My name is Eric Hurst. I’m a full-time fly tyer and fly fishing guide in Georgia. Always on the hunt for a good time and a couple of fish.
Flylords: When did you tie your first fly? What pattern was it?
Eric: I’ve been around fishing lures and flies a lot in my growing up. I was always fascinated with shiny baitfish patterns and lures in my dad’s tackle boxes. I use to play in his tackle boxes and try to create my own takes on patterns so I guess you could say that’s where it all began. I began to hone my skills on the classics like Clouser minnows and wooly buggers. I just love the art of fly tying and creating something to catch things we have no control over with natural and synthetic materials.
Flylords: What was the first fish you caught on your own tie?
Eric: First fish for me on my own fly would have to be the lean mean fighting machine: bream (sunfish).
Flylords: What is your favorite pattern to tie these days?
Eric: My favorite fly to tie is a loaded question. There are so many that come to mind depending on the situation. Kelly’s Sex Dungeon and Boogie Man always get it done. I’m really inspired by Andreas Anderson’s pattern designs also. The list can go on forever. Really just depends on what I’m hunting for. Basically, anything big and articulated is my go too. I like to throw and strip the fun stuff that looks like it came from Toys-R-Us.
Flylords: What draws you to fly tying and fly design?
Eric: The things that draw me to fly tying and design are: definitely the art of it. I’ve always been into drawing and creating things out of found objects. It’s so exciting taking random fly tying materials and manipulating them on a hook and finding the balance of the materials and how they swim and hold water to create something that gets aggressive strikes from wild creatures. When I’m not on the water I’m always on the vise turning out flies to test. I really enjoy the process of trial and error with fly tying. There’s so much involved to get the right action and that intrigues me. Fly fishing and tying have taught me so much about patience.
Flylords: What is your process while designing and testing a new pattern?
Eric: My process with fly design and testing is mainly a lot of trial and error. Sometimes I know what I’m going to tie before I sit down at the vise and sometimes I like to challenge myself with picking certain materials that I don’t use often and try and make something happen. Win, lose or draw. For every good fly, there are multiple bad ones, never give up and keep grinding. The fish will let you know when you’ve got it dialed-in.
Flylords: How do you select materials to get different movement in your patterns?
Eric: I select materials to get the most movement by looking for material that don’t hold a lot of water when casting. A lot of getting the right movement is using less and balancing the materials in the right way instead of over tying a fly. The fewer materials you can use and still get a good profile, the better. Lighter hooks and materials on the rear hook combined with heavier and thicker materials on the front hooks always get the fly dancing more in the water. There are so many materials on the market and more coming out all the time. I always look back at the classics and mix in the new materials as best I can.
Flylords: What do you think is the most important aspect of a trout streamer?
Eric: The most important aspect of a trout streamer to me is: Color, action, and profile. I always want my trout streamers to dance like dirty dancing, fight like the last boss in a video game and walk the runway in fashion week. You’re trying to make it like appetizing or piss something off so it’s just finding the right balance of both worlds to me.
Flylords: Do you have any advice for anglers looking to get into fly tying?
Eric: My advice for people wanting to get into tying is to start basic and really study the materials and patterns. A lot of the big-name tyers put in a lot of work and have it dialed. We are lucky to live in a world with the Internet and books about different methods of fishing and tying. If you can get stoked from reading and looking at patterns, then it’s time to get into tying.
The most intimidating thing for me when I got into tying was all the material you need to tie different patterns. So the best thing is to start with simple patterns that only need maybe three materials and then the next thing you know you have a whole arsenal and can tie almost any pattern. Also, don’t be afraid to use other materials when your tying or trying to learn other people’s flies. There’s a lot of materials that have the same motion in water just play around and have fun.
Flylords: What’s next for Eric Hurst in 2021?
Eric: For me, the future is always more traveling and fishing/tying with new homies. I’ve learned so much from just getting out and meeting people doing the same thing. Sharing knowledge and growing with people doing the same thing. Guiding has also brought new exciting people into my life so I’ll keep grinding and learning.
Flylords: Where can people find your work and flies?
Eric: As of right now Instagram is the best place to find my work and communicate with me. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll get into some more tying videos and maybe link up with some companies and try to get my patterns in stores.