Fly Tying Interview with James Spicer


It has been a little over a year since we started carrying fly tying materials. During that time, we have learned just how intricate and time-consuming fly tying can be, and how much patience it takes to master. After launching our very first Fly Tying Month this past March, we are even more eager to learn, so we decided to interview a master fly tyer. We sought out our partner, James Spicer from InTheRiffle, to learn more about his fly tying journey. Enjoy the Q&A!

How did you learn to tie flies?
My uncle started me off with a basic fly tying kit in the late 80s. From there, I have really taught myself. In my early years, Magazines had a large influence on me. I remember flipping through Fly Tyer and Fly Fisherman Magazines, just to study the flies and see the step by step tutorials. But the reality is that practice and tying a lot was the best way to learn.

When did you start tying?
Sometime in the late 80s-early 90s. Not really sure. I was probably around 8 or 9 when my uncle bought me the fly tying kit. It was pretty basic and it only had a dozen or so materials in it. But that is how it started!

What was the first fly you tied?
I remember tying a lot of Pheasant Tails and Humpys. Not sure which was first, but needless to say…they were a bit rough. They looked more like something out of your lint trap than an actual fly.

What fly, that you tied, did you catch your first fish on?
Not sure to be honest. I am pretty sure a bluegill fell for one those early “lint” creations. My guess would be a yellow Humpy.

How many flies do you think you have tied?
In the thousands I am sure. I have been tying for almost 25 years, but have never really counted.

What is your favorite pattern to tie? Your least favorite?
I really like to tie bonefish flies. Not sure why. Guess it is something I do not get to do very much. So when I do tie them, it is usually for fun. I would say my least favorite is anything with deer hair. I find it very rewarding to tie a good spun deer hair fly, but the work and the mess to get there is not fun for me.

Tell us about the flies you have designed and how/why you came up with them.
I think the first one I stamped my name on is the Common Craw. It is a carp fly for the South Platte in Denver. I really designed it out of need. I needed a small and compact pattern that sank fast. There are situations on that river, where the fly needs to get down quick and get in front of the fish without spooking it. I kind of blended my other favorite fly (the Thinmint), with some Clouser style eyes and some pine squirrel. And that is where it ended up.


Recently there has been a few others. The Runt Stone, Tron Emerger and Hood Rat. I like to keep things simple and not lash a bunch of materials to the hook and call it a fly. Most of them all have influence from some other patterns before it, but still different from what is already out there.

Learn how to tie a Tron Emerger
The Tron Emerger

How many flies can you turn out in one sitting?
I usually tie a couple dozen a sitting. Much more than that and my eyes start to strain. I try not to over do it and only tie a few per sitting. Sometimes as few as 6, then I come back to it later.

What are your favorite fly tying tools?:
Bobbin – Tiemco Standard Ceramic Tube
Scissors – Dr. Slick All Purpose Scissors
Vise – Regal Medallion C-Clamp
Whip Finisher – Dr. Slick 6 Inch Long Reach Whip Finisher

Thanks for reading and learning about James Spicer from InTheRiffle with us! If you are looking for videos on how to tie different patterns, check out our fly pattern quick list where we feature James’ videos. If you need fly tying materials or tools, head on over to and see what we’ve got!

“Charge yourself, plug into the outdoors.”

Curt @ AvidMax

Leave a Reply