Jim Nielson on Flyfishing
Man, the Myth, the Legend. The catch of a lifetime for most of us is just
another day on the water for Jim Nielson. In this article, you will get a
special glimpse into the mind of a flyfishing legend, in his own words. You can
also receive personal tutelage from Jim most any day on the
There are but a handful of living legends in the world of flyfishing: Dave
Whitlock, Izaak Walton, and Lefty Kreh are members of this exclusive fraternity.
Georgia River Fishing has it's own sage of flyfishing knowledge in the
person of Jim Nielson. The one thing that sets Jim apart from the mere
mortals of the flyfishing world is that Jim is an innovator. He is always
looking for new methods and techniques to make the experience of flyfishing even
more successful and rewarding. And the best thing about Jim: He's a Giver. We
here at GRF reap the benefits of Jim's willingness to share his breakthroughs in
all aspects of flyfishing, and when Jim holds court on fishing-related topics,
we elbow and push one another, trying to get the best seat at the feet of the
master. Since my level of fishing mastery and communication skills are so
feeble, I will turn the floor over to Jim Nielson. Savor and cherish these words
from one of flyfishing's most brilliant minds...
epiphany on the art of flytying....
"I've come to the conclusion that only "sucks" use vises and have
decided to hand tie flies from now on. Tied up my first last night, a Woolly
Bugger, and surprisingly, did so in 3 hours and 37 minutes flat. Would have tied
some more but had a hard time stopping the bleeding - figure it might be a good
idea to wait until my fingers heal. Being very proud of myself I showed it to my
wife. I could tell by the look on her face that she was mightily impressed,
mumbled what I believe was "is the cat doing that again?" Not sure
what she meant but I'm sure it was intended as a compliment."
"Heard about a guy in Minnesota who routinely ties with fleece lined leather
hunting mittens. Does a lot of winter fishing and says it comes in handy at
stream side for matching the afternoon midge hatches. Seems like a pretty good
idea and when I get this bare handed tying thing down pat in the next couple
weeks I may give his technique a shot - suspect it should be a pretty simple
Nielson's brilliant mind
solves a common fly vest dilemma...
"During my hiatus from fly tying as I waited for my hands to heal from injuries
incurred during my viseless tying period, I had a fair amount of time to ponder
how I can make a lasting contribution to this pastime that has given me so much
pleasure over the years. A new pattern (Jim's Mojo Magic), presentation
technique (The Nielson Lift), a book (Bass Fishing for Bonefish for Boneheads)
are pretty humdrum aspirations as far as I'm concerned - I wanted something
more. Well I finally came up with it, The Hard Bodied Fishing Vest (HBFV
"I don't have all the details worked out yet but I'm not going to let that keep
me from starting this weekend on the prototype. The basic concept will be for me
saturate my vest with a couple thick coats of two part epoxy to form a rigid
structure. Obviously I've got to find a way to keep the pockets open during the
curing period and I've got to decide how to handle the zippers and flaps but I'm
sure I'll figure that out once I get rolling."
"Now some of you skeptics out there are thinking "How in the world does this
idiot think he's going to get in and out of his vest?" Well I've got one
word for you smarty-pants, "Hinges and Fasteners." Those medieval
knights were able to get in and out of their armor this way and if it worked for
them it will work for me."
"But then some shortsighted others of you will ask, "Why would anyone in
their right mind want a HBFV? Won't it be too heavy? What colors will it come
in?" If you have to ask those questions it's obvious you're not a fly
"As to the "Why" of the HBFV: first of all it stands up, When nature
calls and you've got to get your vest off fast to get your waders down, it'll
set down upright - no more of your crap will fall out of your pockets that you
left unfastened. I'm figuring that alone is going to save you up to a $850/year
on lost flyboxes, gadgets and gear lost streamside. That should get you thinking
so I'll not bother you with further explanations."
"Heavy? Yes, but that's a relative shortcoming. Any fly fisherman worth his salt
is already toting about 78 lbs of gear in his vest. The couple extra pounds
resulting from the epoxy won't even be noticed."
"I'm already working on a couple of optional features to enhance the
functionality of the HBFV. I envision the most popular will be the "Bolt On
Cup Holder" That's going to solve the age old angling problem of your open
beer bottle/can either falling out of your vest pocket or slipping down in to
same and soaking your gear. The other will be the "Bolt On Multiple Rod
Holder." Many flyfishermen, like myself, have been limited to the number of
lines we can keep in the water at one time to only 3 or 4. With the rod holder
we'll now be able to fish as many 10 lines simultaneously. Of course, we'll be
fishing rods of varying lengths and lines of varying sink rates but you can
easily visualize the advantage we'll have."
"So that's it for now, I've got to get to Walmart and buy about 30 tubes of
Epoxy so I can get started on my first coat. I'll keep you updated on my
progress. And please, keep this under your hat as I'd like to keep the Simms,
Orvis, Filson, et al guys from getting wise to this before I figure it out."
on stream entomology, specifically the excitement in river smallmouth circles
surrounding this year's reemergence of the 17-Year Cicada....
"Can't find the 1987 cicada box so I said to myself: Jim, why spend your time
figuring out a pattern and then straining your eyes tying it just to find it
won't even fool the dullest smallmouth in the river? And then it struck me -
"I'm thinking I can borrow or steal The General's badminton
racket (the Bangkok
Police still have mine in their evidence room but that's another story and if
you hear her tell it, believe me, it's a lie) and stun a bunch of those rascals.
Then on the river all I have to do is pull one out and superglue it to top of
the hook. I figure 10-15 seconds and you're ready to fish!"
"Now some of you guys out there have a tough time keeping your red
the tip of your fly and are probably saying to yourself: "this is just
another one of Nielson's hairbrained ideas." But I'm telling you, you won't
fling it off no matter how bad your cast is - that SUPERGLUE is some tough
"Yes, still details to work out: What type hook (I'm already thinking Stinger,
2), containers, feeding, and probably a few other things I haven't figured out
yet but I'm sure I can."
"Those of you that are with me on this see the obvious potential here: Hoppers,
caddis, damsels, big fat mayflies, beetles, inch worms, any number of nymphs and
small baitfish (although I'm thinking I'll need something different then the badminton
racket - all that water probably isn't too good for the gut strings)
ought to be easily SUPERGLUED to the appropriate size hook."
"So thanks Bingo for bringing this up. If this works out like I think it will, I
won't be needing my vise for some time to come, if ever again."
I have seen Michael Jordan play basketball, Jack Nicklaus win at Augusta, and
Herschel Walker run the football. I have also fished with Jim Nielson. My life