Progress and development in fly tying (aside from the really ground-breaking stuff) resembles the pirate-minded bootlegging of the post-modern bastardized-pop world of digital music. Mashups, smashups, cutups, and boots, are tracks that combine the rythym and vocals of different pop songs to create new, Frankenstein-ed creations. Some love them, some hate them, but it seems they're here to stay.
(Here is a fine example of a mash up for those of you who may not have noticed this under-the-radar, barely legal form of music making:
"Tender Umbrella," Party Ben, Rihanna vs. General Public
If you'd like to learn more about mashups, www.bootiesf.com is a great place to get acquainted with them.)
Hot "new" flies are most often mashups, the result of modern artists combining fly patterns new and old, or elements of them, to create something else to toss into the drift.
And so the analogy is drawn; tyers of new and modern flies blend tying techniques, color, proportion, design, and materials in the same way digital DJs mix beats, vocals, riffs, and genres to push things forward.
The Original Bootleg Fly: Lefty vs. Bob, the Half and Half
The Half & Half: Just like rich Guinness Stout and crisp Harp Lager at your favorite Irish pub, right? Well, not exactly, but the Clouser/Kreh Half & Half is similarly designed and is perhaps the original mashup of the modern fly tying world.
By ingeniously combining two of the most effective baitfish fly patterns in the history of saltwater fly fishing (a little Clouser Minnow on top, a little Lefty’s Deceiver on bottom), Bob Clouser and Lefty Kreh created a bootleg "Super Fly" and may have stumbled upon one of the most incredible Frankenstein flies a surf-cruising striped bass or ravenous blue will ever lay its eyes and lips on!
To be clear, making a comparison between musical mashups and bootleg flies should not in any way detract from the value of the progression of fly tying (or music).
It's simply a different way to think about the flies we tie.
In fact, I'd argue that, just as the greatest (and worst) tracks of the mashup world demonstrate, a lot goes into the understanding of how to create something new (and good) from something old.
Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com