It's at these times at the vise when we may try to tie up a new pattern. Either we've had ideas about how to improve a fly we carry in our box, or we've got a theory for an entirely new pattern all together, a little experimenting is good. In this case, some tying supplies may be needed & we might just be using some materials we've never tried before. Maybe you've been using a particular type, or brand, of a specific material & it can no longer be found these days? This, too will have you trying out a new brand or material all together.
Okay, so you've made your new pattern (or old reliable one with a different brand or type of material). It looks good, too & might just catch you some fish this year. Before you put those flies in the box for next season - & especially before you tie up a few dozen of them - you should stop & take some time to be sure they are what you think they are.
Here's what I recommend you do with every new fly pattern or material use before you use them in fishing:
-Fill a transparent glass or bowl with water. You can use the sink, but you won't easily be able to see underneath the fly.
-Make sure you use cold water, as cold as you can - like it is in the stream.
-Drop your new flies onto / into the water. If you're testing a dry fly be sure to treat it with the floatant you use in your fishing. Observe how they look right after they've come in contact with the water.
-Let them soak (or float) for about 30 minutes.
-Look at them again, but now be very thorough. Look at them from all angles. If they have shiny or flashy parts, shine a flashlight on them from different angles to see how they reflect the light.
-Dry them off & give them another good inspection.
I do this myself because I've been surprised at what I've found. There have been a few patterns I've tied that were to have a specific effect in the water. At the vise these flies looked like they would do the trick, but I found that the effect was lost when they hit the water.
I also like to experiment with different feathers & fur. You can imagine my dismay when some of my experimental materials actually changed color when wet!! If you're tying up an old favorite pattern with a new brand or type of material, this little test will also help you to compare the new stuff with what you've been using for years.
If at any step in this test something doesn't work the way you hoped, you can change your material or approach before you've tied a ton of patterns, or worse, before you get to the stream & get skunked, leaving you to believe that your theory was hogwash when in fact it's just some material playing tricks on you.
Obviously the fish have the final word on any pattern you tie, but doing this little test could save you a lot of frustration & confusion in the end.