About 5 years ago, Warwick and I spent pretty much every Wednesday night around his fire pit in his backyard. Our mutual love for kakpraat, overly large fires, beer and other mood enhancers saw us spending many nights into the wee hours of the morning solving the worlds problems, while our lack of sleep on Thursday mornings probably caused a few problems..
Fast forward a few years, and after burning down a couple of forests in the backyard, Warwick and I were facing an upcoming Providence Atoll trip, and with Warwick’s newly renovated garage space being available, and a long list of flies needing to be tied, we decided on one of our regular Wednesday nights to be constructive for a change, and tie a few flies..
During the few proceeding months, the likes of the CPS Vice Squad evenings Tudor organized, and a couple informal tying nights at a few friends houses, had sparked the fire of communal group tying evenings… Like flyfishing itself, fly tying can be an amazing pursuit when done solo… but as with flyfishing, the opportunity to learn, and to share in the stoke, the moment, the highs and the lows, with friends can elevate the experience massively..
Enter The Haberdashery Massive – Whippet Wednesdays… A loose ( VERY ) collective of guys who gather every Wednesday night in Warwick’s garage to tie flies, talk a lot of shit, drink a fair amount of whiskey and generally have ourselves a damn good time around a table that looks like a bomb exploded in a Haberdashery store… well what you can see of it through the haze of smoke..
The beauty of these nights is that usually someone in the group is going on a trip, be it just a weekend mission, or a once in a lifetime trip to some incredibly remote atoll, so most nights there is some form of an objective for the evenings tying.. albeit a very loose one… but just as often its just chaos.. Some nights its feverish tying, with a huge amount of flies coming off the collective vices.. other nights we are lucky to get 3 flies tied between 10 guys.
Our group is a wickedly diverse one.. And the friendships that have been formed through it have been amazing. Of course the accompanying Whippet Wednesday WhatsApp group helps keep everyone in touch, and generally unproductive at work because of all the shit that gets shared on there.. about 10% of it flyfishing based.. the rest is usually made up of Nic’s crazy Shenanigans in Norway with Arctic Fox fur and Adult toys, or Pete taunting Kyle for looking like John Cena, and Kyle taunting Pete back for having such soft girly hands, or Gareth flooring us all with his voice notes, or ALL of us taking the piss out of Andreas ( Smokey the Bear ).But along the way the friendships that have been formed and the knowledge shared around this table are what counts..
Some nights there are just two people… some nights there are closer to 15 people, and jostling for a spot to tie on the table is akin to the Weekend Warriors around a shoal of yellowtail off the point…. Some of the members don’t even tie flies, they are just there for the bullshit and to scrounge a few flies… others don’t even fish, they are just there for the beer.. and the gees.
We’ve also been lucky enough to have a bunch of INCREDIBLE fly tiers and anglers come through the group.. and share their knowledge of fishing, flies, patterns and more.. Again this shared knowledge platform has made all of us better tiers and better anglers.. and while we’ve had some of the best tiers in the country as part of the Collective, we also have complete newbies to flyfishing and flytying get involved, and who are now insanely obsessed with the dark art of chasing fish on flies, and building the flies to catch them..
So what am I getting to with this post? I guess I just wanted to encourage anyone who ties, to form your own Haberdhasery Massive/Whippet Wednesday Collective.. get out there, meet new tiers, meet new anglers, learn new shit, share the shit you’ve learnt with others… push your boundaries a bit…Get together with folks you might not normally know, or hang out with.. It can be a regular structured thing, it can be a loose gelatinous hodge dodge of muppets like ours is… but I can tell you that you will be an infinitely better tier for it, and likely a better angler at the end of the day too.
A massive thanks to our proprietor Warwick, and his SUPREMELY patient and accommodating wife Angie, who puts up with having a bunch of noisy scruffy fisherman in her Garage every Wednesday night till the very wee hours of the morning… I guess your neighbors should also get a shout out for not yet calling the cops for noise ordinance infractions!
All images courtesy of good friend, and wizard image maker Dougal Paterson who, not being a fisherman at all, was intrigued by stories of this bunch of guys who get together every Wednesday night to essentially stand around and do nerdy arts and crafts in someones garage… Thanks bru.