Most experienced flytiers take about 10 minutes to make an
imitation of a nymph, the underwater life stage of a stone fly
or a mayfly. It takes Bill Logan, a 39-year-old sculptor from
Upper Saddle River, N.J., 150 hours to tie one. But what a nymph!
Logan's creations--the largest are only two inches long--are
precisely detailed flies, right down to the segmented antennae
and minuscule mouth parts. These trompe l'oeil counterfeits have
drawn ecstatic reviews from critics and fly-tying experts alike.
Creations such as Logan's Green Drake nymph (above, center) and
Western Golden Stonefly (above, right) fetch upwards of $4,000
apiece from collectors.
Logan, who was born and raised in Colorado, taught graphic
design at Southern Illinois from 1992 to '95 while studying for
his master of fine arts degree. There was no trout-fishing in
prairie country, so he took out his frustration by tying his
first superrealistic fly, a nymph of the mayfly Isonychia
bicolor (above, left), which he entered in the 1993 Mustad
Scandinavian Open fly-tying competition in Norway. It won first
prize in the nymph class and is now in the Norsk Skogbruksmuseum
in Elverum. That fly, however, is "not even close to what I'm
doing now," Logan says.
He starts with a very thin sheet of brass, cutting it with a
jeweler's saw and giving it backbone with music wire. He uses a
miniature sandblaster and sand paper to taper the monofilament
fishing line that serves as the fly's antennae and tail, which
he then winds with heavy French tinsel. To form the antennae
segments, Logan micro-blasts small openings between the spirals
of tinsel. For body parts he uses hollow porcupine quills, tiny
barbs from the wings of wild and domestic turkeys, and fuzz from
underneath the tail of a Hungarian partridge. He fashions the
foundation for the legs from very fine stainless-steel wire that
he pulls from a welding brush. Logan says, "I want them to look
real, above all else." So real, in fact, that one expects to see
them emerge and fly off.
November 2, 1998
--Robert H. Boyle
by Bill Logan