#14 Object Talks: The colourful life of Aleksander Jaworowski's fish flies
A fishing nerd on why he doesn't tie flies to fish with them
Objectively is a series about our objects and the stories they tell. Leading with curiosity, the project views objects as an extension and embodiment of humanity, and hopes that exploring our relationship with them gives us new understandings of ourselves.
Object Talks is a new sub-series where we interview creatives who work with objects—such as makers, collectors, and curators—about their practice.
We are very excited for the first Object Talks today, with Aleksander Jaworowski on tying fish flies. He shares about how it is almost an act of conscious dreaming for him, what makes the best fly, and why he still ties them even though most never touch water.
Aleksander Jaworowski is a 24-year old fishing nerd who lives in southern Sweden. Currently, he works as a civil engineer in environmental adaptation of hydropower and dams. In his spare time he ties fishing flies, dabbles with different types of object-creation and cooking, and spends time with Anneli and their dog Luna.
Hi Aleksander, can you share with us about your interest in tying fish flies? How did it all begin?
My father introduced me to fishing and one day when I was just rummaging around the house I found his old stash of fly tying material, an old fly fishing reel and a big pile of old numbers of the magazine Fly Fishing in the Nordics. I was 11 at the time and completely absorbed by fishing, and had for a while been wanting to expand into fly fishing in my chase for rainbow trout in the local pond. I would go there with my bike up to three times a week, before soccer games and after piano lessons. Experimenting with patterns, trying out different hypotheses and being rewarded with greater success on the water brought a whole new dimension to my fishing.
Having done it for over a decade now, how do you think your process or approach has morphed over time?
Actually, I don’t think that it has changed that much, or as much as I think the practice of a creative hobby might have changed in that time. In the beginning I drew a lot of inspiration from older fly fishing magazines and books on fly tying. But rather fast I turned to doing more just what is called “freestyle” tying. I tend to just go through my boxes of material and pick out some stuff that I feel resonates with me at that particular time, then I sit down in front of the vice and see where it takes me.
I have tried doing more batches of the same patterns, especially as I have tried doing a little bit of commercial tying, but I just don’t feel like it is for me. To me, tying flies is almost an act of conscious dreaming. As I tie the fly I think of how it would move in the water, in what conditions I would use it and the fish I would catch with it. But 95% of the flies that I tie will never have water just because I don’t have time to actually fish that much these days. Tying becomes almost like a substitute for the actual fishing.
To me, tying flies is almost an act of conscious dreaming.
Why do you continue to tie them even though you’re not likely to use them?
I think aside from the whole dreaming experience that I have with flies that I don’t even use for fishing, the greatest thing I would lose is the feeling of achievement. Sitting down and thinking about a fly, tying it, using it and maybe realizing that the pattern needs some tweaking, and repeating that whole process, makes it that much more rewarding to catch fish.
A fish fly’s purpose is to mimic. What else would you say there is to it?
It is true that many flies are tied to mimic something that the fish eat (such flies are called imitations) but many flies, actually a lot of the flies that I tie, do not look at all like something the fish has eaten before. See, the fish doesn’t have any hands so after watching and maybe smelling something, they have to inspect by putting things in their mouth. Therefore, a fly that is just provoking or “interesting” to the fish can be just as good (or much better, in some scenarios) as an imitation.
The most important factor is however that the fly gives the user confidence. In my opinion, the confidence of the angler is a deciding factor of their success, and a fly that looks as good to the angler as to the fish is always the best fly.
I am guessing there’s a lot of waiting around when fishing - what do you do during this time?
Actually, my fishing is a rather hectic experience. When I actually do get time to get out and go fishing, my brain is often in a very raised state of activity. Anglers often talk about “cracking the code” because fish tend to be acting rather similar in a certain place at a certain day. When you do “crack the code”, that is when you often have a very good day of fishing and can catch multiple fish - but many days spent fishing (at least for me) is just a constant process of trial and error, trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together before the time runs out. I’m trying to get better at slowing down and just enjoying the time that I do get to go outside but I’m just a little bit too eager still.
Before you go, who’s another object-creator you look to for any sort of inspiration?
There are a few other fly tyers that I really look up to — Svend Diesel, Gunnar Brammer and Svenja Bossen amongst others. I also do spin fishing and there are some incredibly talented bait makers out there that always make my jaw drop: Joe Peterson from Trueglide, Claes Claesson from Svartzonker, and a lot of brands that make fishing lures (Megabass, Gan Craft, Rapala).
The most inspiring object-creator and the person that has the single most impact on my creativity is my fiancee Anneli Xie (who now mainly runs @woolandbuggers). Fly tying used to be pretty much my only way of creative expression, and I have definitely not seen myself as a creative person before but by seeing her work with different creative mediums, especially writing and crochet, has just made it intriguing to me to start exploring my creative sides that much more.
View Aleksander’s collection of fish flies, and follow along on his catches. He is also one-half of WOOL & BUGGERS, a studio based in Lund, Sweden.
We share a new interview every Thursday. #15 will feature Emily Tay, a UX designer and storyteller.
In that moment of wonder I exclaimed, “My dream is to be an air fryer.”
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