Fabrizio Gajardoni is a world-class fly tier from Rimini, Italy. His name is behind many creations due to his fantastic talent at the vise for all kinds of patterns: dries, nymphs, deer bass and pike flies, saltwater patterns and fine full-dress salmon flies. He has been awarded on Mustad tying contests on several occasions and has been featured in the best fly-tying publications, such as Paul Schmookler’s Art of Angling Journal. Here’s more about him and his flies, in his own words.
Fd: When did you start fly fishing? How was it?
Fabrizio: I started in fly fishing on 1981 after some years spent on fishing trout, carp and whitefish with natural decoys on lake and rivers close to my city. In this time, I was very interested on general fishing, and reading some magazine I found a few fly fishing articles. On 1981, internet was a dream and in Italy fly fishermen were only a few tens, so it was very difficult to understand what fly fishing really was. My fisherman mate bought a kit for fly fishing and tying, and tried first to fly fish but after some tries he had to put all aside. So I purchased from him the fly fishing kit and went to my favorite little creek to fish for trout; I still remember well the first micro trout I caught with a Brown Bivisible, it was only 15 cm but for me it was love at first sight.
Fd: How did you become interested in fly tying?
Fabrizio: Tying flies was immediate, I had just a few feathers and some hair but the passion for fly tying was very strong for me. The first flies I tried to replicate were the beautiful Devaux series, I was lucky to meet Massimo Masi that had a fly fishing store 100 to km from my city, Rimini. I don’t know how many times l had gone at his shop to learn to cast and tie flies. We are now great friends, for more than thirty years, and still go fishing together. I love to tie flies, when I’m at my vise, all the rest of the world doesn’t exist, it’s like a zen zone. During thirty years I tied all kind of flies and I’m always ready to tie new creatures.
Fd: Do you have any mentors or influences in regard to fly design?
Fabrizio: It’s difficult to think of just one mentor, each kind of fly has been influenced by great tiers of the past and modern ones. Still, for dry flies I’m inspired by Charles Devaux; for the nymphs by my friend Massimo Masi, he helped me so much on how to tie dry and nymph patterns. After 3or 4 years of tying and fishing, I took on fly fishing and tying for bass and pike, I love so much fishing both. Tying deer bugs and colored streamers opens my mind to the best fantasy possible and my boxes are full of fantastic colored flies, my eyes enjoy them, as the fish do too.
In 1998, I was struck by lightning when looking to some salmon flies exhibited on a fly fishing show in Italy. Immediately, it was love at first sight, I love them so much, so I started to purchase books, feathers, silks, hooks and many other lovely materials. Claudio D’Angelo was the first man that introduced me to the salmon flies world, he was a great friend and now that I lost him I’m really more poor. On this kind of flies, I was lucky to be in contact with Paul Schmookler, who has influenced my salmon flies design and style. Still, my good friend Luc Coututier helps me so much with his suggestions and materials.
Fd: Which are the aspects that you consider to be fundamental for a fly to be effective?
Fabrizio: I believe that every detail is important for a fly to be effective, but to me the sense of life that the fly must have when fishing is fundamental. So, it is very important to use soft hair and feathers that will help the fly move well on the water. A little breath of wind can give realistic effect on flies tied with soft materials. Colors are still fundamental, maybe more for the fisherman than for the fish, but I think that believing on a fly we have on the rod is very important to catch fish everywhere.
Fd: What are your favorite materials to use? What reasons make you choose a certain material?
Fabrizio: I tie many kind of flies, from fresh to saltwater so it’s difficult to choose my favorite materials, but if I had to choose one I’d say deer hair. I love it so much because it’s soft and stiff at the same time, very floating and easy to find in many wonderful colors. It’s so funny to carve it with a blade and create what l have in my mind to fish. It’s one of the best materials for trout, grayling, salmon, bass, pike, bonefish, permit, tarpon, etc.
Moreover, I love to create some unusual flies for fun, like Scrat, Dragoon or Turkey.
Another great passion I have is for all kind of natural materials, especially the beautiful classic salmon fly feathers, I love so much to tie classically like the masters of the Victorian era. The beautiful design and colors of the feathers give me the best satisfaction in tying, in the full dress as with dry or wet flies.
Fd: What are your thoughts on the future of fly tying and new kinds of materials?
Fabrizio: I spent about 32 years tying flies and I see how the tying is changing in these times. Once it was not easy to learn and improve our techniques, the only way was just reading and studying some beautiful books; now with DVD first and internet then, it’s more easy to see any tricks and suggestions on how to tie better flies. I saw a lot of great tiers during this year and I believe that will be always better.
About new materials, I always have been much curious about them, always. When I see some materials that inspire me, I buy them and I put them in my fishing cave, not always I find immediately the right way to use them, but sooner or later I find a way of using them. I love to experiment and study new materials that open my mind to new dressing and flies. Naturally, not all the experiments are right but trying and trying again helps me to keep being open to any possibility of use on the flies. Naturally new materials are 99% synthetics, it’s rare to find a new natural material; on the past 150 years men have tried any kind of feather and hair.
Fd: What is your favorite kind of fishing and tying? Salt, freshwater… any particular species?
Fabrizio: I started fly fishing for trout and grayling in 1981 and then black bass and pike some years later. For many years these were my first choice in fishing and tying flies. I love fishing for trout and grayling in the north of Italy and Austria, as I like the fantastic fighting with black bass and the big catch of pike.
On the last 10 years, I developed a great passion for saltwater fishing, unfortunately fly fishing on Adriatic Sea, where I live, is not easy but still manage to catch small fish that give me great satisfaction and a lot of experience in understanding this world. I spend a lot of time tying new flies for our saltwater species; it’s not easy fishing this area, believe me.
As a conclusion, I love fishing all of the species and tying any kind of flies, but If I have to choose one, then my favorite is tying full-dressed salmon flies. I never fished for salmon, although I tie a lot of salmon flies for friends and clients.The world of full dress is magic for history, I love to read the antique books and breath the flavor of the old pages, working with the beautiful feathers of the Victorian era is fantastic. Tying this type of flies helps very much to improve our tying techniques and gives great satisfaction to the tier.
Fd: As a final point, what does fly fishing mean to you?
Fabrizio: Fly fishing and fly tying are an important part of my life. Practicing these disciplines gave me the opportunity to know and meet a lot of great fishermen and tiers of the world, having friendly and funny times together. To me, going fishing with friends is the best time; I love nature and staying in wild places.
I think that tying flies is pure Art, I saw many unbelievable flies from many great tiers and friends, I’m very glad to be a little part of this world.
You can contact Fabrizio here at Fd: Gaja.