The Fantasy Fly Company

People ask how I came up with the name Fantasy Fly Co. First, a fish that could take a 10” long Royal Coachman is not just any fish- it's a 'fantasy' fish. And, to catch that 'fantasy' fish, naturally, you would need a Fantasy Fly. Second, of course everyone hears the tale of the 'big one that got away'. Those too are 'fantasy fish'. So, to catch your 'fantasy fish', you would logically need a Fantasy Fly. The first name I came up with for the giant fly art back in the early 80's was 'Day-dreamer Streamer', but that only described one type of fly. So I developed the entire fly line with their own catagories, such as 'Whopper Hoppers', all under the Fantasy Fly name.

Fantasy Flies are a break from reality. They are a form of art that plays upon fantasy and imagination, and one must let go of practicality in order to appreciate what they represent- unless, of course, you actually want to try for your 'fantasy fish'. My overall goal is to combine true fly-tying with art, extremism, and a lot of humor, to provide a unique experience in the fly-tying world, not just a 'product'.  From the largest to the smallest, Fantasy Flies are intended not only to evoke a response to the lighter side of the craft of fly-tying, but also to build an appreciation of the creativity and problem-solving required in extreme fly-tying.  Not to mention that the 14/0 giant flies sure get the monster fish stories going! The “giant fly’ idea is not a new one, but performing it properly as an art form is, and that includes tying real fishing patterns on very large real hooks.

When I first started tying at fly shows, back in the very early 80's, my concoctions were limited to realistic stoneflies, beetles, grasshoppers, and roaches- otherwise known as 'Ugly Bugs'. I added a 14/0 peacock nymph to the fare at the request of the local flyshop owner, Rod Robinder. The 14/0 (Mustad) flies became Fantasy Flies and Day-Dreamer Streamers. In the late 80's I added mice and rats to the show, plus the #32 Mustad flies, and during the 90's I added the first realistic ties for what would become 'psycho residents' of the 'Baits Hotel'. Thanks to a good friend, Richard Whitner, who introduced me to 'Flex-o' body material, I had a new form of art to explore. Although great for baitfish, this material lends itself splendidly to artistic interpretations. Check out the Flex-O Fly Page to see some of what I do.

Jack Dennis became a good friend of mine, and he would attest that in his world travels that he never saw the likes of the 'novelty tying' that I was doing, so he graciously added me as a guest tier on his TV series. But not everyone warmed up to 'novelty tying' as many flyfishers were still in the practical mode, so for the longest time I remained alone in my little niche, 'just having fun'. Saber-toothed mice, platypii, pigs, martian mice and crocodile rat-flies appealed to a segment of fly tiers and fishermen that had a great sense of humor, but not all of them had one- or saw the need for novelty tying. After a period of time, the 'Baits Hotel' (a Plano Guide-box) became my personal box of 'psycho-flies' that are basically the 'props' for a comedy routine that incorporates presentations, humor, art, extreme tying- and an audience to 'cast' to. I like to 'reel'em in', then release them un-harmed & laughing (and not unaffected). It's boiled down to 'fly-tying stand-up comedy' and it's gained a large following over the years. But today, I'm happy to say, there is a whole class of tiers out there who are tying 'oddities' just for the sake of having fun. They have joined me in the 'Fly Side'- the 'other' dimension of fly tying.

The majority of the giant Fantasy Flies sold are the giant 14/0 trout flies mounted as desk sets, mantle mounts, or wall mounts.  Most of these are bought as gifts - maybe for that hard-to-buy-for fly fisherman who has every gadget imaginable and enough rods and reels to outfit a shop.  The Fantasy Fly sits on the desk at the office to always remind him or her that the big one is waiting just for them, or to get the fishing conversations going. Fly shops, guide services, restaurants, and gift shops have all taken advantage of the wonderful advertising possibilities of Fantasy Flies. Please take a look at the catalog and the archives to see what the giant Fantasy Flies have become over 25 years.

After 30 years of tying all the Fantasy Flies (giant and otherwise), I still enjoy the responses of those who see them for the first time. I won't show all of them here on the website, as I need to save some of them for the shows. The greatest appreciation is always in the quality of the flies, and that’s just what keeps them from being ‘gimmicks’. Many years were spent developing and perfecting the techniques for the giant fly patterns and obtaining the proper materials for these larger-than-life flies. Those who have tried to copy this art form have the greatest appreciation of what it takes to pull it off properly. And to me, a proper Fantasy Fly would be a tied fly pattern on a real hook.

Fly-tying is a progressive hobby.  New materials are found or created constantly, and the challenge is to be creative with these new materials while remaining true to the craft.  Pushing the envelope, exploring new applications, such as the 'rope-dub' technique, and creating new flies are rewarding and keep a 40+-year hobby from ever growing stale.  Tying skills need to be expanded and adapted constantly to go where no one has gone before. The world of fly-tying is extremely broad and covers not only every possible fishing application, but also applications in art and collectables- and in humor, if you want to go there.

The giant Fantasy Flies are fishable flies on real Mustad hooks. This 'foundation of authenticity' is only the tip of the iceberg. Day-dreamer Streamers and Whopper Hoppers and Monster Muddlers are just a few of the ‘fantasies’ to be enjoyed.  Add to that the sculpted deer-hair flies, flex-o flies, realistics, size 32’s, McFlyfoam flies- the list just goes on. 

But I do have a practical side, too. Saltwater flyfishing for billfish has been a dream-come-true for me. So tying extreme specialty flies to catch these Fantasy Fish is right in line with the theme of Fantasy Flies. I've also tried my hand at many inshore flies and there are pages for these also.

So welcome to my Fantasy Fly world.  Forget practicality for a moment and just enjoy the ride and the fantasy.

Donald D. Ordes
Owner of Fantasy Fly Company and originator of Fantasy Flies