Well Andy.... that was a long paragraph and I love your enthusiasm. I too grew up in South Jersey.
When I was 9 I got my first fly rod purchased at Stratton's Sporting goods in Audubon on the White Hourse Pike. Old George sold few flies but what he had were mostly traditional wets.
When I was 10 I bought a fly tying kit at the Philly Sportsman's show (1970) and it came with a book by Eric Liescer (spelling name wrong) and there were very good directions for tying wets though it was of course black and white... the kit came with lotsa duck quill and exotic colored feathers, furs and floss. I still have some of these materials today!
Well; in the school library were a few books by various Catskill guys & Lee Wulff wherein descriptions of "fishing a brace" of wet flies (3 in number, one on the point and two droppers) were the standard means for catching trout in these New York, Vermont and upper Jersey waters.
SO; I started tying mostly wet flies and back in those days materials were very scarce; especially in South Jersey... each year at the Philly show I would buy whatever they had and I could afford. Do you remember all the materials from "UNIVERSAL VISE"? They were a MA company; still have some carded silk floss, tinsel, gold wire, brass wire etc. from those days. Heck I still have pieces of fur for dubbing... they were sold as tying material but were scrap from the fur coat industry that Universal sold.
Anyway... about the time I was 12 or 13 a guy took me to fish the Raritan and I did catch a couple fish on my wet flies casting a brace and of course losing a ****ton of flies to trees and the bottom.
When I first moved to Maine full time in 1984 (after graduating Rutgers Camden and knowing NJ was never gonna be a fly fishing mecca) I still primarily used wets & classic streamers that I tied myself but as the years went bye I seemed to move toward mostly traditional dry flies, then parachutes and so on until I stopped tying these wets altogether.
The last fish I caught on one of my wets was in the Sandy River about 1993; a beautiful brown who sucked up a yellow professor.. when I landed him I found the fly had pruned off the bottom of his gills and he died. I fed him to my father.
Oh well; your flies are well constructed and beautiful... back in the day I could look at any traditional wet and tell you the name as I owned several books long since given away or donated that had hundreds of color plates with all the names and materials lists.
Oh how I wish I still had them.
You are an inspiration. Thanks Richard.