Fishing runs deep in my family, and yet my oldest brother Mickey and I were the first to take up the challenge of fly fishing. We both spent much of our youth either on our father’s or grandfather’s boat on Lake Erie fishing for perch and walleye, or haunting every local pond searching for bass. It’s interesting though that even still we have different approaches to fly fishing. Both approaches are totally valid, but definitely different.
For Mickey, the fly rod is yet another weapon in his arsenal for his lifelong assault on the finned creatures of the world. I know of few other people who have such a natural knack for finding and catching fish, no matter what the tackle. We all know someone like that. I don’t know this for sure, but I imagine he heard there were giant steelhead in our local rivers and dammit, it’s tough to fish those rivers with a spinning rod unless it was a deep pool. So he bought a fly rod so that no type of water would keep him away from one trophy fish after another out of our streams.
About the same time in the Fall of 13, I bought myself a 5 wt Shakespeare fly outfit thanks to a discount rate I received from a family member who had an “in.” [Item number one in a long list of gear I bought without knowing any better] I had wanted to fly fish for a long time, probably since I saw that one movie as a kid… you know the one. I tend to be a bit sentimental so I’m sure the romantic representations I always saw went a long way in fueling my desire to learn it myself. Of course, I was an idiot and did ZERO research on my local rivers where I surely would have found that the local lunkers were so large that I would be severely outgunned with my 5 wt. Eventually I received my Redington Pursuit 7wt for Christmas that year thanks to my generous mother in law. Surely after an entire autumn of not even being able to find a steelhead let alone catch one, I now had the tool to do it. Right? Fast forward through almost an entire spring of fishless frustration, and I finally landed my first. [See picture below for euphoria] Of course, this happened in the last throws of the spring run, so I was essentially given a major dose of the most addictive drug on earth and then it was as though someone wiped out the supply and I was left in a fetal position waiting for fall.
That summer, I had received the fortunate (or unfortunate if you’re my wallet or my wife) gift from my friend Donny of an entry level tying vise. I spent the summer churning out one god awful looking fly after another. I mean, these were seriously bad. It was like someone tied vomit to a hook. And here I was posting pictures of these in my fly fishing groups on facebook. My friends always provided support with “Great job…” but were always careful to add “keep practicing, dude.” By no means am I a master tyer now, but I can definitely say I’ve improved thanks to the guidance of kickass tyers like Eric Roth and the ever patient fly shop staff at Backpacker’s Fly Shop in Sheffield and Dan and friends at Chagrin River Outfitters in Chagrin Falls. I kept tying and tying and tying all summer long, and in the fall, it finally paid off.
On a trip to Elk Creek in PA with Mickey, on the advice of a facebook friend, I learned and tied up a bunch of black nose daces. They were sloppy by comparison to my daces now, sure, but it apparently didn’t matter to the little lady pictured left. I had caught a few bass here and there on my flies, but this was the first time I caught a steelhead on a fly I tied. Holy crap. That was a great feeling. A feeling I’ve been fortunate enough to experience again and again in the time since.
From then on it was a constant urge to either hit the vise or hit the river. Not only that, but I’ve dragged some good friends into the abyss with me and one of them will be co-authoring this blog. And now Mickey is toying with the idea of learning fly tying. I’m almost cautious to teach him as he already outfishes me on a regular basis and this will probably send him into some Neo-like superfisherman status and he’ll blink out of existence. And knowing my luck, he’d probably be my ride home that day.
So now we embark on this little experiment of ours and see if Andy and I can drum up enough content to actually acquire some readership. Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll come back.