Up until 1986, I had only heard about fly fishing but never really gave it much thought. During my Senior year of High School, I took an Outdoor Education class that covered all types of activities. Everything from Rock Climbing, Archery, Shooting, and Camping to Fly Fishing. However, being a brand-new school, we did not have any fly rods, so we spent two weeks learning to tie flies. I was immediately addicted. I scrounged or harvested all kinds of materials from the woods behind our house. I even made my first vise out of a block of Oak, a C-clamp, and an X-Acto knife handle. However, I had yet to cast a fly rod.
In 1987, I made one of the best choices of my life and joined the United States Marine Corps, where I served as an Infantryman for 20 years. My career spanned from the end of the Cold War, the Persian Gulf War (Desert Storm), and the Global War on Terrorism. Throughout the entire period, I continued to tie. During the last few years of my time as a Marine, I had a Commanding Officer who fly-fished, and in 2003, I finally learned how to cast. I retired from active duty on February 27, 2007. Shortly after, I returned to work for the Marine Corps as a Civil Servant.
In 2010, my wife Gail and I were walking around a Farmers Market, and I saw a lady selling a bag of fur and a bar of soap. As a fly tier, I had to check out the fur! She was selling the fur/soap kit to make felted soap. I ended up buying the kit. I got the fur, and Gail got the soap. Turns out the fur was Alpaca, and shortly after tying with it, Fiber Flies Dubbing was born. Our signature product, Paca Dub, comprises 100% Alpaca fibers. It comes in two different 12-color assortments. The first is our Trout selection, and the second is the Saltwater/Salmon selection. In 2019, we introduced Paca Tips as a companion product. Paca Tips is Alpaca on the hide and comes in the same fish-catching colors as the dubbing.
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be chosen to attend Bamboo Bend. This non-profit organization supports Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing by teaching disabled veterans how to make a hand planed bamboo rod. The experience was life-changing. The class is held once a year in Lovells, Michigan and the students stay at a nearby lodge along the Au-Sable river.