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Fly Tying
Chase Creek

Teaching Boy Scouts Tying

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I was asked to help out this Summer at Boy Scout Camp, helping with the Fly Fishing Merit Badge. Specifically, one of the requirements is that the Scout tie 2 flies. Keeping in mind, the merit badge program (there are well over 100 different merit badges) is intended to introduce a Scout to a particular field, like electronics, welding, etc., and NOT to make them by any means an expert at it, by finishing a number of requirements to earn the badge. The way this particular class is set up, the Scout attends a class once a day for 5 days that are supposed to cover all the requirements. The sessions are each 50 minutes in length.

 

The Fly Fishing Merit Badge is actually taught by another Scout. In this case, the young man has 2 or 3 years experience fly fishing, but not too much tying, so I was asked to help out in that area. There are 5-6 Scouts in each class

 

In talking with him, we changed the class content so that we would have a full session (50 minutes) to do the tying (2 flies). Probably 95% of these kids have ever been exposed to fly fishing, let alone tying.

 

The plan - each Scout will tie 2 flies (a Wooly Bugger and a Micky Fin). We are packaging the materials for one each of the flies in a small plastic zip-loc, along with a threaded bobbin, and scissors. I will tie the fly, with them following along step by step. I wanted to keep materials at a minimum, as theses guys are starting STONE COLD. We'll start with the Wooly Bugger to get the basics of attaching the thread to the hook and tying materials in, then go the the Micky Fin.

 

Hopefully, we can get both flies tied in one session. It should be interesting, if nothing else.

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If it's not too late ... I'd change the second fly from a mickey fin to a foam beetle. Both of your choices are subsurface flies. The foam beetle is easy to tie, and top water.

 

Good luck.

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They have to tie 2 types of flies. The Mickey Fin is a streamer, and the merit badge book classifies the Wooly Bugger as a wet fly. With a little floatant, the Wooly Bugger will work as a top water pattern. Trying to keep it as simple as possible.

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Ah ... well, good luck ... at least it's Boy Scouts, and not a "summer" camp full of kids who'd rather be home with a computer game or smoking in an alley somewhere.

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Agreed. Our Troop doesn't allow electronics on weekend campouts or summer camp, even cell phones. Adult leaders can have cell phones, for obvious reasons. We have around 350-400 Scouts each week of summer camp, which lasts 7 weeks. That's a LOT of Scouts.

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I would think the course would really be complete if they take their own fly out and fish with it. In that regard, I'd agree with Mike.... take them to a pond full of bluegills, where they're almost sure to catch something on the beetle, or the WB for that matter. A successful experience could work wonders.

But the overall idea is really great, and I'm glad you're helping out.

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The camp has 3 lakes, full of 'gills and Bass. One of the requirements for the merit badge is that the Scout catch at least 2 species on a fly. We do have them fish their own flies, and it's quite a kick to see them catch a fish on it, and a real confidence booster for the boys. We also go to a DNR research area with several lakes to fish, with special permission from the Ohio DNR. I personally think it's one of the best programs in our camp, but I might be a little biased.

 

As a side note, one of the requirements for both the fly fishing merit badge and the fishing merit badge is that the boys clean and cook at least one of their catch. There is a group of us that are trying to get the merit badge folks at BSA National to change that one to reflect catch and release, as part of the outdoor ethics trend we are working very hard to instil with the Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly programs. We're not there yet, but gaining.

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In Fla., catching two species is a challenge unless your time is unlimited. I guess up there you have perch, walleye, and smallmouths, species that we don't have in our lakes. We don't even have white crappie.

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As a side note, one of the requirements for both the fly fishing merit badge and the fishing merit badge is that the boys clean and cook at least one of their catch. There is a group of us that are trying to get the merit badge folks at BSA National to change that one to reflect catch and release, as part of the outdoor ethics trend we are working very hard to instil with the Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly programs. We're not there yet, but gaining.

I disagree with getting that changed, for two reasons.

1) In some waters, selective harvest can result in healthier populations than total catch and release programs. You can't put the same rules on every body of water, OR on every species of fish.

2) Part of BSA is teaching survival skills, too. Learning how to manage you resources is better than simply pushing through the idea that all fish should be released.

 

In Fla., catching two species is a challenge unless your time is unlimited. I guess up there you have perch, walleye, and smallmouths, species that we don't have in our lakes. We don't even have white crappie.

If by two species, we go with different Sunfishes ... than catching two species is a daily thing here in Florida.

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Personally, I would just go with the wooly bugger or worm. Let them tie up 2 of them just so they can see a bit of difference. I don't think 50 minutes is enough time to start them out and get 2 patterns tied up.

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