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Whats your story? Who got you into Fly fishing?

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Posted this somewhere here before.....

Self taught fly fishing Dad did all the other all my life.   Got some bream poppers from hardware store and starter rod.  Bicycle paper route loot.   Fished barrow pits, ponds, and sometimes managed to scull along the M’isipi coastal rivers for bass/bream; before trolling motors.  

In ‘63 m, I was 13, when Pops, USAF, took us to Germany I started the trout deal and thru the RodGunClub store outfitted with Herters stuff and got tying kit.   Mostly just tied caddis larva, cream chenille black head that worked well in the 2 leased streams.  Also worked their skeet range, $.75/hr.  min wage.  We made trips to Bavaria and I fished couple of streams in Garmisch and Bertchsgaden.   Caught rainbows and the small native browns on my caddis.  Caught some occasionally on black gnat dry I tied.   All my original stuff was lost in a break in 35 yrs ago.  Kinda quit tying for a few years and cranked back up in late ‘90s when I started making couple of trips a year to tailwaters of Arkansas.   Trips  to Henry’sFork, Yellowstone, Guadalupe,  and numerous trips to the Keys and exotics in south Fla.  Alaska is next on the list. 

Still hammer bass and bream locally and when I get chances fish the salt on our Coast.  

The amazing pic was when I was 10 with lil bass Dad took cuz all we had was black/white 220 cameras.   The other pic is my rig I had in Ger. with the rainbow.   

OT.   Youse guys are missing the new stuff from the post on FeatherCraft or not interested? 

https://www.feather-craft.com/new_fly_fishing_gear

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Been around fly fishing my entire life but I didn't actually start fly fishing until my late 40's maybe early 50's. Dad fly fished but I liked spin fishing. Dad didn't care what I used and didn't push one over the other. Growing up we deer hunted in the morning and late afternoon and fished wild trout during the middle of the day. Good times for sure. For years it was done from a tent until we upgraded to a slide in truck bed camper sitting on cinder blocks. When me and my brothers all started working we went in on a small trailer to replace the slide in. 

Didn't fish much when I had kids because they didn't take to fishing and I preferred spending my free time with them doing what they liked to do. When I did get out it was with my spinning gear. When the kids went off to college and my father passed I got his fly tying stuff and started fly fishing and tying. It made me feel like I was ten again. I enjoyed catching sunnies again. Glad I finally added it to my arsenal. With no kids around it gives me more to do with fishing. 

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Nobody in particular, really. I grew up spin fishing for largemouth bass in Florida so already loved fishing in general. When I moved to Maine in 2004, picking up fly fishing just seemed logical. Fortunately, some friends in my running circles also fly fished, so I had some people to go with and things just picked up from there. 

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On 8/22/2020 at 4:57 PM, chugbug27 said:

I do envy the guys who had great fly fishing mentors, ...

Does Patrick F. McManus count?  (You started late, so you may not know who that is, but others will tell you).

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Like most others I had been fishing in some way as long as I can remember. Even as a youngster I was in to hobbies and learning new things. When I was probably about 11 or 12 ( this would be about 2003-2004 rather than the 60's like some of you old timers!) I found a fly fishing class being held at the local nature center that was dirt cheap. It offered some classroom time learning fly fishing basics and tying a couple flies and a field portion where we learned to cast and got to get out on the river and fish for smallmouth. I think I caught a couple small bass, but I was already hooked on knowing a new way to catch fish. I was equally as fascinated by the skill of fly tying being a person that loves to create things. Later that evening the teacher of the class offered the opportunity to fish some ponds/rivers at a local botanical garden park which is generally not allowed, but he had connections. I caught 20 bass there and I think that sealed the deal.

After that I did a lot of reading and learning by myself. Bought a 30 dollar rod/reel combo. Bought a cheap vise/tool set from Cabela's (the one in the wooden box) and starting creating my own flies. My parents paid for me to take a fly tying class at our local fly shop as a gift somewhere around that time and I REALLY got in to fly tying after that. I joined this forum around that time too and learned a ton about fly tying on here, which also lead me down the path of classic and artistic salmon fly tying. My local fly shop helped sponsor me to send me to a Trout Unlimited hosted fly fishing camp one year which I then attended a couple years later as a counselor. I didn't really have a mentor, really but I knew the guys at the fly shop and they were always happy to give me advice and assistance and definitely were important in my development.

And that's basically how I went down the rabbit hole. It's definitely taken a lot of my money over the years, especially with the classic fly tying and the materials and books that go along with it, but it's also become a huge part of my life and identity. Cool to see everyone's stories.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Bill_729 said:

Does Patrick F. McManus count?

Ok, thank you for this. I was feeling  a little old just yesterday. Now not so much.

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I grew up in inner city, post WW II,  Detroit  in a large family. My father worked long hours and spent all his spare time entertaining his large brood, fixing stuff, and never had "hobby" time per se.  Occasionally we rented a summer cottage on a lake and I was free to explore fishing more  or less on my own with conventional spinning  and casting gear. . 

The fly fishing hook was set in me by hanging out at sporting goods stores; ogling the gear; and hearing the tales of way more accomplished fisher folk.  This led in my mid teens to my first fly tying kit and a homemade rod and Medalist reels. (Over the years I would estimate I may have bought a dozen commercial flies and that often was just to tear them down to see how they were made.)  But throughout my twenties , I more or less got started as a loner w/o mentors outside of the fishing magazine writers of the time who, in retrospect, were often long on inspiration and pure guff but very short on reliable how to info. I later was lucky enough to find very knowledgeable guys to fish with and books by real experts who accelerated my learning  curve.

Today's inet would condense much of that breaking in into a long weekend.   IF you could sort out the new guff....

Rocco   

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58 minutes ago, Rocco said:

I grew up in inner city, post WW II,  Detroit  in a large family. ... Occasionally we rented a summer cottage on a lake

My mom grew up there about that same time, same summer cottage by the lake story. They lived on Pine Street I think

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1 hour ago, Rocco said:

 w/o mentors outside of the fishing magazine writers of the time who, in retrospect, were often long on inspiration and pure guff but very short on reliable how to info.

There no doubt some truth to that. The plot of the articles doesn't need to change that much--after reading 4 or 5, you could write your own.   But, beggars can't be choosers... and the library wasn't too far away.  Before you get a drivers license and/or a car, you have time to read.  It's easy to take for granted just how much info we have at our fingertips these days...

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My brother got me started into fly fishing.  He started fly fishing in the early 70's.  By 1974 he got me interested in fly fishing.  In 1975 I had worked so much overtime that I had earned a couple of extra weeks of vacation.  My brother then suggested that we go to fish Idaho and Montana.  I barely knew where we were going.  We fished Silver Creek, the Henry's Fork, the Yellowstone, the Madison and the Gallatin.  And even though I was a total novice to fly fishing, the fish were so plentiful that I caught fish from every stream that we fished.  The trip was so much fun that we continued to make trips to Idaho/Montana for the next 28 years.  Can you imagine the first time we got to Silver Creek, I looked down into the water below Kilpatrick bridge, I couldn't see the bottom of the stream because the fish literally carpeted the bottom of the stream!  

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My dad grew up bait fishing for bullhead Hornpout - He was from a very poor farming family during the depression and fishing was just another way of helping  the family to eat.  When I was 5 years old dad bought some tackle and taught me to worm an bobber fish. We caught Yellow Perch that day and I was "hooked".  Dad never got serious about fishing beyond occasionally casting a line from shore.  I always thought maybe the pressures of having to catch fish to eat was a memory he couldn’t get past completely.  I never did ask him that question and I wish now that I had.  He passed when I was 18 after a long fight with cancer.  

In the first grade I went with my parents to a hobby fair that was put on by my school.  I remember walking past tables with radio controlled airplanes, guitars, model rockets,  HAM radios and even a Karate group.  Then I saw a kid from my class setting up what I thought was a some type of sewing kit.  At that time I didn’t even know that fly tying existed.  I was amazed by it and I never forgot watching my classmate and his dad that night. Growing up spin casting in the 70’s my friends and I would occasionally see someone fly fishing.  When I asked friends and family about it I was told “you really got to know what you’re doing” or that “it was difficult and you need to have someone teach you”.  I didn’t know anyone who could teach me.  Today I realize that the people who told me that had never picked up a fly rod in their life so to them it was black magic.  The first time I tried to cast a fly I would have agreed with them that it was impossible.  Back then, every once in a great while one of the Sunday morning fishing shows would do a segment on fly fishing or even more rare a segment on fly tying.  I was always fascinated with it.

Life got in the way of fishing though and I regrettably went through my 20’s and 30’s without fishing at all.  In my mid 40’s after our daughters married and moved off I finally went fishing again.  After a few years of spin fishing for largemouth my fascination from long ago came flooding back.   The long dormant desire find out what I wanted to know was back and this time around I could do something about it.  In 2009 I left Bass Pro with my first basic set up.  I didn’t have a mentor beyond youtube and books.  So I learned to cast from the youtube pros.  Then I learned the basic fly fishing techniques from The Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing TV show.  After a year of fishing with store bought flies I purchased my first vise and materials.  I spent a lot of hours watching Davie Mcphail, Tim Flagler and many others tie online.  I haven’t bought a fly in 10 years.  2 years ago I began restoring old bamboo rods, again benefiting from the hundreds of hours of free how to information that's available on line.   And there’s our membership here, I’m grateful to all of you that post.  I read solid advice here and learn constantly from this forum.  These days I’m passing on what I’ve learned to my wife and grandchildren.  As I’m sure most of you know the trouble with teaching children to fish is that you don’t get to do much fishing yourself.  That's alright because I honestly get more of a kick out of watching them catch a fish than I do catching one myself.

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it's interesting to hear all the different experiences and it makes me remember that we all got here on our own roads.   Diversity.  

I fished from the time I could stand and hold a rod.  My Dad fished.   And we hunted.  It wasn't a "hobby",  it was part of who we are--- it's like saying we ate, or slept, or breathed. 

Dad had fly fished as a young man through the 50s and 60s, and less in the 70s, all through NW Pennsylvania.   He was a truck driver supporting a family.  No fly fishing elitism or snobbery,  it was another way to fish and have a good time.   He worked part time at a local sporting goods store-  a REAL sporting goods store from a bygone era with racks of rifles and shotguns and clothing and rubber hip waders and old guys smoking pipes.   It smelled like Hoppe's #9, pipe smoke, and old canvas.  They sold flies tied by local guys, and you could buy fly hooks individually from the small cardboard Mustad boxes if you wanted.  

As said,  he didn't fly fish exclusively by any stretch, and he never tied flies.    He loved to walleye fish the Allegheny River, and the go-to method was bucktail jigs in the fall (all the recent talk about "hair jigs" is bullshit-  these guys were catching truckloads of fish with them in the 60s....)  and some time in the late 70s they could no longer get the jigs that everyone wanted locally-  I don't know the story behind that.   I told him (I was maybe 10 years old) that I could make them- the jig heads were there, the bucktails were there,   I just needed to learn how to do it.   He used some of his part time work pay to buy a Thompson Model A vise and a bobbin,  some thread, jig heads, and a few bucktails.    I checked out a couple books from the public library about fly tying, the closest I could get to jigs, and just did it.  No youtube, nobody telling me I had to have expensive and fancy this and that, no nothing but a desire to do it.  Before long I got some basic techniques down and was making decent bucktails.    The books I learned from were about flies, so naturally I fooled around tying some flies too, even though I had never cast his fly rod.   As in singular, his fly rod.   It was (is) a Philipson 7-1/2 foot  "HGH" rated if I remember right, the old rating before line weights.   It correlates pretty well with a modern 5 weight. 

Our house was in walking distance from a couple trout streams and a warmwater creek with had smallmouths and rock bass and carp, and the Allegheny river was a 20 minute bike ride away.   I asked, and he put a new leader on the old level fly line on the Martin reel, and I spent a spring learning how to cast on my own, reading books about it,  and catching creek chubs and the occasional rock bass and little smallmouth-    I had tied a "red ibis" wet fly on a gold aberdeen hook I found in an old tackle box-   and one afternoon I was practicing how to cast - and clear as day a rainbow trout swirled up from behind a rock after that fly-   I didn't expect it- a second cast caused another look but no take.    I remembered reading about this in one book or another... rest a fish for a while that didn't take.  With pretty shaky hands I bit off the attractor fly and tied on a #8 black and grizzly woolly worm I had tied because the old guys said to tie it and fish it--  I waited a couple minutes and made another cast above the rock and the trout ate it without any hesitation.    Probably the best tasting trout I have ever eaten in my entire life. 

So if anything "got me started" in fly tying, I guess that's it.   It wasn't something I sought out, it just WAS.  

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Another great topic.

Like some of the stories here, I too learned to fly fish due to my Dad.  Back in the early 70's, he bought three fly rods/reels for me and my two older brothers, showed us the basics and sent us into the yard to practice our casts.  No lectures about form, tight loops, 10 and 2 o'clock, just gently lay that fly line out there where you wanted it.  When we had it down, or close enough, he took us to the rivers of western Mass with our new rubber hip boots.  He too, was a truck driver, and there certainly was not an elitist attitude in our household.  It was not until I lived in New Mexico that I ran into that foreign concept while wet wading on a river with my original fiberglass fly rod, whose name and specs had long since worn off, and my original Japanese made Medalist knock-off.  Anyway, my Dad was always of the opinion that you should be getting your boots wet just before the sun rose, so we would often take off the night before our day on the river and sleep in the back of the International Travelall on the side of the road, not far from where he planned to fish.  Breakfast was bacon and eggs cooked on the Coleman stove on the tailgate.  It became a running joke in the family that I would fall into the river sometime during the day, and rarely did I disappoint.  Many is the time I remember being pulled out of the river by the scruff of my neck as my Dad laughed.  It was only until I was much older than I should have been that I realized my Dad always positioned himself downstream from me for that very purpose.  My Dad now is too old to go stream side with us, but my brother and I still share that pleasure often, but not often enough.  Though I have more rods and reels than I should, I still use that old Japanese knock off reel, as I did with my original rod, until it was snapped by a monster large mouth a few years back fishing on the local lake.  The pieces sit by my tying desk, and like fly fishing, bring back great memories of times gone past.      

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