I began fishing and tying flies from an early age back in Southern New York state. My home town was a small hamlet with trout streams and wildlife just a short walk from my house. My father was a fly fisherman and bow hunter, allowing me to tag along as he spent many hours in the field and stream. It is here that I began my love affair with the outdoors. I also was fortunate to have an older gentleman who lived down the road from me who was a professional fly tier. I was only 8 or 9 when he asked me if I wanted to learn how to tie flies, well, you know the attention span of a youngster who has to sit still and watch. I was all over the place! He would yell at me and send me on my way, telling me that I could come back when I could sit still and listen to him. I did come back, and he taught me patience, and the skills required to tie some fishing flies, which I lost to the branches and logs of my local trout stream! But, I did catch some trout! That was it, I’m all in!
It was this gentleman who put my name into a list of boys who would be selected to attend a Boys camp for Conservation located in the Catskill Mountains in the southern tier of New York State. This week at Camp DeBruce was where I learned many of the things that I still hold near to my heart, it also was where I made a decision to make the outdoors a career. I learned many things that week as a youngster, gun safety & shooting, forestry, animal identification, trapping, fly tying and hiking. What a wonderful thing to do for young boys! I was also very lucky to be able to attend this camp twice. But it was the fly tying that really sticks in my mind. I remember the salt and peppered hair, the stocky build and the gentle disposition of a man who changed my life. His name was Roy Steenrod, where later I learned that he was the man behind the Hendrickson dry fly! We fished Willowemoc creek, the Beaverkill and some of the other small tributaries of that region, the Mecca of trout fishing back East. I also had the fortune to meet Harry & Elsie Darby during my trips to fish this beautiful area. Later on after graduating High school, I attended college to earn my degree in Conservation Wildlife. I moved to Washington state and began my life with my young wife fishing and hunting the great Pacific Northwest, where I still reside today.
It was here that I began fishing and tying flies for Steelhead, Salmon and western trout. I was very lucky to have met many tiers who possessed extraordinary skills with feathers and fur. These people also shared their secrets and techniques freely to me and others in the area. A tying surge began where style and sleekness of the flies took on a new character, and man did these flies work! My interest in this tying style led me to take a class in Atlantic Salmon Flies, I wanted a challenge, and man did I get it! The instructor was a good teacher, patient,clear, and would not let us move on until we got it right, fix it now or you will regret it later. Thank you John! He also introduced me to a fly tying club where Atlantic Salmon fly tying was the center of attention. The Northwest Atlantic Salmon Fly Guild. I still attend regular meetings with this fine group and I believe we have a membership of over 40 men and women learning this wonderful art, and sharing information freely. Come on up to the Northwest and visit us and we’ll “Tie one on”!
I’ve tied for almost 70 years. Mostly trout but the occasional saltwater pattern.
Thoroughly enjoyed your presentation at the PSFF meeting last night. Best program we’ve had in many years.
Just wanted to pass along my praise and hope to see you at the bench one day.