Fly Fishing....the journey and why
As a young boy in the 1970's I first took up fishing at youth summer camp using a bamboo pole catching bluegills with bread as the bait. We were supposed to do other activites like swimming, various crafts, etc...but all I wanted to do was fish. I didn't come from a family of fellow fisherman. My education was not passed down from older generations but through personal experience and other neighborhood kids who would join me in my fishing adventures exploring local ponds we could on foot or by bicycle.
Life took me in other directions in my teens and fishing took a backseat to other pursuits. After graduating college with my degree in Art I focused on career followed by my own family which eventually grew to include 5 children of my own. As the children grew older and became more independent and not requiring constant supervision I found myself with free time. With that newly found free time I also re-found my love for fishing.
I would say the biggest difference between my fishing ventures now vs. those of my youth was advent of the internet and the wealth of knowledge one can gain on any subject almost instantly. The other change is my ability, financially, to go out and purchase just some of the millions of toys and gadgets one would leverage in this awesome sport.
Joining the world of Fly Fishing started out as just a curiosity initially. I started with an entry level 4 wt combo from BassPro that came pre-rigged and even a few flies to get you on the water. My original intention was to have fly fishing be just a part of the arsenal of a number of fishing options I could choose on any given day. Very quickly I found myself gravitating to Fly Fishing as my go to method of fishing to the point where probably 95+% of the time this is what I do. The one exception will be the occasional trips I take my Kayak on to Lake Michigan to troll for Coho and Steelhead in the early Sping and late Fall.
Tying my own flies is something where I have been able to use my art background to augment my fishing experience. I love being able to create my own unique variations on some of the very traditional patterns you would find elsewhere, as well as coming up with some patterns that are even more experimental in nature. Finding a balance between an aesthically pleasing fly and one that will actually catch fish can sometimes be challenging. I can't tell you how many times a fly has looked great on the vice only to spend a couple of hours in the water without nary a look from the fish!
At FlyKatFlies I showcase flies that have worked for me. Keep in mind that where I am in Chicagoland it's primarily warm water species in local ponds and rivers that I'm targeting. Native trout for me are 4+ hours away and something I only get to do a couple/few times a year. We do have a twice year stocking of Rainbow Trout in various waterways here....but for those a tuft of fur on a hook in the color of the trout nuggets they get fed in the hatchery is all you need ....that and finding where all the fish have congregated (typically right where the trucked dumped them in!). Will my patterns work on native trout or even saltwater species......yes, but if that's your typical fishing environment you'd probably know better than me which ones could work better than others. Definitely let me know as well. It'll save me a lot of time trying to figue it for myself when I do get to hit those "other" types of water. For Panfish and Bass...especially Smallmouth I have had good success with the flies you'll see on the shop. I hope to add some good flies for Pike but need to do a little more testing and refining of those patterns. Definitely a lot of those "great looking flies on the vice" examples here.....now I just need to make sure they can catch some of those toothy critters, and can stay intact enough to catch some more!
Stay tuned for additional blog posts where I hope to share my experiences fly fishing here in the midwest as well as features on specific fly patterns I have in the shop and the techniques I've used with them to have success on the water.
Steve w/ FlyKatFlies