Mend Provisions, my local fly shop, is the reason I’m into fly fishing. I was given my first spin casting rod and reel when I was three and began fly fishing when I was six or so. My form was awful, but the panfish didn’t seem to care how the fly got to the water. That’s all it was. I would infrequently use my dad’s fly rod and stayed with spin casting. Northerns put up a better fight than panfish anyways. With that, I would fish lakes over rivers. My dad and I bought trout stamps when I was 12 during a fishing dream of grandeur. We never even approached moving water that year. Then, last year, I got word of a fly shop opening in my Minneapolis neighborhood. Exploration was required.
I was instantly enamored.
A few weeks after first setting foot in the shop, I purchased my first fly rod. This spring, summer and fall were spent on the river. Without any formal casting lessons, my form still sucks. Unlike panfish, trout seem to care about this.
One theme was present all season: Weekly or biweekly trips to Mend to buy flies. Midwest rivers are lined with trees and brush. Between snags and keeping up with hatches, my empty fly box needed bugs. It was time to create what I buy.
Mend’s Facebook page posted an event for beginner fly tying. As someone with zero fly tying experience, I found this event particularly personalized. In fact, you could say it matched my exact (novice) specifications.
Before I move on, I would like to point out the presence of beverages in the above photo, on the table and behind the cash register. It’s why I love this shop.
Eight of us showed up for the class. Mike, the owner of the shop, taught the course for us beginners. Beer was provided because, hey, tying flies requires patience. A $20 fee covered supplies as well.
The plan was to learn to tie three types of flies, which is great, because the first fly I tied was awful (the one on the far left in the image below). When it comes to bugs, trout have standards and they are higher than mine. The flies I tied that night wouldn’t meet them. My second fly (the one on the far right) definitely wouldn’t catch a fish. The materials we used for these bugs included pheasant tail feathers, peacock feathers, black thread, a bead and thin wires of copper and red. The third bug I tied is actually one of my favorite flies. If I have a nymph tied on, it is likely I’ve got this guy in red or chartreuse. I’ve caught some of my bigger browns on flies just like it.
After a two hours of tying flies, my skills drastically improved. I still wouldn’t be able to tie any of these without instruction, but I did gain appreciation for anyone who regularly ties flies (and catches fish with them). Next time Mend Provisions hosts a class for beginners, you’ll find me there.