On the fly
Sometimes getting ready for a day in the great outdoors means putting in some time indoors, as a group of area youth learned Tuesday night.
The boys leaned over tables at the Adult Community Center, carefully wrapping thread around the fish hooks clamped in place on vises. Getting the hang of the tools was tricky, but the results were worth it. Daniel Bauer tied a final knot and picked up his first fishing fly.
“There’s no fish in the world that isn’t going to come up and eat that fly,” instructor Nick Simonson said in approval.
The lesson in fly-tying was part of the Lyon County Pheasants Forever spring youth fishing program. Participants got hands-on experience tying trout flies, as well as learning about the fish and their environment. This year, the class was made up of kids from both the Marshall area, and as far away as Hendricks and Lake Shetek.
The boys all said they liked fishing but not all of them had tried fly fishing before.
Bauer said he joined the fishing program to go along with Scouting.
“It’s for a merit badge,” he said.
Other students, like Jordan Schroeder, had some experience already. Schroeder said he’s been tying flies for about a year. He got into it in order to try trout fishing.
“It’s mostly the fish. There aren’t too many ways to catch trout,” Schroeder said. Plus, he said, “It’s a nice hobby to have.”
Brothers Lane and Dillon VanErdewyk said they heard about the fishing program from their grandparents and asked to be signed up.
“It’s something that’s interesting for any kid,” said Vernard VanErdewyk, the boys’ grandfather.
Simonson, the president of LCPF and a fly fisherman himself, taught the boys how to tie basic flies like the SHWAPF – short for “swept hackle wing all-purpose fly” – and the easy nymph.
“And why’s it called an easy nymph?” Simonson asked the class.
“I don’t know . . . because it’s easy?” Lane VanErdewyk said.
“Right,” said Simonson.
Learning the basics of starting and finishing the nymph wasn’t always so easy, however. The boys had plenty of questions, and sometimes needed some extra hands. Dillon VanErdewyk teamed up with his brother to figure out how to use tools like the whip finisher.
“It is kinda complicated,” Dillon said.
To make their flies, the boys used equipment kits provided by LCPF. The kits were purchased through a DNR grant and made it possible to have the fly-tying class, Simonson said. The spring fishing program will culminate with a trip to Camden State Park for the trout fishing opener on Saturday, April 13.
“Last year, eight out of 10 kids caught their first trout,” Simonson said. He said a trip to do some fishing at a local pond was also planned – provided the weather cooperates. Right now, he said, “We’ve got ice on the pond.”
As the boys continued to work, it was clear part of the fun of the class was being able to take pride in their workmanship. Kaden Strate finished his second fly, one with long, feathery wings before saying, “This thing is awesome.”