Tying one on: Fly-fishing club offering free fly-tying classes (+video)

Free Kansas fly tying lessons

Flatland Fly Fishers invite the public to learn how to tie flies for fishing in Kansas. (By Michael Pearce)
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Flatland Fly Fishers invite the public to learn how to tie flies for fishing in Kansas. (By Michael Pearce)

Dottie Thompson is quick to show photos of the three-pound trout she caught recently at Slough Creek. As well as the trout’s size, she’s equally proud of the fly she used for the catch.

“It made it all a lot more exciting that I caught it on a fly I tied myself,” said Thompson, who has only been into fly-fishing less than two years.

The Flatland Fly Fishers and the Great Plains Nature Center hope to help more anglers experience that same thrill, with free fly-tying classes every Friday afternoon from 2-4:30 p.m. at the Nature Center.

Flatland Fly Fishers invite the public to learn how to tie flies for fishing in Kansas. (By Michael Pearce)

Rick Brown is one of the club’s main fly-fishing instructors.

“People can just show up. The club furnishes all of the equipment and materials,” said Brown, minutes after helping beginner Doug Meyer tie a fly worthy of local bass or walleye. “There’s no such thing as being too much of a beginner.”

Thompson said she’s a prime example, having never fly-fished until attending a women-only fly-tying clinic. It was love at first cast.

“The whole thing just seems so much more regal than other kinds of fishing,” she said, “and you never have to worry about putting a worm on a hook.” The tying classes have been invaluable because her skills, and equipment, are both very basic.

“These guys are very generous with their material and their knowledge,” she said, after club member Spencer Percival helped her with the fine points of tying a Clouser, a weighted fly that can be used for bass and other sizable fish. Those with more experience, and materials, can benefit, too.

Tom Simon has been tying for about three years, but picks up pointers from more experience anglers at the gatherings. As well as standard flies, like Clousers and woolly buggers, students can learn some patterns local anglers have developed through the years.

As others tied Clousers, master fly fisherman Gale Brown worked on creations he’s developed for catching wipers at El Dorado and Cheney reservoirs. The bodies are made from a synthetic material that casts easily, even in the wind. The flies feature a tiny weight at the end of a short section of line that hangs below the fly. That small weight, he said, keeps the point of the hook above the fly during the retrieve, greatly reducing the number of times he gets snagged and has to tie on a new fly.

Brown said the club also helps with fly-tying classes at Zeiner’s, Bass Shop, 737 S. Washington, at 7 p.m. the third Tuesday of every month. Since the Nature Center’s closing at 5 p.m. limits some who work from attending classes, the club is looking for an additional location to meet in the evenings.

“We need to find a location that’s low cost for us, and has plenty of good lighting,” he said. “A lot of bars in Colorado let people get together and tie. We’d like to have a place where we can tie, and have a meal together and maybe an adult beverage. We’re looking.”

No matter where the classes are held, attendees can expect to hear plenty of fish stories from Brown, Percival, Thompson and other regulars.

“Oh, you can believe everything you hear is true,” Percival said, “just ask us.”

Brown said most experienced fly-tiers can learn from the classes, too.