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Monday, November 28, 2011

Fish Need Not Fear Me

Bennett Spring, Lebanon, MO
“Shall we take the fly-tying class?”

“We don’t have a clue what we’re doing,” my husband Everett commented. So the next morning we arrived to learn something new.
It was a tough decision to pass up the beautiful fall morning and the natural wonders of Bennett Spring State Park in Lebanon, Missouri. However it’s the perfect place to learn fly-tying because it is famed for its excellent trout fishing. Missouri’s third largest spring pumps 100 million gallons of fresh cold water into the Niangua River every day. The Niangua flows through the park. The state stocks the river with trout. The fishermen come.

Where do I begin?
In the classroom in front of each chair, the fly-tying rig, feathers and yarn awaited us. I didn’t even know where to begin.
While we waited for class, we met the other students and the group tossed around wise-cracks about our fly-tying talent – or lack thereof. Jim Rogers, our hands-on instructor and concessionaire of the park, set out to show us the “how to” and promised we’d all have a fly to take home by the time the class ended.

“Sure looks easy when he does it,” one of the students observed.
“It just takes practice,” Jim assured us. “Watch while I show you step-by-step.”

It did look easy. His nimble fingers wrapped fishing line, yarn and feathers around the hook, turning it into something that would tantalize a fish.
“Now it’s your turn,” Jim said. “Just take it slow.”

Not only did I have a problem with which way and when to wrap what where, but when I made a decision my fingers didn’t want to go where I wanted them to go.
“It’s going to be a long learning curve,” I noted to no one in particular. With yarn falling helter-skelter through the fishing line I wrapped around it, I knew this sad-looking thing wouldn’t attract the hungriest fish.

“Let’s unwrap it and start over,” Jim suggested as he tried unsuccessfully to hide a smile.
“I’m all thumbs,” I admitted.

“Here, wrap the yarn around the shank of the hook and I’ll hold it while you wrap the fishing line from the other end,” he offered. I heard my husband’s laughter.
“Ignore him,” Jim said. “He’s making a really ugly fat fly.” I laughed and looked; sure enough, it didn’t look much better than mine.


With a lot of help and laughter we finished our flies. Jim laughed and made comments about each one as he boxed them up. With every comment, he interlaced a tidbit of information about fly-fishing. At the end of the class, he offered to teach us fly-casting. That’s another story…

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