July 14th, 2008

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

Dear Mr. Campbell
By Tregg Hartley, Newport News, VA

Mr. Campbell,
I have a story to share with you. I have been an avid fisherman since age 5, I'm now 45. I grew up in Iowa, fishing the Missouri, Big Sioux and Little Sioux Rivers. There were also too many farm ponds and small lakes to count. I had a fly rod as a youth, but never took much of an interest in it. After high school, I joined the Navy and saw the world. I continued to fish through the years, but never picked up a fly rod. I am now "retired" from the Navy and living in Newport News, Va.

For my 45th birthday, my wife bought me a fly tying kit. I wanted to give it a try and see if I would enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I had bought a few books prior to the kit, and I had cruised FAOL a few times so I would know where to start. I have been through the Beginning Fly Tying tutorial on FAOL. I started with lesson one and moved forward from there. The first flies looked like a science project gone bad, but in time they actually started looking like the pictures! I have tied a few of the intermediate patterns and a few from the books. I am really starting to get the hang of it.

Well, the real story happen a week ago on Father's Day. I finally worked up the courage to hit one of our local lakes to see if any of the flies I had tied would catch fish. I decided to start with Bluegills. If I could entice a few 'gills' into taking what I was offering, I would be encouraged to pursue fly fishing and tying still further. Father's Day was a warm, sunny day. I got to the lake around 3PM. I was using a 6.5 foot 4wt rod with a 2lb leader. I tried a few different patterns, but nothing was happening. I notice that there some Bluegills under the dock I was standing on and sent Hare's Ear Nymph up under there. It took a bit of a side arm cast, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. All of a sudden I was catching one fish after another. There were a few kids on the dock with their dad, and I shared the other Hare's Ear Nymphs I had with them. They had spin casting outfits, but were able to drop the fly straight down and catch fish. The kids and their dad thought it was pretty neat that I tied the flies they were using.

I guess it was the 4th Bluegill I caught that dove for deeper water as soon as he was hooked. I didn't realize it at the time, but there were some nice sized Bass under that dock. A three pounder decided to make a dinner of my Bluegill. The Bluegill came off the hook, but the Bass didn't. He gave me the fight of my life on that little fly rod. After about a five minute fight, he came to the surface and I walked him to the shore. (He would have easily broke the leader lifting him up on the dock.) The kids all got to see him up close and then we released him.

When it was time to leave, the children and their father thanked me. I let them keep the nymph's for their next trip to the lake. I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Thank you for the tutorials. You make the art of fly tying learnable for this old salt. I look forward to learning new patterns and coming up with some of my own. My next trip to the lake will see the use of some cat's eyes, woolly buggers and muddlers. I am eye-balling a heavier rig to play with the Bass, but for now the light rig will do. After some more actual casting/fishing experience, I will try my hand at some of Virginia's trout waters. I will let you know what happens. Once again, thank you for the time you spent creating the tutorials. Thank all of you for FAOL.

Tregg Hartley
Newport News, Va.

Publisher's Note: Yes, I wrote Tregg and let me know Al Campbell had passed on. He kindly gave me permission to use his letter to Al here. Look for more from Tregg in the future. DLB

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