TH: When did you first begin fly fishing?
LP: I believe I was around 12 years old the first time I actually recall casting, or attempting to cast a fly rod. I remember growing up watching my grandfather fly fish whether it was in his home waters of Pennsylvania or on vacation to Maine. I inherited his gear when he passed away and I began to tinker with it. That first day of fishing was at a friends home in Florida with a pond in the backyard. I caught my first fish on a fly that day, it was a small war-mouth that decided to crush a small green popper I had tied on. That take, and the tug, well it’s been addicting since.
TH: What led to your decision to start tying flies?
LP: I began tying flies a couple of years before casting a fly rod. I had read some books and watched some old VHS LL Bean fly fishing videos that were my grandfathers. I asked for a fly tying kit that year for my 10th birthday. I recall watching those videos and just looking over the materials I had, there was just something about making something so beautiful and functional by simply wrapping feathers on a hook with thread. I also seemed to always live in areas that didn’t have fly shops anywhere near them so once I really started fly fishing it was a necessity. As with anything though catching something on a pattern that you tied up yourself gives such a feeling of accomplishment that a shop bought fly just can’t compare to.
TH: What was the first fly pattern that you tied?
LP: My first pattern was a buck-tail black ghost streamer. I actually still have the fly and stumbled on it not long ago in one of my boxes. It wasn’t anything amazing, obviously, but the feeling I got from creating my own fly was great. The kit that I received had pattern recipes for that streamer, hare’s ear nymph, wooly buggers and I believe a Griffiths gnat or zug bug, this would have been around 1995-1996 so I pretty much stuck with those patterns for a while and whatever else I could find in some of the tying books that were given to me. I look with envy to the kids that are starting to tie now with the amount of information that they have at their fingertips due to the internet.
TH: What is your favorite fly pattern to tie?
LP: Caddis Pupa and scuds! Haha. I really enjoy tying up any type of caddis imitation, but pupas are my bread and butter. I’m constantly trying new materials to get that buggy look and always trying to take them to the next level. With todays materials especially UV resin, the possibilities are limitless in my eyes. I’ve been using Gullf resins exclusively now for almost a year and they’ve really stepped up my tying game from creating eyes to shells and legs.
TH: Which fly pattern of yours are you most proud of?
LP: The patterns that catch fish regularly and the ones that turn a bleak day into a good day of fishing. I mean I am proud of my caddis imitations, and my feather-wing streamers, but I don’t try and rename something or try to market it as something totally new because they have so many elements of other ties in them, I think of them more as variants. I tie up a really simple bead head scud thing imitation, I mean its literally two pieces of peacock herl wrapped behind a brass bead, that was the fly I caught my first landlocked on the fly with, and a few right after that first one. So maybe I would consider that one my proudest just because I tried to simplify an existing pattern and it worked for the exact thing I needed it for.
TH: What has been your most memorable fly fishing experience?
LP: It's funny that you ask this question because it was only two days ago that I had a fishing experience that would get chalked up as my most memorable. My oldest daughter who is 9 came out of the blue and asked about fly fishing and trying to cast. I rigged up my 9 foot 5 weight and took her into the backyard and gave her some pointers the best I could. She practiced for a good hour or two and really surprised me by being able to get a decent 20 foot or so cast, so I figured what better way to really get a feel for it than heading right to the stream. she insisted on tying up her very first fly for the trip so after she spun up a root beer retriever I drove her up to Grand Lake Stream and set her right in the middle of it. I fished a bit next to her but watched her more than anything because I saw the excitement in her eyes that I had around the same age. She remembered the pointers I gave her and did very well between casting, mending and untangling. She was a little bummed because she didn’t connect on any trout or salmon but I saw a few bumps and stops in her line while she fished so I knew she at least got a few bites, it’ll just take a little time to put everything together. Driving home she talked about fishing the whole time and the next time we could go again, that right there far surpassed any big fish I have caught or any other story or experience that I have with fly fishing. Passing knowledge and passion of fly tying and fishing is what its all about to me, I have had and will have great times with this sport but sharing that so someone else can do the same, well there’s nothing that compares to that.
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