Our next featured tier is Dan Kowta - @nakashentoflies - who has some great stories to tell and is a great tier from California. Be sure to check out his Etsy shop as well -> NakashentoFlies. Kowta is a product designer which explains his excellent boxes that flies come in.
Dan does his own photography which is impressive!
"Part of the fun of tying for me is setting up the macro shot and trying to get a good portrait of the fly," said Kowta. "Of course, macro photography brings out all the flaws in a fly in glaring detail, so half the time I’ll see the fly up close and decide I have to tie another one. Actually, writing this and looking at some older photos I’m reminded of how much I miss my old camera which met its end in the Truckee River. Lately, I’ve been using my phone and a cheap clip-on macro lens for my photos which works OK, but it’s not quite as flexible as a decent camera with manual focus."
TH: When did you first begin fly fishing?
DK: I grew up fishing with a spinning rod, and didn’t discover fly fishing until after college. I fished a lot back then, but I’ve had lapses where I didn’t fish at all for years. Luckily, I think I’m done with the lapses. What was I thinking, anyway?
TH: What is your favorite river to fish?
DK: It’s really hard to pick one river because they all have such different attributes. I do like the challenge of the Truckee. Catching a fish there takes some work, but it’s very rewarding and I love being up in the Tahoe area.
DK: After I finished college I was kicking around in Central America and I met a guy from Colorado who told me stories of backpacking all over the rockies with a fly rod and funding his trips by tying and selling flies in bars along the way which sounded like a fantastic way to live. So I think I had an idea that fly fishing and fly tying could enable some kind of self-sustaining vagabond-beatnik lifestyle which really appealed to me at the time.
TH: What was the first fly pattern that you tied?
DK: Many months after I met the guy from Colorado I got myself to a fly shop. It was the now legendary Powells Fly Shop in Chico, CA (where I grew up.) I still didn’t know how to fly fish, but I knew I wanted my first fish on the fly to be caught with one I had tied, so I stood in front of a big wall of fly tying materials wondering what I was doing until another customer asked me if I had any idea what I was doing. I said no. The guy turned out to be a doctor who had come to the store to pick up a custom rod and, although he was in a hurry, he picked out the tools and materials I would need to tie the one fly that would get me going — the Elk Hair Caddis. He sat down at the shop vice and said, "I'm only doing this once, so watch closely," and proceeded to tie the caddis. This was way before the invention of YouTube and online tying videos, so I did watch very closely. Then I went home with my new stuff and began tying the Elk Hair Caddis. Over and over and over. Many terrible caddis flies were created in those days, but I wish I could thank that doctor because I could have easily left the shop thinking it was too much hassle to tie a fly. The key was that he showed me I didn’t need everything to start — just some basics and one solid pattern.
TH: What is your favorite fly pattern to tie?
DK: My favorites change all the time, but maybe my all-time favorite is the Parachute Adams. It’s one of those flies that’s easy to make variations of, and it just looks great, fishes great, and never gets old. I tie a variation called the Parachute Grizzly Adams which just uses grizzly hackle and adds some tinsel ribbing. It’s also a reference to the TV show, The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams. Remember that one? Anyone?
TH: Which fly pattern of yours are you most proud of?
DK: Any fly that I’ve tied that has caught someone else a fish has made me a happy camper. And I’m most proud when someone tells me he or she caught a bunch of fish on one fly and it’s still in the fly box.
TH: What has been your most memorable fly fishing experience?
DK: I’ll just never forget the first time I saw a fish rise for my fly. I was up on Deer Creek attempting to fly fish for the first time with one of my early and probably super awful looking caddis flies. I had read some instructional books on fly fishing, but I was basically clueless. And probably by accident my fly, drifting on a deep dark pool, brought a savage rainbow to the surface in a violent flash of silver and crimson. It scared the crap out of me. I had never experienced topwater action before. I felt like I had magically summoned the Kraken. I didn’t catch any fish that day, but I left feeling like fly fishing was a little bit supernatural.
TH: Anything else?
DK: Not sure if I would be tying so much today if it weren’t for the many superior tiers who influence and inspire me by sharing their works and knowledge on IG. I owe everything to them. I still consider myself a novice, but I enjoy talking fly craft, so feel free to DM me!
Also, be sure to check out our first article about Justin Bruce!