By Joseph Horn
Sitting at a table full of odd tools, small bags of fur, bits of squirrel tails, and skins full of hen feathers, eight College of the Atlantic faculty and students hunch over tiny hooks tying a traditional soft hackle wet fly. “Most fly-tying workshops will teach tyers specific patterns,” explained Joe Horn to the group, “but me? I prefer to teach the methods of fly-tying and the basic styles of different flies.”
After a half hour of furled brows, broken feathers, and snapped threads, the participants put a final half-hitch onto the heads of their new flies, snipped their tying thread, and sat back and stared at their accomplishments with satisfied smiles. At the end of the workshop, Joe asked the group if any were interested in continuing fly-tying on their own. All hands eagerly went up.
This past summer, Downeast Salmon Federation (DSF), in collaboration with Maine Outdoor School, was awarded a grant through the Maine Community Foundation to provide thirty fly-tying workshops across Washington and Hancock Counties. Both DSF and MOS strongly believe that a connection to the traditional handcraft of fly-tying will fuel a passion for fisheries conservation.
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