Flying through Fly-Tying

by Joe Horn
Co-Founder/Co-CEO/Naturalist Educator

It is hard to believe that just a short year ago MOS and Downeast Salmon Federation (DSF) were setting out to provide 30 fly-tying workshop across Washington and Hancock counties all based on a small pilot event which showed promising interest. The goal of this workshop series was to engage the local community in fisheries conservation through the traditional handcraft of fly-tying. As of the writing of this article, we delivered 27 fly-tying workshops and anticipate wrapping up this series with four more before the end of July 2019.

Joe doing a workshop for the Eastern Maine Skippers Program. Photo courtesy of Maine Community Foundation.

Joe doing a workshop for the Eastern Maine Skippers Program. Photo courtesy of Maine Community Foundation.

It is hard to pull out all the highlights from such a broad-sweeping program series, but we can easily start by breaking down the numbers. To date, we have had over 300 people tie flies with us, totaling over 500 flies tied. We anticipate about 50 more participants as we round out the final workshops in the next few weeks.

We found a 71% increase in people who wanted to continue tying flies and a 51% increase in the number of people who wanted to volunteer for DSF as a result of these workshops. While we observed a 71% increase in folks interested in continuing fly-tying, we were surprised and delighted to find that coming out of these workshops a whopping 90% of all participants wanted to continue fly tying. Clearly this is a handcraft and art that resonated with the overwhelming majority of participants.

During one workshop, there was a young student (not the student pictured above) who immediately began explaining how she was clumsy, bad at things, and would probably do really poorly at fly-tying. Halfway through her first fly, she looked up from her vise and said, “wow, this is really fun.” For the rest of the workshop, she was meticulous, asked thoughtful clarifying questions, never seemed rushed, took her time to master each step, and would even go back to previous steps until the fly looked “right” to her eye.

Fly-tyers at our workshop at Cohill’s Inn in Lubec

Fly-tyers at our workshop at Cohill’s Inn in Lubec

At the end of the workshop, she lingered to ask a series of questions about how to order the kits, how much they cost, and what it takes to get set up as a professional fly-tyer. She even attended a second workshop at a different venue. She was a natural and may not have found out about her passion for fly-tying had it not been for this workshop series funded by the Belvedere Traditional Handcrafts Fund.

While we are putting a cap on this workshop series, MOS will continue providing fly-tying workshops to interested groups in the area. So if you want to try your hand at the craft, check in periodically on our events page or on our Facebook page for upcoming public workshops. If you are looking for MOS to provide your group with a fly-tying workshop, please reach out to us directly to inquire about program fees and scheduling.

Do you know someone who would be interested in MOS programming? Learn more about our Educational Programs and contact us!

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