Faith and my family are what come first in my life, but fly fishing connects me with both, and my time alone on a stream with a fly rod in my hand end up being the moments when I most clearly understand who I am, and how I am blessed to be here to serve others. My father was a South Dakota dairy farmer, and he took my siblings and I fishing and hunting from the time we could toddle. I bought my first fly rod in 1986 at age 15, but I couldn't figure out how to use it until my grandfather showed me how to cast correctly. He let me borrow his fly rod, which showed me that mine wasn't very good. He gave it to me to keep a year later, and it is one of my most cherished possessions, even though nobody else would see much value in it. He died on the weekend that I graduated from college, but I still feel connected with him if I'm fishing with his rod, especially if I'm pursuing bluegills, which was his favorite quarry. Now I have my children of my own, and I want them to see the world not only through my eyes but through the eyes of their grandparents and great-grandparents. My father was still alive to go fishing with all three of my children, though my youngest was too young to remember. I have been taking each of them fishing with me since before they could walk. All three are learning how to tie flies and cast a fly rod, but they still prefer Zebcos and jigs. Only my daughter is patient enough to stick with it when the fish aren't biting, but I wasn't very patient either when I was young. When my wife needs some time at home, alone, I load up the kiddos and take them trout fishing in East Verdigre Creek, just across the border in Nebraska where the stocked rainbows are usually cooperative, but they're just as excited to play in the stream as they are to catch a fish. Our family's weekend get-aways are often centered around a couple of nights in the Black Hills, where I wade Rapid Creek, Spearfish Creek, and the streams of Custer State Park, all the while haunted by the memories of fishing the same streams with my father and brothers when I was growing up. My kids prefer the reservoirs and ponds, the same as I did when I was their age.
My wife's parents live in northern Virginia, so visits to Teta (Arabic for "Grandma") and Grandpa also mean that I get to fall in love again with the beautiful rivers and streams of Virginia. Whether smallmouth fishing in the Rappahannock, Rapidan, and Shenandoah, or trout fishing in and around Shenandoah National Park, it now feels like a second fly fishing home. My wife and I are teachers, and we have lived and traveled all over the world, and I have always taken fishing gear along with me wherever I have gone. I have fished in the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan, the Tien Shan of Kazakhstan, and tilapia ponds in China, but now I mostly stalk the local ponds for bass and bluegills with my kiddos. Life has many seasons, and soon my children will want to see the world on their own, and hopefully I'll be able to see some of that with them, and when I do, I will remember to pack a fly rod, waders, and a few boxes of flies.
My oldest son was born in 2010, and I began tying flies almost immediately afterwards. Something about tying flies has made me more passionate about fly fishing as a whole, and I have been an apostle of fly fishing and fly tying ever since, helping family, friends, students, and strangers get started. I have tied enough flies for a couple of lifetimes, and I have enough fly tying materials for several lifetimes more, so I justify it all by giving away flies to any kids who ask me what I'm using, including some "kids" who have gray hair and reading glasses. I have set up fly tying stations in my classrooms as a reward for students for whatever occasion fits my need, and I try to take my students out to the local pond at the end of each year, or as often as they ask me. I have a stockpile of fly fishing gear that I have purchased to help teach others how to catch fish on the fly, and I still buy and sell more than I should ... according to my wife. I have had fly rods in almost every price range, and I love trying out new gear and techniques. I took up Euronymphing a few years ago, and I have been using a switch rod for bass for the past couple years, and now I am getting my children hooked on Tenkara fishing, which is a fantastic way to keep things simple while catching fish, whether a child who is first learning or an adult who comes back around to loving the simpler things in life.
If you are looking for anything related to fly fishing, I would _love _to help you. Whatever your price point, and whatever your preference, it is my passion to help people find the right equipment to enjoy the greatest pastime ever given to us by God: fly fishing. I want to see pictures of you, smiling, catching fish.