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Help us support disabled veterans as they navigate the isolation and uncertainty of COVID-19

Now in its 8th year, the Project Healing Waters Fly Tying Competition is focused on expanding the therapeutic experience for PHWFF disabled veterans participants by giving them the opportunity to showcase their fly tying skills and creativity in a fun contest.

Join us in celebrating the talents of all those PHWFF participants who submitted flies this year!

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 8th Annual Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing National Fly Tying Competition! Following an exciting Public Judging Round (during which over 1,800 votes were cast!), six finalists in each category proceeded to the Finals Round to be judged by an expert panel who determined 1st, 2nd & 3rd place in each category. The panel used the following criteria to score the flies and determine the winners: Color Harmony, Scale and Proportion, Material Use, Technique, Proper Thread Use, and Overall Style.


Category 1: Beginner

This category is for participants new to fly tying with less than one year of fly tying experience.

3rd Place

Franklin Scaletti: Copper John variation | PHWFF Phoenix, AZ

I enjoy the challenging aspect of fly tying. I also find it very relaxing. I used a size 14 Wet/Nymph hook with 1/8”gold bead and 10 wraps of .015” lead-free wire for weight. I added goose biots for the tail, then wrapped small gold wire for the body. Then I used peacock herl, pearl flashabou, and black thinskin for the thorax. I then used a soft hen hackle feather for the wings, and finished the fly with a whip finish and UV glue on top of the thorax to complete the fly.

Franklin Scaletti

2nd Place

Sgt. Joseph D Noe: OIF Stimulator | PHWFF Knoxville, TN

Fly tying has given me a break from the anxiety and stress that comes with living with PTSD daily. It has given me the ability to not focus on the daily pain and mental issues that arise from war trauma by being able to put the fly in the forefront of my thoughts. Fly tying has not only become a hobby but it has created a mindset that will help in the future.

This specific fly is designed to honor the Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom with making the body the campaign ribbon issued to vets of OIF. The body is traditionally made of dubbing and hackle wrapped around.

Sgt. Joseph D Noe

1st Place

MistyAnn Miller: Copper John | PHWFF Royersford PA

I like the arts and crafts aspect to it. I am not much of a fly fisherman but I do enjoy arts and crafts, which is a statement that drives a lot of fly fisherman crazy. I like the use of different materials and often tie the same fly with different materials. I suffer from insomnia and bad dreams; I don’t sleep well. Instead of laying there thinking about why I am not sleeping well I go to the basement and tie flies.

The four flies you see are the best representation of approx 50 flies I tied, which I intend to lose in a stream one day, probably in a tree. I could not decide between the straight bodied or tapered body, but in the end I went with tapered body because it’s more buggy. I want to ask for a moment of silence for my hen who gave her life, to make these flies possible

MistyAnn Miller

Category 2: Intermediate

This category is for participants with two to three years of fly tying experience.

3rd Place

James Jordan: Never-Sink October Caddis/Hopper | PHWFF Togus, ME

Fly tying is a part of the journey of catching fish! It’s easy to buy flies but it’s far more gratifying to catch a trout on a fly you’ve tied yourself. I love trying to tie new patterns that I see and I’ve developed my own style of flies that I use effectively!

Hook: Firehole 419 sz. 12 Body: Amber Dry Fly Dubbing for buoyancy topped with Sulphur Orange Dubbing Foam: 2mm Thick 1/4” wide orange foam strip Underwing: Rainbow Flashabou Wing: Bleached Elk Body Hair Legs: Centipede Legs, Speckled Hot Orange, Medium Thread: Veevus 16/0 Olive

James Jordan

2nd Place

Jason Farrar: Hand Carved Balsa Popper | PHWFF Conroe, TX

While I was a fly fisherman, I didn’t tie flies until I was involved in PHWFF. I’ve learned that it’s one of the few ways that I can absolutely clear my head. I have severe anxiety, but it’s not an issue when I’m tying flies. It’s literally a break from anxiety.

The body- Tied an a Size 1 Umpqua U505 hook. I carved the body from a square block of balsa wood using only a chisel and sandpaper. The eyes are Cabelas, and the paint is Wapsi lacquer. This is finished with Flexcoat lure finish. The tail- I used Wapsi white marabou, Hareline Dubbin red Krystal Flash, and Whiting grizzly saddle hackle.

Jason Farrar

1st Place

James Boden: Uncle Sam | PHWFF Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Fly tying allows me to clear my mind, escape from my disability and medication side-effects. Incorporating it into my life has healed me more than any pill or rehab.

This pattern is my own that I developed to pay homage to America: 9xl Mustad classic streamer hook, White 8/0 thread, Red/White/Blue American rooster hackles, Red/White/Blue Ostrich herl, Red/White/Blue floss, Red/White/Blue bucktail, Blue Coq de Leon, Red Chinese hackle, Jungle cock body and nail feathers, Elmer’s rubber cement, Loon hard head. To tie; Match feathers and assemble/glue wings. Dress the hook and tie in the following– hackle for tail, herl for rear accent, floss for the body & rib, bucktail for belly/throat, pre-made wings, strip head, and finish.

James Boden

Category 3: Advanced

This category is for participants with four or more years of fly tying experience.

3rd Place

Chris Koontz: Brown trout micro changer | PHWFF Winston-Salem, NC

I am a 53 year old Army Vet, married, started fly fishing for trout in 1985, evolved to chasing muskies on the fly.

The challenge of the micro changers and time involved in the tying, trimming and coloring give you a much greater sense of satisfaction than with most flies.

Chris Koontz

2nd Place

Bernard Gary King: Beadhead Prince Nymph | PHWFF Conroe TX

Fly tying takes my mind off other things and helps me get lost in something creative. It gives me something to complete, whether it is one fly or this competition.

Hook: Daiichi 1710, size 12. Bead: Gold tungsten bead, size 2.7mm. Weight: Non-lead wire, size .015. Thread: Brown UNI-Thread, 8/0. Tail: Brown goose biots. Rib: Medium gold wire. Body: Peacock herl. Hackle: Brown Hen Neck. Wings: White goose biots. Glue: Fly-Tite Fly tying cement

Bernard Gary King

1st Place

John Rogers: TS Pheasant Tail | PHWFF Altoona, PA

The thing I enjoy most about fly tying is the ability to create and release stress throughout a creative outlet. The art of tying allows me to express myself in the form of the intricate flies I may choose to tie and allow me to feel gratification when I see my creation placed snuggly in the corner of a trout’s jaw.

The hook is a size 14 3x long TCO Nymph, UTC 70 Ultra Thread in red, 3mm red bead, lead free wire in .015, UTC hot yellow small wire, bleached ginger pheasant tail, hens cape, orange peacock herl and UTC black holographic tinsel in medium. The rotary function of my vice was used to attached the wire and body. I used the saddle and the thread together to strengthen the saddle while tying it in. The hot spot was created by doing repeated whip finish’s to build up a noticeable collar.

John Rogers

The PHWFF Fly Tying Competition has grown each year since it’s inception in 2012 and since that time we have been delighted and astounded to see the remarkable patterns and flies submitted from PHWFF programs across the country.  A special thanks to all those volunteers and programs who made this annual competition such a success.

Join us in celebrating the tremendous talents of all those PHWFF participants who participated this year!


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