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At the beginning of 2020, in conjunction with the Mid-Willamette Valley Program, we developed a fly tying program for new members. It’s a three level program starting off with a 20 minute video called, Fly Tying 101. This arms the tier with the basics required to start fly tying like hook anatomy, how to put a hook into the jaws, starting thread, thread selection, etc.

After the tiers complete Fly Tying 101, they’re ready to start Level I, which consists of six flies. These flies were chosen primarily to teach a fly tying skill, but they also work here in Pacific Northwest, so the tiers are building a fly box at the same time. Once the tiers complete Level I, they continue onto Level II, which is another six flies and teaches more advanced skills. Level III consists of workshops where we’ll offer the tiers a type of fly fishing, Euronymph, Steelhead, Stillwater, etc., and they go through that level tying flies, practical application with outings, and culminates in building a rod for the type of fishing selected.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our state’s stay-at-home order, and PHWFF HQ announcement of no public meetings, we initiated our Level I tying program through MS Teams. Our Tying Leader, Rick Davidson, put together packets for fly number one, mailed them out, and this last Wednesday, 7 May, at 1900 hrs PST, we held our first session. Rick did a great job and all the new fly tiers were able to follow along and tie two flies. The packets they received had enough material in each one to tie five flies, so they can practice on their own. The new fly tiers have been emailing pictures of the flies they tied on their own and Rick has been providing them feedback. It’s not the ideal way to teach fly tying, but in these weird times we’re providing the best healing we can. Rick is also setting up one-one Teams meeting with tiers as needed.

Lessons learned from this first session for any other Program that is planning on doing this:

  • Do a full dress rehersal before going live. We did this and it really helped working out angles & lighting.
  • Bring all participants in for a quick Teams meeting and get them acquainted with options & settings. Showing them ahead of time how to pin the instructors screen will save a lot of time and allow you to get straight to tying.
  • During your pre-tying Teams meeting make sure you tell your people Teams only shows the last four participants who spoke. We had 11 people in our meeting, but you can see in the video only four are shown. That’s why it’s important the tiers know how to pin the instructor’s screen!

Next week we’ll do fly number two of Level I. After that, we’ll take a break from tying and bring in the rest of the Program and provide an educational session teaching Entomology for fly fishing. Finally, we couldn’t make all this happen without the help of the Puget Sound Fly Co. They got us all the material for the packets we sent out.