“Bar Flies!” took on a whole new meaning last week as members of the Kenai Peninsula Trout Unlimited (KPTU) and Sportsmen’s Warehouse teamed up for an evening of free Fly Tying instruction and demonstration at the Main Street Tap & Grill in Kenai. KPTU board member Mark Wackler and instructor Lee Kuepper were the hosts for evening along with Sportsmen’s Warehouse fishing department manager Tom Irwin. “I’m a beginner but Lee is the real instructor here tonight, as a KPTU board member we all support each other and this is an activity we’ve wanted to get started in the community to promote trout and salmon fly fishing on the Peninsula,” Wackler told the Dispatch in an interview. “Tonight’s event is a good relief from cabin fever which is at epidemic levels this time of year especially with the lack of winter weather. One of our goals at KPTU is to educate the public and host really fun events. Fly tying is growing in interest among people of all ages who love to fish or want to learn about fishing. Tying flies and enjoying a burger at a great place proved to be a big hit here tonight,” added Wackler.
“I believe having your own hand tied fly on the end of your line when you cast totally adds to the excitement and joy of fly fishing,” said Lee Kuepper, “It enhances the whole experience and like any hobby once you get started you work your way up to the level where you get the most enjoyment from what you’re doing and for me and a lot of fly fishers learning how to start out then tying your own flies and maybe eventually rod building and all the elements incorporated in the sport certainly adds to the love of it,” he said. For many years ladies have become interested in fly fishing as well as many of the traditional male dominated outdoor sports and now is the largest growing group of fishers in America, “As a matter of fact my finance out fishes me on a regular basis and we have a few moms and grand moms here tonight learning to tie right along with their kids and husbands,” said Kuepper.
Last week’s meeting was an open forum that included everything from tying your first fly to moderate skill level of fly tying. According to Kuepper a beginner can get started with enough equipment to begin tying flies for as little as fifty dollars. The fly tying vices and bobbins were supplied at no charge for everyone by Sportsmen’s Warehouse in Soldotna and fishing department manager Tom Irwin was personally on hand for the event, “We have everything that anyone would for fly tying at any level from beginners to advance, the vices, the bobbins, threads and all the materials including line and hooks as well as books with specifics of what fish hit what type of flies anywhere in the State of Alaska which are full of ideas for those who want the experience of tying their own flies,” said Irwin. You can learn more about Trout Unlimited by logging on to www.tu.org or liking the Kenai Peninsula Chapter of TU on Facebook.