We were lucky enough to connect with the fly tying extraordinaire, Brad Kohlbrecher. Brad belongs to the fly fishing group, Ozark Fly Fishers,
who are based in Missouri. The club meets at least once a month to discuss topics related to fly fishing, fly tying, and the conservation of local waters. They host numerou
s events each year. Their latest one is an annual banquet and auction, where all proceeds will go towards funding guest speakers, conservation programs and educational programs for the year to come. Read on to learn about why fly tying has Brad “hooked”.
Where do you find inspiration for your flies?
When we are planning our flies we go out to the streams and collect local insects and put them in ice cube trays to preserve them. We try to tie our flies to mimic what the fish are eating. When you put a hook in a vice it is basically a clean canvas and you can create whatever you desire.
How would you define your fly tying style?
The best part about fly tying is that I get to experiment. One of my favorite things to do is to go to Michaels
and get the “googly” eyes and put them on the flies to make them look like cartoons. I often do this project with kids. Here in Missouri we have an event where kids can fish for free on some weekends. There is no better feeling than catching a fish on something that you created.
How did you get started in fly tying?
There are a lot of YouTube videos that help you learn how to tie flies. To begin with, you can buy a small kit and gradually add to it. Most of the fly fishing shops have clinics where people will sit down and show you how to do different techniques or even teach you how to tie your first fly.
What is the most challenging part of fly tying?
After a while of tying your eyes get extremely tired. We usually use some kind of magnifying glasses because of this. A lot of the materials tend to break, especially when tying small flies because the material is so fine and the work is so detailed. It is just like anything- some days everything goes right and some days you couldn’t tie your shoes if you wanted to.
How long have you been fly tying?
I started back in ’95. It is crazy that it has been almost twenty years!
How did you get into fly fishing/tying?
When I finished college I was working with a bunch of guys that would fly fish and I started going with them. We would go fishing about 5 or 6 times a year and we had so much fun that we eventually wanted to learn how to tie our own flies. The fish like to see something unique; when you are at a state park so many people are using the same flies.
How much do you fly fish?
Since I started my own business I haven’t had as much time to go. Fly fishing has taken a back seat lately and I only get to go about three or four times a year. Most of our members are retired and get to go all the time.
Where is your favorite place to fish?
There are so many! Some of my favorites are: Arkansas at the White River, Colorado at Rocky Mountain National Park… I mostly stick to fishing in Missouri where we have smaller trout streams. My next adventure will hopefully be in Montana. The thing about fly fishing is that it doesn’t take you to ugly places, they are always beautiful.
Does the temperature affect the fishing?
Depending on the weather sometimes it can be crazy cold. At times it gets so cold that your line will freeze up. The good thing about the chilly temperatures is that there are not as many people. I have had plenty of friends that have struck others in the ear or the back of the neck with their hooks because they are so close to each other.
Can you tell us more about the Ozark Fly Fishers Club?
We are all volunteers and we do everything from monitoring our three watersheds that we take care of to planting trees in our community. We even have a summer program about crayfish and stoneflies. We host an annual silent auction each year and the money that we make from it is used to get people active and educate them about what is in th
eir backyards. It is important for people to learn how the stuff that they do will affect nature.
How does OttLite assist you when you are fly tying?
OttLites are really popular in the fly tying community and our members swear by them. They take the folding ones to the fly swap events where they will tie flies with new people and then swap with each other. The only way to get better at something is to learn from one another. It is really important to be able to see exactly what you are doing when tying flies and the true color that OttLite provides helps so much.
For more information about the Ozark Fly Fishers, please visit ozarkflyfishers.org.
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