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For the Good of the Next Generation

Now I’m going to be the first one to admit that my parents did a darn good job raising myself and my brother Tim. Quarrels were kept to a minimum, fists were caught before they could land and Andy with an Alberta Bull Troutfamily time drew us all together, especially time spent out in the woods camping and fishing. My father came from a family who spent many days chasing grayling and wild trout in the foothills and mom came from more of a bobber fishing for perch kind of family. Maybe that explains why I have such a strong connection with those light biting, spiky little buggers and also with the flowing waters out west of here. Mom and dad did well raising us and teaching us different aspects of life, however like most other people, I kept note of some elements of their teachings and in fact took special note of things I would do differently: one being my introduction to fly fishing.

You could say I came from the school of hard knocks when it came to learning how to fly fish. Dad and mom both had never done it, so it was up to me to learn the ropes. We didn’t have internet at our house at the time so finding out how to get started was tough for an 11 year old kid. Thankfully Nick Sliwkanich, our good friend had been fly fishing for a year already so he would bring over Sport Fishing on the Fly (SFOTF) episodes he recorded on VHS. This show helped the learning curve out a lot, but the question still remained on where to start. My solution was a beautiful green 3 piece Pflueger fly rod beginner’s kit. It looked awesome. A rod, reel, line, leader and flies for well under $100 could not be beat! The flies looked great at the time, “Hey there’s a wooly bugger, just like they used on SFOTF!” Now that I look back, those flies were likely tied by the same people working at the Nike factory. I had my combo purchased with the money I had saved from birthday and Christmas cards and now there was only one thing left to do: take this boy out the mountains to catch some rising trout!

We were on our family holiday we’d take every July and August. Our uncle Paul always met up with us in his holiday trailer too. Since he had fly fished back in his prime and gained somewhat of a legendary fishing status amongst the Tchir family, I saw meeting up with him as a huge advantage for me. Questionable techniques like blow torching my leader to my fly line and proclaiming that a #7 Royal Coachman was the best fly, made me come to the realization now that he hadn’t cast a fly since the early 1980’s. At the time however, I viewed these practices as secret techniques that may give me an edge over other fishermen. This is the first time I have gone public with the blow torch leader to fly line connection technique. Just a warning: it makes a good floating line into a sink tip.

Eggs n' BaconThe next morning we got up early and it was going to be my first fly fishing trip with my uncle. We walked down to the river after having a man’s breakfast: likely half a pound of bacon each. He said the casting takes it out of you after a while so I’d need the energy. We approached a nice looking holding spot for trout. I knew how to read water pretty good from the last couple years I had spin-fished the same river, so this spot had trout written all over it. The water was fairly high at the time, but clear with lots of visibility. There was a nice seam along the bank we were standing by, much like the seams that Don and Grant had fished on SFOTF with dry flies to rising trout the size of my arm. I’m going set the record straight, I have never had a good attention span so the only knowledge I had retained from the book I was reading on fly fishing was that dry flies float and wet flies sink. I tied on a fly from my kit that looked like a bug that would float, now that I think back, it was definitely a wet fly. I tossed a terrible roll cast/baseball throw up into the seam where the trout had been rising and my fly sunk below the surface.

Andy and Trev in '04“Strange,” I thought to myself. Uncle Paul showed me a technique on how to float your fly proclaiming that on TV they use chemicals and sprays to get their flies to float. He was, however going to show me the “all-natural”, Mother Nature’s way to keep it floating. He dug his finger into his ear and rubbed some ear wax on my fly. This floated it for about half a drift and then it sank again. We kept repeating this procedure until we ran out of wax. Giving up, we headed back to camp.

I thought about that rising trout all day long back at camp and during the hike we went on. Dad told me that he could go down to the river with me later. I tied on a different fly, and it too was sinking. Being exclusively a spin-fisherman at the time, my dad said it was a no-brainer on how we would get my fly to float. He reached into his backpack, put something on my fly and told me to keep casting. That whole night I drifted a floating garlic marshmallow through that seam. Guess it wasn’t quite matching the hatch.

PumpkinseedIt took me over a year of fly fishing before I caught my first fish on the fly. It was a pumpkinseed that came out of Christina Lake, BC on a small brown wet fly. With my Browning 8/9 weight rod, I was ready for any situation that would come my way that summer (including some 5 inch trout I slapped silly setting the hook with that thing).

Now that I think back about all of these memories of learning how to fly fish, I have a good chuckle with friends and family. Although I will likely start my kids off with a slightly better rod to make casting easier and make them clean their ears before they go fishing, I wouldn’t trade the memories and laughs I have from learning the sport of fly fishing the “Tchir way” for anything in the world.

Andy Tchir, WesternSportfishing.ca

Written by: Andy Tchir