Wil Huett, past president of the Rocky Mountain Flycasters, a Northern Colorado chapter of Trout Unlimited, casts his fly rod during an afternoon of fishing at Riverbend Ponds Natural Area in Fort Collins recently. Joel Blocker / For BizWest

More than fish get hooked on a fly line

At age 75, after more than 50 years of fly fishing, Wil Huett hopes to learn how to tie his own flies.

His son, Matt, was so good at tying flies, he was asked to do it for professionals. But Matt married into a golfing family, and so he hung up his rod and passed along his equipment to his father.

Huett is a past president in charge of community outreach for Rocky Mountain Flycasters, a Larimer County chapter of Trout Unlimited. He also, of course, fishes as much as he can and has for decades.

So after the expensive fly-tying equipment sat in his garage awhile, Huett felt bad about that, given his experience and his position with the Flycasters. He finally decided to put that equipment to use.

“He gave me a few lessons,” Huett said and laughed. “I’m doing my best.”

Wil Huett, past president of the Rocky Mountain Flycasters, a Northern Colorado chapter of Trout Unlimited, secures a “davy knot” to his foam bass popper before an afternoon of fishing at Riverbend Ponds Natural Area in Fort Collins recently. Joel Blocker / For BizWest

Huett’s situation demonstrates how fly fishing can be a sport as recreational or as obsessive as you want to make it. You can spend thousands, but you can start the sport with a $100 rod. You can cast for trout in fast mountain streams (especially this year), or you can cast for carp at your local park lake. You can wade or fish on the banks. You can use someone else’s ties, or you can make your own, and in fact, some anglers prefer to do little but tie their own flies as intricately as an artist using a dash of watercolor. And even if you’re a longtime veteran, there’s always something to learn.

“It’s OK to jump right into fly fishing,” said Howard Horton, the angler outreach coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “It can be as complicated and as simple as you want it.”

Let’s use Monic Flylines in Boulder as an example. The owner, Bob Goodale, designs fly lines that are clear so they don’t spook fish, made for specific species and water and are environmentally friendly. He sells to retail companies such as LL Bean and Bass Pro Shops as well as on his own website. But he also said you don’t need all that if you want to start fly fishing or enjoy it around Colorado. A general fly line good for fishing trout would be enough.

“You can start out fishing for trout, and then eventually, you might say, ‘Gee, I’d like to go bone fishing,’” Goodale said. “Then you might need a bigger rod, or you might want to use some of our clear lines.”

In fact, Goodale sends people to Rocky Mountain Angler in Boulder to get started.

“They’ll set you up and give you everything you need,” Goodale said. “They have classes and what rod and reel to buy and all that. You can spend $1,000 for a rod, but you don’t need that. You can get a rod for $100. That way you can determine if it’s something you really want to do.”

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Places to go for information:

• rockymtanglers.com

rockymtnflycasters.org

• monic.com

• cpw.state.co.us/thingstodo/Pages/Fishing.aspx

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Many times beginners or casual fly anglers prefer to fish in the summer, so they may not need waders, or incorporate fly fishing into other activities.

“You can hike but take your rod with you,” Horton said. “Or maybe they will fish a bit when they go camping.”

One of the best ways to get experience in a hurry is to find some fishing buddies, and a good way to do that is to join a group. Rocky Mountain Flycasters, Huett’s group, is a good place to start. Some are in the organization just for the conservation projects as a part of Trout Unlimited, but most of them fish, Huett said. The group typically meets once a month. There are more than 850 paying members who are Colorado State University students, young professionals — one woman is 27 — and a member who is 89. There are other groups on Facebook.

“We have beginners who walk in the door and say, ‘How do I learn?’” Huett said. “You can tell them what you want to learn, and you’ll find someone who says, ‘OK, let’s go fishing next Thursday.’”

The organization has informal fishing trips where everyone, not just fish whisperers, are welcome, and members love to teach tips such as “match the hatch” (use a lure that looks like the bug hatching right now), how to cast and where to go.

After all, not even Huett knows everything, as he’s in his mid-70s and trying to learn how to tie flies. He began back when he attended college: He borrowed his friend’s fly rod when he was attending college, caught a bass and became, well, hooked. He moved to Colorado in 1971 and has fly fished ever since. He loves to keep the lands in good condition and helping the fish, and he loves being in pretty places.

“The trout live in the most beautiful places” Huett said. “I’ve had deer walk so close up to me that I could have touched them with my rod tip.

But he loves catching and releasing the fish the most. The other day, he hooked a 27-inch carp. Carp are not good eating, but in that moment, in a little pond in Fort Collins, that was hardly the point.

“He would make a turn, and the line would scrape against a rock, and I thought, many times, that he was going to break me off,” Huett said. “But no, he fought me, and I fought him, and it took me 30 minutes to land him. It was great fun.”

At age 75, after more than 50 years of fly fishing, Wil Huett hopes to learn how to tie his own flies.

His son, Matt, was so good at tying flies, he was asked to do it for professionals. But Matt married into a golfing family, and so he hung up his rod and passed along his equipment to his father.

Huett is a past president in charge of community outreach for Rocky Mountain Flycasters, a Larimer County chapter of Trout Unlimited. He also, of course, fishes as much as he can and has for decades.

So after the expensive fly-tying equipment sat in his garage awhile, Huett felt bad about that, given his experience and his position with the Flycasters. He finally decided to put that equipment to use.

“He gave me a few lessons,” Huett said and laughed. “I’m doing my best.”

Wil Huett, past president of the Rocky Mountain Flycasters, a Northern Colorado chapter of Trout Unlimited, secures a “davy knot” to his foam bass popper before an afternoon of fishing at Riverbend Ponds Natural Area in Fort Collins recently. Joel Blocker / For BizWest

Huett’s situation demonstrates how fly fishing can be a sport as recreational or as obsessive as you want to make it. You can spend thousands, but you can start the sport with a $100…