Befus family bonds over fishing, outdoors
When the 12th annual Western Colorado Fly Fishing Exposition opens Friday night at the DoubleTree Hotel, don’t be surprised to see a lot of folks who wear double-extra-small waders.
While the expo always has been attentive to its audience of younger anglers and fly tiers, this year there is an extra push to show the role of families in the sport.
“We’ve always had children’s and women’s programs and this year we wanted to emphasize the participation of families in fly fishing,” said Pat Oglesby, expo coordinator. “Kids really are the key to the future of fly fishing and there are so many ways fly fishing appeals to youngsters.”
The expo is the much-anticipated culmination of nearly a year’s effort by volunteers from the Grand Valley Anglers Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Federation of Fly Fishers.
In addition to attracting more than 60 of the best fly tiers in the West, the event usually hosts a featured speaker who is well-entrenched in fly fishing.
This year, however, the program during the Saturday night banquet will be presented by a Montrose family with at least two generations of well-renowned fly anglers.
Possibly the best-known of the fly fishing families in western Colorado is that of Brad and Lisa Befus of Montrose.
Brad is the sales manager at Ross Reels in Montrose, at least when he isn’t on the road traveling to seminars and lectures or busy writing a book or innovating a few new fly patterns.
Or taking his family fishing.
Also a well-respected photographer, Brad authored “Basic Techniques for Successful Fly Tying” and co-authored “Carp on the Fly: A Flyfishing Guide” and “Basic Techniques for Successful Fly Tying: A Lesson by Lesson Approach.”
He’s also produced videos titled “Flies For Carp,” “Techniques for Micro Patterns” and “Basic Techniques for Successful Fly Tying.”
Mom Lisa also is a talented angler, although lately she has been spending less time fishing and more time home-schooling their children, all of whom are following closely in their parents’ steps.
Probably none is following faster than 12-year-old Tyler, a multi-talented young man with two children’s fly-fishing books and a video to his credit. He’s also a popular and well-known speaker on the national fly-fishing circuit.
Tyler’s books include “An Introduction to Fly Fishing” and “An Introduction to Fly Tying.” The video is titled “Kids’ Guide to Fly Fishing.”
The rest of the Befus family includes Ava, 9, Vivian, 6, and Olivia, 18 months. Tyler, Ava and Vivian will be tying flies during Saturday’s expo.
And don’t write off Olivia. Tyler got his start at 6 months, sitting in a backpack while Brad fished.
“Our program is an overview showing people that what’s been perceived as an adult-dominated activity is something really applicable to families,” Brad said recently. “Especially for kids, it’s a way to get them outdoors and learning about wildlife and plants and everything there is to enjoy in the outdoors.”
Brad said he and Lisa have never pressured the kids about fly fishing but rather always treated it as one more family activity.
“With four active children, we’re always going to soccer matches and swimming and gymnastic meets and everything else,” Brad said. “And it seems like everywhere we go, they usually are places that offer fishing.”
He said Lisa particularly likes the idea of fishing as quality family time, when the electronic distractions are absent and mom and dad can spend time with each child.
“We’ve always met the kids halfway,” Brad said. “We want them to experience the thrill of catching a fish and feeling it fight on the line, but when they decide they’ve had enough, we go do something else.”
“You also have to understand their attention span,” he said. “That’s why we always carry a Frisbee or something in the backpack.”
Fly fishing also ties into the home-schooling, Brad said.
“There’s the science and the history aspect of fly fishing and of course the arts, with fly patterns and tying,” he said. “Ava has really picked up on the art aspect of fly tying and she really enjoys that.”
A note about Tyler’s books. Brad said Tyler was about 7 when he first started talking about writing a fly-fishing book for kids.
“When he was 3, I’d take him to fishing shows and he’d notice they were dominated by adults, there weren’t any kids around,” Brad said. “‘Where are the kids?’ he asked me. ‘I want to change that.’”
A few years and a couple rough drafts later, Brad and Tyler approached a publisher about a kids-oriented fly fishing book. The rest is history.
“He’s long passed me,” said Brad with a laugh. “I’ve lost my own identity and now I’m known as ‘Tyler’s dad.’ I wouldn’t want it any other way.”