Winter warmup

Tired of the cold? It's a good time to get ready for summer

At the “Iron Fly” fly tying contest conducted last week at Western Anglers, fly tyers race the clock to create a fly from a unexpected sack of materials while spectators cheer them on. In the foreground left is James Patton and right is Bill Fenstermaker, hoping the judges will be pleased with their new creation of hook and feather.

It’s summer in the southern hemisphere and all of the fishermen, fishing guides and outdoor retail stores are doing a big business, I suppose. Sort of like our local ski areas here in the winter.

So, speaking of here, what are the local fishermen, guides and shops doing now that the fishing opportunities are diminished?

Notice I said less, not none. There are some winter fishing destinations such as the lower Gunnison or the Frying Pan or the hard water for those of that mind, myself included. But that’s another adventure.

The story for Saturdays in winter is an indoor warmup taking place at Western Anglers, downtown Grand Junction.

Not that winter is the only time to tie flies, but it sure is a good time. And when you can gather around a table with a local expert, it’s almost as good as fishing itself.

I said almost.

Yes, fly tying can be a hobby unto itself of which I have been accused, but for me it remains an important part of the total Colorado fishing experience. In other words, I tie to fish. And if I want to get better as a fisherman, then it is a wise use of time to spend some time in the local classroom.

The local classroom for fly tying is every Saturday into March from 10 a.m. to noon at Western Anglers. Hosting a different fly tyer each week, shop owner Ned Mayers has put together a panel of experts to demonstrate their favorite local patterns.

Asked what he felt was the reason for the Saturday gathering, Mayers said he wanted to “give fishermen a chance to see innovative tyers who live and work and fish in this area and know local waters.”

A few weeks ago the first tyer was James Flatten from Hotchkiss. I watched as James methodically mixed a hodgepodge of thread and tying materials around a fishing hook, creating five different patterns. With each one, he wove a story of how to rig up the flies to a leader and ways to fish each one for their specific fishing situation.

The crowd favorite was the “Tie Hooker,” an articulated streamer.

Week 2 followed with Phil Trimm from Whiting Farms at the vise, tying carp flies.

In a break from the Saturday routine, two Fridays ago Western Anglers hosted the “Iron Fly,” a no-rules fly-tying contest somewhat based on the “Iron Chef” reality television show about cooking.

The event was sponsored by Upslope Brewing, Costa Sunglasses and Grand Valley Anglers of Trout Unlimited, and 20 or so tyers gathered at the shop amid a crowd of spectators to tie a fly that is totally made up on the spot.

Each tyer was given a bag of materials, the same for everyone, and in a timed round of 15 minutes, the competitors could tie whatever they wanted out of the materials at hand. And these materials were not the standard tying materials every tyer has at home. It was basically oddball craft-shop material that each tyer had to be imaginative about and create a fly from nothing.

Tyers were judged and advanced to a second, then a third round. The winner was Dan, whose top prize was presented by Jeff McKenna of Western Anglers and consisted of a cardboard box, partially filled with a few nondescript fishing items with a retail value well over $20, maybe even $30! Congrats, Dan, on the big haul.

Another Iron Fly chaotic night will take place March 12.

“We want to cover every different type of fly and material from hair to foam during the Saturday demos,” Mayers said.

Upcoming dates and fly-tying instructors are:


■ Feb. 6, Gale Doudy.

■ Feb. 13, Tom Mullen.

■ Feb. 20, Don Mear.

■ Feb. 27, Pete Ashman.

■ March 5, Joel Evans.

■ March 12, the Iron Fly contest to conclude the fly-tying events.


Kick the winter blues. Get away from the TV. Join in the tying sessions.


For more information, call Western Anglers at
970-244-8658 or go online to


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