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A Morning at the Fly Shop

October 7, 2009

Since  that chronic bucket-mouth, T.M. Honker, shamed me by publicizing that for the past 35 years I have broken each of my annual resolutions to start fly fishing again, I am left with no option but to get it done in 2010.  Taking stock of the situation this morning, I was gratified to learn that I could  find my fly rod and reel, and that they still worked. 

J.D. Thelen, my mentor of old, helped me purchase that rod and reel at the old Herter’s store in Mitchell.  We were enroute to the Black Hills to fish the beaver dams above the Black Fox Campground.  Thelen was patient and forgiving, managing to get me fairly proficient at lashing the waters into froth.   Between the two of us we managed to catch a few small trout which made a delicious breakfast.  But I digress.

In order to keep my 2010 resolution I have decided to purchase a bit of new gear each month so I’ll be ready to go come spring.  To that end, I hied myself down to Hans Stephenson’s fly shop, Dakota Angler & Outfitter, in downtown Rapid City.  The shop is a fly fisher’s delight.  Rods, reels, fly tying goodies, and gear — none of which I had more than a nodding familiarity with.  So, I explained the situation and my plan to Hans, who nodded wisely.

I was excited to see that Hans concurred in my first choice for new gear, a good fly box.  I settled on Scientific Anglers’ MAX 432; it’s generous in size, but still pocket sized.  However, I doubt that I’ll ever be able to get 432 flies stowed in it, as advertised.  My fingers aren’t that nimble anymore.

We next turned to the matter of flies.  I wanted something suitable for trout in the spring on Black Hills waters.  I was in over my head here, without a clue.  Hans took over and showed me a basic selection.  Suffice to say, none of them were tied on No.4 hooks in the classic patterns I’d read about, the Royal Coachman, the Parson’s Dun, or the Gray Fox.  Hans steered me well and I came away with pairs of flies tied in each of the following patterns: Red Fox Squirrel Nymph, Black Copper John, Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail, Blue Winged Olive, and Griffith’s Gnat.  All tied on hooks so tiny that I despair ever being able to thread them.

So, the accumulation begins.  I had fun and Hans is a good host.  The plan is to go in each payday and listen to what Hans has to tell me.  I just  have to suppress my natural urge to purchase large, gaudy fishing lures.

— Jim Margadant

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2009 5:26 pm

    It’s been a long time since I’ve heard from T.M. I’m glad to hear he’s still doing well.

  2. October 7, 2009 7:38 pm

    Well, alright now.

    But I’m going to need a pic or two in the future.

    Especially of “Red Fox Squirrel Nymph, Black Copper John, Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail, Blue Winged Olive, and Griffith’s Gnat”

    Come on.

    • October 8, 2009 12:53 am

      Berg was pretty cavalier about the demands of this blog stuff. I hadn’t considered the “pic” business before you dropped the bomb. I suppose I can get some coaching on how to get photos inserted; shouldn’t be unduly hard. But I’ll have to figure out how to get the little buggers up and posed for the photos. I’m not sufficiently vested in all this to own a fly tying vise.

      — JM

  3. October 7, 2009 7:53 pm

    After I gave this fiasco a shameless plug I re-read what I was recommending. I believe it was about 35 years ago that you and your then wife took us camping at Black Fox. As I recall, the bait du jour for some of the local trout fisherman then was Green Giant canned corn. Match that hatch.

    • October 8, 2009 12:40 am

      Your shameless plug is greatly appreciated. Alas, the Green Giant lure story is true, there are too many witnesses, including the Old Mentor who taught it to me, to attempt to deny it. But I’m trying to repent and reform my errant ways.

      Sparse Gray Hackle still resides in his frame, secure on my office wall, and as good and vigorous as the day you finished painting him.

      — JM

  4. October 7, 2009 8:00 pm

    Sorry, one more:

    What?… no Sparse Gray Hackle?

  5. a23 permalink
    October 7, 2009 8:40 pm

    Hi, I’m a friend of Berg’s and he sent me here.

    This is seriously good stuff, and I’d like to read more of it.

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