User:Air Force Guy

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Air Force Guy: Gary Hull

Location: Raleigh, NC

MEMBER FF@: joined in 1988 or was that 1989 (I can't remember...I have a good's just short) but there were fewer then 100 members when I joined.

Co-Host of SCW m'Clave

see for SCW m'Clave 2008 details

How I Got Into Fly Fishing was a long road for me!

As a kid growing up in Northern Wisconsin, my parents loved to fish for sunnies and an occasional northern or bass at the Gordon Flowage. They usually fished the lakeside of the dam. Of course we used worms and night crawlers we dug and plucked from the grass ourselves the night before. We almost always supplemented our table with the fish we caught. I first used cane poles, then old casting equipment relatives gave me, and finally with money I earned from my paper route when I was 10 or 11, a Zebco 606 spin cast outfit. In my mind I was into serious big time fishing then! I used this equipment for years then one day as a teen, an uncle gave me what he called a salmon rod. It was a 9-foot steel rod fitted to accomodate a fly reel. The only thing I really remember about it was that it was quite heavy. I bought a cheap fly reel for it and started carrying it stuffed down the back of my waders while fishing the river/spillway side of the dam. When I saw a fish take something off the surface I would replace the Zebco for my salmon rod already loaded with a popper and begin flailing the air. I only used poppers for sunfish and maybe an occasional bass but this outfit did introduce me to the idea of fly casting.

That was the extent of my fly-fishing experience as a young kid/teen though. I did catch some large bluegill on poppers and even a few bass, but for the most part I pretty much stayed with my Zebco using worms, minnows, and lures chasing mostly northern and an occasional bass or walleye. After all, I was into the big fish by then!

As a young adult, the beginnings of my fly fishing experience took a hiatus for several years. Most of my fishing friends back in those days preferred sitting in a rented boat anchored over a prospective hole that was almost always in the hot sun. Since proper hydration was important, a cooler of beer was always nearby. In my mid 30's I moved to Georgia to learn that lakes down south are really reservoirs mostly surrounded by private property with no place available to rent a boat. Fishing from shore was almost impossible if even accessible. As a result, I made the second strategic fishing equipment purchase in my life and bought an open face ultra-light spinning outfit with the idea that I'd start fishing for trout in the hundreds of miles of North Georgia Mountain streams. Some good old boys I served in the Georgia Air National Guards with told me about corn, cheese, and even marsh mellows for bait but I pretty much stayed with my fishing roots and stuck to worms. I continued to use the ultra-lite for about a year catching very few trout, I might add.

One cold winter day, while freezing my backside off waist deep in a north Georgia stream during a snow storm, it occurred to me that if I was going to really get into trout fishing, I should be casting flies and not "bait". That very day during my evening trip back home to Athens, I made the decision to buy my first fly rod and reel. This was late 1988 and as a new mostly lurking member of @FF, I queried the list for information as to the appropriate weight rod and line for the type/size streams I would be fishing. I ended up buying an 8 ft 5/6 weight South Bend rod from Cabella's. With the reel, backing, and line I think I paid $125 for the entire outfit. At the time, I thought this was a lot for a rod and reel and as a single parent of 2 teens; it certainly represented the top end of what I could afford.

This purchase turned out to be the best fishing related decision I've ever made. I loved that rod, mostly I think because it was the rod I used to truely fuel my desire to become a fly fisherman. Unfortunately, about 4 years ago, I broke the top 5 inches off and although I had it fixed, it no longer retained its original action and casting capabilities. I still have the rod but no longer use it. Instead, I now use it's replacement, a 4 weight, 8' 6" Cortland II, or one of the other two I've since purchased, a 3 piece GLoomis 6wt or an Orvis Pro Guide 4 piece 4 wt.

Two years ago I decided when not on the stream, I could still experience fly fishing by learning how to tie my own flies. Today I can tie an acceptable EHC, Stimulator, Chronamid nypmh, Sulpher Imitation, and Adams. I've done some worms and inch worms too but I still have a way to go in the tying arena. I pretty much still buy many of the flies I still fish but last year I did catch my first trout on one of my EHC and I've caught several on other flies I've tied.

Occasionally, I still take off for Falls Lake, about 10 minutes from my home and fly fish from shore for bluegills. I grew up catching sunnies and I guess they're still in my blood. Heck, I just love getting out to practise my casting.

How I Got Into Claving

I was a member of the FF@ family back in the mid 90's when the concept of a get together, coined conclave, and finally shorted to 'clave got started. I can not say since I do not know who deserves the credit for the naming convention, but it has pretty much stuck. Anyway, back in those days I was not a very good fly caster and worse yet, it was rare when I even caught a fish. In either case, when the idea of the NEC was being bantered about on the list, I was more then interested in attending. I was living in the DC area at the time so a drive to New York was quite feasible. My first thought after thinking I'd go however, was how embarassed I'd be showing my lack of fly casting and fishing skills to what I percieved to be a group of very good fly casters and fishermen. Needless to say, I decided it was probably best to not attend.

It wasn't until 2004 when I finally mustered the courage to attend my first clave. I decided it was time to swallow my pride, admit my inabilities, and try to learn from the experts. I figured a clave was a good beginning for the learning part. My first clave was NEG 2004. Having lived in Georgia for several years, I was familiar with North East Georgia trout waters and looked forward to revisiting them...or at least some of them.

I learned from attending that clave, that the FF@ folks are everything but critical when it comes to another's fly fishing abilities. I also learned that most are fun loving folks who really enjoy stalking the wiley trout and when not sitting around the campfire or at the picnic table tying flies, smoking good cigars, drinking good single malt, and spinning good yarns, they're also eager to help you learn. All you need do is ask and most I've had the privilege of meeting and fishing with at a clave were more then willing to share their knowlege and experience. That same year I attended Tenn X Clave, the 10th and last year for this clave. I had a wonderful time, meeting several people of whom I still communicate with in spite of the miles separating us, and a few others I still regularly fish with. After my first clave I also learned that while on the stream, I could carry my own and have generally done quite well catching fish during my clave attendance.

I've attended four claves including my first in 2004 and will continue to do so. Claves are great fun and a wonderful opportunity to share real face time with FF@ members, I otherwise and occasionally talk to via emails to the list. If you've never attended an FF@ clave, I think you should. Like me, I bet you'd enjoy yourself and I perhaps choose to attend others.