My evolution as a fly fisherman is similar to many others. I started out catching trout with a can of corn, mepps spinner, or the old faithful rooster tail. I purchased a float tube and started floating down the Toccoa river which has become my favorite local stream. As I would pass fly fishermen, at first I stereotyped them as being snobby, stuck up, and having more money than they knew what to do with. One day on my float I had stopped near a fly fisherman and he struck up a conversation with me. To my shock, he was actually extremely nice and friendly. I asked many questions as far as equipment, flies, casting, etc and he was very generous in sharing his knowledge. That day changed my life. I made up my mind that I wanted to get into fly fishing so I went straight down to the local Academy sports. $100 later I had me a complete set…….fly rod, fly reel, fly line, backing, leader and even a few flies included. After hitting the river and catching my first trout on a flyrod, I was hooked. The next step for me was trying to tie my own flies. I decided it would be amazing to catch a trout on something I created with my own hands. I started with a $60 fly tying kit that I got from Bass Pro Shops. I remember the first fly I attempted was a flying ant. I thought it looked perfect at the time. 😊 I then joined a trout club and decided to post in the forum mentioning that I was learning fly tying and to see if anyone had any tips. I got several replies that I should look up this well known tyer, Chuck Morris, who lived just down the road from me. He had been tying flies 46 years at the time. I messaged him and he told me to feel free to come by his house anytime. I was there that same night. Chuck took me under his wing and taught me the fundamentals of tying and then got more and more advanced as we went along. Chuck had been taught to tie flies by the one and only George Harvey. He was a student in George’s first fly fishing class at Penn State. Learning the correct proportions and fundamentals from the beginning has served me well over the years. Chuck gave me countless bags of materials when I would go see him. He would give me a pattern to go home and practice and then the following week, I would bring in several flies I tied and he would critique them. I tried over and over again to pay Chuck for his time and materials and he would never take a dime from me. He always said, “Fly tying is an artform. Just pay it forward and that is all the payment I want from you.” That is what I have always tried to do from tying at Atlanta Fly Fishing Show, Spring flings, Fall Flings, Trout Unlimited meetings, etc. I finally realized why Chuck had made that request of me when I was tying at an annual Spring Fling and a young boy came up to me with his dad. His dad said that his son wanted to come over and thank me. I was taken off guard a bit and asked “Thank me for what?”. Apparently a few years earlier I was a guest tyer at an outdoor expo in Atlanta area and the little boy came over to me and was very interested in the art of fly tying. His dad said that I took the time to actually help him tie his first fly and on the way home he begged his dad to get him a fly tying kit which he did. He said fly fishing and fly tying has become their favorite hobby to do together and it all started with the “First fly”. That let me know exactly what Chuck meant by “Paying it Forward”. Later, I lucked into a fly tying lot full of materials, hooks, beads, etc and part of the lot was a Renzetti traveler vise. I was, and still am tying on a Norvise so I just showed up at Chuck’s door one day and when he opened the door, I handed him the Renzetti as a thank you and he is still tying on it today, 13 years later. I have learned since then that the fly tying/fly fishing community is full of some of the best people I have ever had the fortune of meeting. Most of them would give you the shirt off their back and are always paying it forward. With that being said, thank you Chuck for everything. Sharing your time and knowledge has been a true blessing to me and developed in me a passion that I hold dear to this day. Till next time...