Tyler Befus has had some strong guidance and promotion in his ten years. His site is fun. He is published. He is confident in his presentation. He will hopefully maintain this apparent passion for the sport as he transitions away from his guiding hand…probably dad? This is enjoyable to witness as a parent, family member or nearby adult friend. I know this because my son, Tony was tying at NW Sportsman’s Shows and Fly Tying Expos at 9 y/o. We toyed with publishing a youth fly tying book years ago, but time did not allow for it to happen and the novelty of age passed by. He caught the bug at a young age and eventually made the passion truly his own.
Above you see Tony, just today, at 19 y/o, teaching a stillwater class at the fly shop (NWFFO-Portland) where he has been fortunate to work the last few years. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the growth and especially the process, when the young adult makes it all their own…Today, Tony said sometimes he is surprised at how much he has learned over the years. It is refreshing to see he was paying attention. Good luck to Tyler Befus and to all the other boys and girls enjoying the sport in varying degrees. We welcome you. Dad, Mom, Aunt, Uncle, Mentor….remember these formative times.
At an early age, say 7 or 8, Tony would accompany me to a Tuesday night meet for the NWFF Club in Troutdale, Oregon. This was intended as a relaxed learning experience for both of us and a side benefit not foreseen by me was the interaction with adults, mostly men. Tony was the only youth at the meetings. He wandered about and was immediately engaged by men, who (I love them) drew out conversations and challenged him to respond with more than shyness or mumbles. Tony has never been void of words, but he learned early on to not brag, BS or fabricate (traits of normal fly fishers) because his skills were intially suspect…but, in time club members came to respect Tony’s tenacious ability on a lake, sitting well below the top of the back rest of his float tube . This was a great experience for Tony and me as well because I saw him blossom and develop without me standing over him. He did it on his own and I owe a debt of gratitude to too many men and women to mention, but in particular to John and Jack Hagan, Shirley Hagan, Tim Evans, Jack Lynch, Todd and Peggy Sloan, Lee McKee…well there were many.
This club award was special to 10 year old Tony, but aggravating to some club members. Why would you give such an important award to a boy? I appreciated the recognition for Tony’s enthusiasm, but knew there were many men and women in the club who devoted many hours to club functions and missions. But, the message was clear that the club needed new blood, that the club should encourage other kids into the mix and that Tony was a special kid in his own right. For those that sacrificed or argued nay at the time, your club’s acknowledgement went a long way in Tony’s self esteem and comfort as a young man today.
Tim Evans and Lee Clark were first responsible for gathering Tony up and convincing me to have him tie at the Portland Sportman’s Show. Back then it was sit up in front of everyone, in the middle of the action, hooked up to a microphone, camera and monitors activated and hold forth for an hour. I can still recall when Tony blazed through an hour’s worth of material in thirty minutes and ad libbed his way through with a couple more unplanned for patterns, up on stage, for the remaining thirty minutes. He was wedged between Dave Hughes, Brian Chan and Denny Rickards that day and he did a wonderful job….most of us know how nervous we would be in the planning, preparation, over thinking it and the actual event. Tony continued this a few more times at the Sportsman Show, the Fly Tying Expos in Eugene and the FFF show in Seaside. He was recently invited to tie in a Boise, Id. show, but had to decline because of work and his fire fighter internship. In short, involve your child. If you don’t smother, over manage, over plan, over instruct your child will blossom before your eyes, making it slightly easier later when they start moving out in their own direction. You will have helped pave the way.