Posts Tagged ‘youth fly tying


Fly Tying: Youth Tying & Guidance

Speaking from experience, nothing will test your patience or reveal your dark side quicker than being near your children as they pursue something you have expertise in, or even things you don’t know a damn thing about. Darkness looms if you are not careful. Also, taking over becomes a possibility.

I could tell you not so becoming stories of my parental decisions, but I don’t want to jinx my already tenuous status with some of you. Suffice to say that about the time my third son, Tony, evolved into certain outdoor endeavors, my dominating ways were almost non-existant (my previous two sons were not so lucky).

Tony had an early knack with the artistic, whether drawing, painting or tying. His personality prompted Lee Clark (Clark’s Stonefly fame) to recruit Tony to fly tying expo’s and even a Sportsman’s Show (microphone, camera and raised stage at 10 years old). The possibilities of stardom loomed…in my mind…as I eventually saw, Tony was having fun and wanting to please his dad. He did without a doubt. This was ten years ago and the idea of a website or promoting him beyond his legitimate skill sets was not an option, and was not yet an option in my skill sets. But, a small book by a youth fly fisher was suggested, and a dark cloud appeared in the distance.

There were little if any books about fly fishing/fly tying for kids by kids. The Curtis Creek Manifesto (excellent beginner’s book) was available but was not written by a kid. Tony had the desire to draw instructions for the book and had some ideas, but the takeover parent syndrome appeared. I mean you do have to help, to organize, to suggest, to point…right?

Chapters were outlined. Work started. And, then I turned around and my son was off somewhere else. Long and short of it, an actually good idea, was not meant to be because I would have done much of it and done what dads often do…convince their children they want to do something…even when they don’t.

Tony was too young, at 10 years old. Fortunately, I recognized what I had come to recognize in Little League, Babe Ruth baseball, basketball and volleyball that my kids must have the fire in their belly sustained on their own. My children have flourished on their own (Rugby, Summer counselors, working at a fly shop, fire fighting, college, work) when they are perhaps pointed in the direction of an opportunity, and own it their way……or not.

Today, Tony is a heck of a fly fisher, fly tyer, and has worked at a fly shop for several years at a young age (18-20). He does it his way now. Thank goodness I didn’t bulldoze my son into the project.

Tony Muncy


Promoting Youth Into Fly Fishing (as the novelty fades…make it their own)


Tyler Befus & Al Cauci

Tyler Befus & Al Cauci in photo. ‘Tyler Befus may only be 10 years old but has already been fly fishing and tying his own flies for more than seven years. His fly fishing journey began when he was old enough to go along in a child backpack. He started fly casting and fly tying before the age of three and landed his first fly caught trout on his own shortly before his third birthday. He is the youngest member of the Ross Reels, Rio Products, Inc., Oakley, Simms Fishing Products and Whiting Farms prostaff teams and is a Signature Fly designer for Umpqua Feather Merchants. Tyler frequently presents kids fly fishing programs at numerous fly fishing and outdoor sport shows around the country….’

 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.

Tony Muncy Teaching in the NWFFO Loft (3/7/09)

Tony Muncy Teaching in the NWFFO Loft (3/7/09)

 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.

Tony Muncy, Dad @ Crooked River, 1981

Tony Muncy & SwittersB (Dad) on Crooked R. 1991

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.


Brian Chan, Tony Muncy, Dave Hughes

Brian Chan, Tony Muncy, Dave Hughes

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August 2020

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