Perhaps the best way to sum up the annual Fly Fish Texas event at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens is this: In one day the complete beginner can learn to tie a fly, cast that fly, and catch a fish with it.

Fly Fish Texas—to be held March 12—focuses on helping people master the set of skills required for fly-fishing. Instructors hold classes throughout the day on everything from fly-casting to fly-tying to knot tying. This is a hands-on event, and visitors are expected to participate.

Moreover, visitors can expect to get hooked. On fly-fishing.

And they will discover that it is a myth that fly-fishing is difficult to learn.

Fly-fishing experts volunteer their time and equipment so they can share their knowledge and love of fly-fishing. The event is led by Walter and Linda McClendon of Pineywoods Fly Fishers in Lufkin; they are assisted by members of fly-fishing clubs from all over the state.

True beginners can join one of the classes for which all supplies and equipment are provided. The Dallas Fly Fishers will offer morning and afternoon classes on choosing fly-fishing equipment, performing the basic four-part cast, identifying aquatic insects (what fish eat), freshwater ecology, useful fishing knots, safety, ethics and fly-tying. The classes are free, but pre-registration is required, because class size is limited. Those who complete the class will receive basic fly-fisher certification. To reserve a spot, call Craig Brooks at 903-670-2222.

In addition to the beginner’s classes, more advanced instruction will be offered on particular casting problems, how to set up tackle, fly selection and more. Seminars will give information on subjects ranging from how to fish specific bodies of water to tips and techniques for fishing for different species. Skilled fly-tiers will make flies all day long and teach anyone who wants to learn how to do it. Pre-registration is not required for these classes and seminars.

Food vendors will be present on-site to make it possible for visitors to spend all day immersed in fly-fishing. Also present will be vendors selling gear from fly rods to kayaks for the enthusiast who wants to get started right away. You can try out all kinds of equipment and even paddle the latest model kayak around one of TFFC’s ponds.

One of the things that makes Fly Fish Texas so popular with beginners and experts alike is that the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center has several ponds and streams stocked with rainbow trout, largemouth bass, sunfish and channel catfish, and you can tie a fly, walk 50 steps and catch a fish with it.

The tourism campaign that labels Texas “A Whole Other Country” falls short when it comes to fly-fishing—Texas is like a whole bunch of other countries. Once you’ve mastered the basics of fly-fishing, a world of new experiences awaits. “One of the most fulfilling things you can do is catch a fish on a fly you have tied,” says casting instructor Steve Hollensed. “Tying a fly produces a fish. Casting produces a fish. Fly-fishing removes a lot of the high-tech aids in catching fish. There is more of a direct connection between the fish and the angler.”

When it comes to the outdoors, connection is a powerful word. The connection Hollensed speaks of is not tethered by the fly line but is instead the invisible bond formed when human and animal lives intersect, even if only long enough for a living, breathing water-dweller to be brought to hand, admired and returned to the depths. It is that connection to wild things and wild places we seek when we fish, rather than the fish itself.
Human connection to the outdoors involves conscious conservation as well as conscientious consumption, principles unique to our species. In that sense, fly-fishing may be one of the purest expressions of what it means to be human.

The 2011 Fly Fish Texas event takes place at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center March 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. All activities are included with paid admission. For more information and directions and a complete schedule of activities, visit

To view short videos about the event, visit