What is a fly rod? By definition it’s listed as a specialized type of fishing rod designed to cast fly line and artificial flies. In most cases fly rods are made from carbon fiber/graphite, have a cork grip, typically a wooden reel seat, and some form of resin keeping it all together. Getting more rare these days are fly rods made from more classic materials like fiberglass or bamboo. Throw on a tip top, a bunch of metal guides with some thread and you now have a fly rod. This combination of components may not seem like much, but in my family this arrangement of components acts like a glue that keeps us together.
When I was considerably younger, I started fishing for bass, pike, and panfish with spinning tackle, but gravitated toward getting a fly rod in my hand at around age 12 or 13. I don’t remember my exact age, but I do remember taking the fly rod my mom used as a decoration in our house, down to the local river to catch shiners and chubs on poorly tied mini streamers that just so happened to float. The first time I had one of those little fish charge those flies and crush it on the surface, I was hooked. After that point, most decisions in my life have revolved around a fly rod and moving water.
Those very decisions would lead me toward where I went to college, what I did after college, and what I do now. It was while I was in college that my dad probably first really noticed my growing passion for catching fish on fly rods. We would typically go on an annual fishing trip that involved spinning gear, our bass boat, and walleye that seemed to always choose not to eat our lures. One year that annual tradition took a 180 degree turn. Dad bought a fly rod with some other gear from Cabela’s and we’ve been fly fishing together ever since.
As I finished out my college years, we fished side by side on a number of small streams and lakes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I won’t name names since my dad still fishes many of those very streams, not to mention all the locals that do as well.
Once out of college I moved to Montana to become a fly fishing guide. That was way back in 2002 and I was guide #9957, and proud of it. Dad and I were then able to fish some of the rivers I had only read about, dreamed about, and drooled over back in those younger days. Those early days spent in Montana would set the eventual path in my life, in stone.
Since those days, we have fly fished in waters all over the USA and Canada. I have rowed my dad down rivers and across lakes. We’ve caught plenty of fish here on the MO over the years and have logged many many miles on Montana freestone rivers all over the state. We’ve shared steelhead runs in British Columbia, and last year I was able to get him his first carp on a fly rod as well. Each year we broaden our horizons, we try something new and someplace new. Our gear has dramatically improved from that Cabela’s gear of our youth to the Orvis gear we have now, not to mention I row a pretty nice Clackacraft drift boat out here on the MO, an Aire Super Puma on the freestones, and in the works currently a brand new carp skiff that will pole the carp lakes of Montana and elsewhere, plus pursue redfish down south and steelhead up north.
My dad has always been one of my biggest supporters. He has given me great advice over the years and I am truly lucky and honored to call him my dad. I look forward to many more years pursuing fish with a fly rod with him. I’m extremely thankful that a fly rod isn’t just a fly rod, that it is so much more, just like my dad.
Happy Father’s Day Dad! And to all the dads out there as well!
Ben Cooley-Manager of CrossCurrents Fly Shop in Craig, Montana