Try Fly

Bill McChesney
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Minnesota is called “The Land of 10,000 Lakes.” Seems like a third of that total are close to the Twin Cities. Since we are surrounded by water, it makes perfect sense to find a way to play there. The Minneapolis Chain of Lakes is a favorite for canoe and stand-up paddleboard enthusiasts. A short drive from downtown, the Rum River Water Trail is a peaceful way to float away a lazy summer Saturday.

Kayaking the Rum River. Photo by Matt
Kayaking the Rum River. Photo by Matt

This spring, there’s going to be one more way to enjoy being on the water. In April Patagonia will introduce a package of tools designed to attract new participants to fly-fishing. Called the Simple Fly Fishing Kit , the kit includes a tenkara fly rod, line & leader, a box of flies and Yvon Chouinard's latest book, Simple Fly Fishing .

Simple Fly Fishing
Simple Fly Fishing

The concept for the kit grew out of the work Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder, was doing for a book about Tenkara. Tenkara is a centuries-old Japanese fly-fishing technique, which has been overlooked in modern day fly-fishing. Chouinard became interested in the technique after receiving a tenkara fly rod from a friend 25 years ago.

“Chouinard is confident that this program is the most appropriate gateway of attracting people to the sport,” says Bart Bonime, director of fishing, at Patagonia. “It’s simple, it’s highly effective and the cost of entry is far less than traditional fly fishing techniques.”

While most people think of fly-fishing as something found in Rocky Mountain streams, the lakes and streams around the Twin Cities are perfect venues to try fly-fishing. “The Twin Cities are an excellent place for fly fishing. There are numerous lakes for people to venture out on for panfish, bass, pike and muskies all which make for great fun on a fly rod,” says Andrew Fiskness, club president, St. Paul Fly Tiers. The local fly shops are The Fly Angler in Blaine, Bob Mitchell's Fly Shop in Lake Elmo and Mend Provisions in Minneapolis. The Twin Cities is also close proximity to great trout fishing in southeastern Minnesota, western Wisconsin and the Lake Superior region.

Spring Lake Park Reserve
Spring Lake Park Reserve

”Most fishermen and women typically view fly fishing as something done on a river for trout and have never done it because they fish lakes. Fishing is also something that is generally learned for an older generation and handed down. If the older generation doesn't fly fish it is less likely the younger one will,” says Fiskness.

Lew Beccone is a founding member of the [Minnesota Fly Fishers](mnflyfishers.weebly.com:%25E2%2580%258E). The organization offers a weekend long class to introduce people to the basics of fly-fishing. Beccone notes that once people get comfortable with the initial concepts and understanding the equipment they follow with an oft-repeated question. “Where do I fish? I tell them to get a map of the Twin Cities and draw a circle 50 miles around the city. Pick a lake and just go fishing. There are opportunities everywhere. Start with panfish. They can be found in shallow water and they are cooperative. There’s all kind of places to go to try fly-fishing.”

Wild River State Park
Wild River State Park

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has launched a program “ Fishing in the Neighborhood (FiN) that’s designed to increase interest in fishing within the seven-county metro region. By encouraging local residents to use local lakes in new ways, the DNR hopes that people will play closer attention to environment stewardship and actively take care of our local natural habitats and waterways.

“Chouinard is confident that if you can get young people excited about the sport they will really cherish the resources that provide the sport. They will get passionate about the environment and work to protect those resources,” says Bonime.

Tenkara Kit
Tenkara Kit

Patagonia will launch the “Simple Fly Fishing Kit” at the St.Paul store on April 4 th . The store is hosting a “Fly Fishing Made Easy” casting clinic at 6pm that day.

Simple Fly Fishing Kit

Tenkara fly rod, available in 8'6", 10'6" or 11'6" lengths
Simple Fly Fishing book, by Yvon Chouinard, Craig Mathews & Mauro Mazzo
Simple Fly Fishing quick set-up guide
Box of 12 Chouinard-recommended flies (12 count)
Line & Leader
Retail price for the entire kit is $259-$279, depending on rod choice.

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