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April 3, 2018 Comments Off on Students create functional fishing art in Bella Vista Latest

Students create functional fishing art in Bella Vista

There’s an art to crafting a fly that looks like lunch to a hungry fish.

Some of the flies students tie in classes offered by the Bella Vista Fly Tyers look so lifelike fish might leap out of Little Sugar Creek to eat them.

About the Fly Tyers

Bella Vista Fly Tyers formed in 1976 and now has 175 members.

In addition to fly tying, the club offers fishing trips, speakers and members perform numerous community and outdoor conservation projects. Most members fish, but not all.

Meetings are held each Thursday morning at Riordan Hall. Dues are $10 per year.


The stream curves in close to Riordan Hall, where beginner and advanced fly-tying classes are held. The students’ creations might tempt smallmouth bass in Little Sugar, or trout in the Ozarks’ cold-water streams.

Some may go into a picture frame, said Alan Peterson, one of the Bella Vista fly tyers.

“A lot of people in these classes don’t fish. They think of it as more of an art project,” he said.

Fly-tying classes take place each Monday, with about 30 students taking seats at lines of tables. They come toting tackle boxes or satchels that carry fish hooks, thread, fur, feathers and all the essentials to create a fishing fly.

The classes are free to members of the Fly Tyers and run from September through March. But fly tying goes on all year at their meetings held each Thursday morning. Over those several weeks, students tie enough flies to fill a fishing vest. They craft a different fly during each class, said instructor Gary Rowland.

“We tie the easy flies first, then they get progressively more difficult. We tie a little bit of everything,” Rowland said.

Beginner and advanced classes are offered.

“Some like to go through the beginner classes a couple of times before going on to advanced,” Rowland said.

One particular Monday, students tied a fly called “Blair’s Organza,” made from strands of organza, which is a delicate fabric of silk or yarn.

It’s named after John Blair, who’s a former member, Rowland said.

“He’s a guy who liked to go through Hobby Lobby finding stuff to tie flies with.”

Students concentrated on the tiny hooks clasped in fly-tying vises to hold them steady. Nimble fingers wound thread around strands of bright organza. In a whip-stitch, fishing flies were born.

Tyers bring their own vises and other tools to class. About $30 buys a decent fly-tying kit, Rowland said.

“People get interested in it, then they upgrade their equipment.”

Students have access to shelf after shelf and drawers full of fly-tying supplies organized in cabinets at their meeting room in Riordan Hall. Every color of feather and fur under the sun is available, along with hooks and thread.

“It’s like having your own private fly shop,” said member Gary Henderson.

Most of the Bella Vista fly tyers are retired men and women. Tristan Avila is 15 and the youngest student in the session that just ended. He’s a home-school student who took the course as part of his studies at the suggestion of his grandpa, Joe Avila, a Fly Tyer member.

“I loved it,” Tristan Avila said. He plans to give away some of the flies he tied. “I’m never going to have to buy another present,” he said.

Some who tie are serious anglers. Others take the class mostly as a social outing, Rowland said.

“You don’t get into it to save money,” he added. “It’s a special thing to catch a fish on something you’ve tied yourself.

Sports on 04/03/2018