Elk Hair Caddis – Fly Fishing in Maine
Hey, adventurers – it’s Jess here, and I learned about a pretty awesome winter activity recently, and I could not wait to share. We know a lot of you are wondering – can those crazy Mainers come up with even more outrageous winter activities? OF COURSE, WE CAN. The Elk Hair Caddis. Ever heard of it?? Well – you’re about to! Haha. (Hint – Fly Fishing)
Maine’s summer is a short “three-month” timespan – June, July, and August – and one thing to know about us Mainers, while we love our winters we usually are spending them getting ready for summer (and we might spend the summer getting ready for winter…we really like to be prepared for anything). So before I tell you more of this story, I’d like for you to first take a moment and imagine what you think an Elk Hair Caddis might be. It is definitely not what you think it is! When I first heard the term my brain immediately went into overdrive – does an Elk even have hair? I guess I never really thought hard about if an Elk had hair or fur or even feathers. Also – caddis = new word for my vocabulary. I might have actually said out loud “What am I getting myself into?!”
A traditional sport, with roots going back to 15th century, fly-fishing has always intrigued me. It looks calming and now that I have a client (I work at a Maine-based PR and marketing agency) that deals primarily with fly-fishing products I figured it is time to learn! So where would a Mainer start? Beans, of course (L. L. Bean to non-Mainers). Their Outdoor Discovery School was offering the Elk Hair Caddis (fly tying, in case you haven’t figured it out by now…) on a Wednesday evening. I was so excited, way more excited than anyone that I’m friends with – I know this because I put it out on Facebook and got four likes. My mother, my sister, my nana and a cousin. Way to step up people!
I bribed my sister with dinner at Tuscan Brick Oven Bistro in Freeport to come with me. I wish could live in this restaurant. The bar is huge, they have amazing signature cocktails, and the atmosphere is one of total comfort. There are huge couches in the lobby area, wing-backed armchairs on wheels at some of the tables and big overstuffed benches
with pillows scattered about. The whole place is a gigantic room, but it doesn’t feel like that. The kitchen is open and there’s a gorgeous private event space.
We split our favorites, a Tuscan Chop Salad and Funghi Pizza and headed off to Beans for our class. Not fully reading the email, probably because of my excitement level, we waited in the Outdoor Discovery School reception area in the main flagship store for a while until we realized that we should probably be in the hunting and fishing store.
Approaching the fly-fishing department, we saw that we were in the right place. The class was sold out and to my surprise, there was about an equal proportion of fly fishermen to fly fisherwomen – way to go anglers!
As we waited for everyone to get settled, I, of course, ever curious, started to play with all the equipment in front of me. It was pretty much silent and I dropped my scissors on the table. It was an awkward moment, so I made my trademark uncomfortable laughter noise, which prompted my sister Kasey to launch into the usual…”I knew you’d do something weird. Stop moving.”
Class started and the instructor worked his way through building the fly at a slow enough pace that I was able to absorb what he was doing but didn’t lose focus (I do that often – creative brain!). Once he was done, it was our turn. The level of instruction was amazing. We never felt abandoned or at a loss. They made the entire process so easy!
Really, the whole “tying the fly” process was extremely easy. You clamp the fishing hook into the vice and start looping the thread around and around and around. Over and over again, all the while adding in pieces of your materials. At the end, I believe we created a whip knot and if done wrong the entire fly would come apart. Thankfully, the instructor did this part for both my sister and me! I was not about to start that whole process over again. The final product was a great specimen of an Elk Hair Caddis.
I sent the image of it to my client and was told that it looked “extra buggy,” I’ll take that as a compliment!
I’ve already signed up for the next one! Fingers crossed that the weather cooperates. Granted, the class is indoors so I’m sure it will be fine. SUMMER – WE ARE READY!