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    Flyers and Tyers Club, from left is Luke Anderson, instructor Greg Charles, president Davis Anderson, Jayson Weitz and Trinity Weitz showing off their prizes from recent contest. Weitz won first place for mastering her chosen fly for the project. Samantha Clarke • Clay County Progress

Fly tying artists born

After-school club teaches more than fishing techniques
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Hayesville schools have an exciting new club offered to aspiring young fishermen. Greg Charles, who has worked with the school system for more than 16 years, came up with his idea to start a fly fishing after-school club last year. Charles started the organization at Murphy schools, where they still meet weekly. The club has been such a success, he decided that he wanted to also create this opportunity for the students of Clay County . His program started out with eight students from fifth through eighth grades but he “hopes to expand this soon to include high school students at both locations,” Charles said. 

Hayesville’s tying program meets from 3-5:30 p.m. on Thursdays of each week. It is open on a year-round basis and is located in the Central Office of Clay County Schools across from the football field. 

The club inspires student leadership and is intended to be primarily student led. The group chose their own name and call themselves “Flyers and Tyers.” Last year the club got to go on a fly fishing adventure where they were individually mentored under the professional guidance of a U.S. Fly Fishing Team member. They plan to take more field trips for hands-on learning in the near future.

The class structure starts out simple with students learning the basics of fly tying and fishing principles, such as learning the different types of hooks, what they are used for and how threading works. Each student begins with a fly tackle box where they can store the flies they create during class in which they get to keep. The class is increasingly challenging, as students advance they will learn and make the four different types of flies which are imitation, attraction, search and impression pattern flies. The students practice casting on the football field under guidance of a mentor who teaches them the mechanics through kinesthetic learning. The class also teaches entomology to lay the groundwork for understanding the science behind the insects that make up the diet of fish.

Charles has held several contests for the program to encourage growth and positive sportsmanship among the class by letting students work together in teams and actively participate in exchanging knowledge on what they learned through teaching each other. He also said he enjoys designing his own flies to inspire the students to create. “I’m not just teaching them a fly pattern, I’m teaching them to think for themselves, that’s my goal,” said Charles.

Charles said he thought of the program as he was working with the student counseling center several years prior to help with struggling students who were having difficulties socially or academically. 

One day he brought in his fly tying set because he thought it would be a good icebreaker for kids who might otherwise find it challenging to engage. The class now has more than five racks filled with large boxes of materials and gear including artificial and natural pieces with many that he paid out of pocket to get the program started. Students have made everything from crawfish to dragonflies. 

One of the best parts of the program is that it is offered to students at no cost. The program is sponsored through 4-H funding and those interested in volunteering will apply through the 4-H application process. The registration is overseen by Julie Lyvers who is the N.C. Cooperative Extension agent for youth development and is the primary contact for getting signed up for the sessions. Parents need not attend the classes, but are welcome to join in if they wish.

Charles says they are in dire need of eager volunteers and could benefit greatly from someone who is experienced in fly fishing or tying flies, but anyone with interest is encouraged to apply. The goal is to have volunteers on a rotating basis. This allows flexibility and would not require a huge time commitment and allow more of a one-to-one style of teaching for individual students. To sign up as a volunteer or student, call Lyvers at (828) 389-6305 or e-mail: julie_lyvers@ncsu.edu.

“My hope isn’t that I’m just teaching them fly tying, but hope to teach them patience, problem solving skills and mentorship,” said Charles.

By Samantha Clarke Staff writer

Clay County Progress

Mailing Address: PO Box 483, Hayesville, NC 28904
Physical Address: 43 Main Street, Hayesville, NC 28904
Phone: 828-389-8431
Fax: 828-389-9997