Fly fishing: An art form for local club

A fuzzy replica of a winged insect, secured to a barbless hook, was a conversation piece – a hand-tied fishing fly passed around at the monthly meeting of the Nashua Fly Casting Association, founded in 1955.

The group, which meets on the second Tuesday of the month at the Nashua Country Club, shares an enjoyment of fly fishing and fly tying. The monthly dinner meeting entailed fish talk, fine fare and a special guest speaker from Maine.

It was David A. Van Wie, author, blogger, photographer and fly-fisherman, who shared some of the highlights of his recent Storied Waters Tour. His was a journey of 5,700 miles in 43 days through 11 states, Maine to Wisconsin. Some 1,200 of his photos document slices of heralded fishing waters in New England, along with others in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Van Wie later said that that he was delighted to meet some fellow fly fishing aficionados. He gave kudos to the club’s long history and its dedication to fly fishing.

His goal in making the trek was to explore some of the rivers, lakes and ponds made famous in literature and “to celebrate” those that have etched vivid impressions via ink, paint and camera into the consciousness of true fish folk.

“It’s always a pleasure seeing the audience smile in recognition of our iconic outdoor writers like Robert Traver, Corey Ford and Louise Dickinson Rich,” said Van Wie. “I try to bring these famous locations to life for people who haven’t had the opportunity to fish the spring creeks of Pennsylvania, the Driftless Area of Wisconsin, the sandy rivers of Michigan, or the mighty Penobscot of Maine.”

The members of the Nashua Fly Casting Association proved a rapt audience. They contend that fly fishing is an art form. They value good sport-fishing ethics and promote stewardship of the land’s natural resources.

An additional satisfaction, they noted, is enjoyed when a fish is caught on a hand-tied fly – a colorful clone of a moth, beetle, larvae or other appetizer handcrafted of beads, feathers, fur, or other materials. The fake delectable is often irresistible to a hungry fish.

Ray Philippon, president of the NFCA and a Nashua resident, said the club is comprised of local men and women and others from many parts of New England. All have learned their art. Some are elite fly-meisters.

“Although some consider fly fishing an art form, it is very easy to learn,” said Philippon. “One can learn to cast and catch fish in several hours.”

Philippon added that a newcomer has the option to practice “as hard as you want” toward the goal of learning to make a perfect cast.

Among those in attendance at the meeting were Kare Karlsen, of Nashua; Harry Mink, of Acton, Mass.; Kelly Merryfield, of Mont Vernon; Robert Broadhurst, of Salem; Mark M. Thornton, of Nashua and many more.

The NFCA members take pride in promoting fly fishing to all age groups. An annual Kids Fishing Derby offers prizes of new Zebco fishing equipment donated by the manufacturer. A private pond is available for catch-and-release get-togethers.

“We welcome anyone who has an interest in fly fishing,” Philippon said. “That includes beginners who have never fly fished, to seasoned anglers who can add to the club experience,”

Talk of spring fishing, catch-and-release style, peppered the meeting. The club’s website offers photos of biggies caught in Montana, Alaska and Maine, along with Colorado and other fly-fishing utopias.

Philippon offered encouragement to anyone with the inclination to learn fly fishing. He recommended visiting a dinner meetings at the country club. A reservation is required for members and for guests, as meals must be ordered in advance to ensure an accurate count for the chef.

“Anyone with an interest in taking a look at the club and talking to the members can contact me through the website,” said Philippon. “Join us at a dinner at the Nashua Country Club.”

Meanwhile, Van Wie said details about his Storied Waters Tour are shared online: watchyourbackcast.com. There, too, is word of another of his co-written works, “The Confluence; Fly Fishing, & Friendship in the Dartmouth College Grant,” published in 2016 by Peter E. Randall Publishers, of Portsmouth.

“I’m talking now with publishers to turn my Storied Waters adventure into a book,” said Van Wie.

The chances are good that members of the Nashua Fly Casting Association will be first in line at the bookstores.