MONTROSE – The ancient art of fly fishing is celebrated worldwide and has the power to connect people with nature, and to one another, like no other activity.
Psychiatrists have prescribed it to as a way to clear the mind, while others, labeled "fishaholics," spend their entire lives chasing the next "big one." The “fish story” is probably as old as language.
In Montrose, the owners and creators of Potamoi Anglers have scheduled a series of fly-tying classes this winter with the aim to educate and draw more people to the sport.
This Saturday, Potamoi Anglers, at 1246 East Main, will host a class by Norman Maktima, a member of the USA Fly Fishing Team who in June finished sixth at the World Fly Fishing Championships held in Slovenia.
Maktima, a guide from Santa Fe, is volunteering his time to deliver a two-hour-plus class providing practical knowledge in turning bare hooks into lures – textured fusions of wire, feathers and fur – woven with the colors of nature. The 10 a.m. Dec. 1 class is open for the public.
"We wanted to start the classes to get people amped about fly tying for the next season. And to try to let people know that there is winter fishing, and you can always find a place to fish in the winter," co-owner Paul Nogueira told The Watch.
Nogueira, 28, began fishing at the age of four, casting lines for trout into the clear waters of West Yellowstone and southern Montana with his grandfather, Fred Losch, while on vacation from southern California.
You could say he was hooked.
From there Nogueira dedicated his life to the industry, becoming a guide based out of Pagosa Springs, and now owning his own shop with business partner and longtime friend Devan Ence.
Ence, also 28, grew up in Utah and Longmont, Colo., learning to fish on the Conejos river where he would later guide and work in a local fly shop. After Nogueira suffered a serious back injury on a fishing boat, he said he got a call from Ence asking if opening a fly shop might be a good idea and where a good location would be.
"We looked around and we really liked Montrose. We had been doing it a long time, working in the industry for other people, and we just decided to just say, "Hey, it's time to start doing it for ourselves," Ence said. From those conversations, Potamoi Anglers opened Feb. 4, of this year.
Ence said the idea to offer fly-tying classes grew with the knowledge that Montrose and its surrounding area features year-round fishing and is not just limited to certain seasons.
"During the winter everybody is thinking about fishing, but the opportunities to fish in the winter are a lot more limited. So when you’re sitting in your house and it's real nasty outside you can still do it. We wanted to give people new ideas and new tricks to fly-tying," Ence said.
An in-store camera and video system has been set up to project the movements of the teacher’s hands to a display on a big-screen television. With this technology, students can better observe what the teacher is doing. Nogueira and Ence both agree, Maktima's youthfulness and growing list of accomplishments will provide useful, practical knowledge to both experts and hobbyists.
"Basically I'm a big fan of being efficient as a fly tier, so [the class will be] looking at efficiency and cleaner flies with less steps. Being able to tie these flies quickly and make them appealing to fish is part of the efficiency of the process," Maktima said.
He said his experience has shown that fishermen tend to overburden themselves with "gadgets" and too much gear, and added he is always learning new ways to be more efficient on the water.
Maktima said students attending Saturday will be taught to tie a couple of different patterns, but it's more "about having fun with the materials and being more on the creative side."
"Norm is just a really good guy and fisherman," Nogueira said. "[The class] will be a time where people can come in just to observe. Everyone seems to have a really good time, you can share your fishing stories after its done."
Ence also announced that on Jan. 19 the shop will be hosting world-renowned fly fisherman and fly-tier Charlie Craven. "If there is a 'dean of fly-tying,' well, Charlie is the dean of fly-tying," according to Potamoi's website.
"We going to need at least 75 chairs for that one," Nogueira said with excitement.
Craven's class is expected to last longer than two-hours, followed by a question-and-answer exchange with students, and a book signing.
For more information about upcoming classes and news visit: www.potamoianglers.com/