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Local fly fisherman shares expertise with youngsters

Only a few tools are required for fly tying: a vise, bobbin, scissors, hackle pliers and head cement.1 / 4
Artificial flies are made by fastening hair, fur, feathers or other materials onto a hook. They resemble insects or baitfish that fish like to eat.2 / 4
Jeff Mosner demonstrates fly tying one of his favorites flies, "the bumblebee." "Don't ask me why fish like to eat bumblebees, but they do," he said. It's great for catching bluegills, bass and crappies. (Photos by Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)3 / 4
Mosner displays a leech-like fly that he created.4 / 4

Nearly a dozen youthful, yet avid anglers caught Jeff Mosner's enthusiasm for fly fishing.

He led a fly-tying workshop for kids at the Park Rapids Area Library last week.

And Mosner divulged a secret: He can catch five times as many fish compared to someone using live bait.

"I kid you not. It's not well known, but when fish are shallow, they are vulnerable to flies. They love flies," Mosner said, especially in early summer.

Fly fisherfolk don't need to repeatedly bait their hook, which can be time-consuming.

Furthermore, fish often swallow crawlers, worms, leeches, minnows, etc., embedding the hook deep in their throats. It takes time to dislodge the hook.

Artificial flies, on the other hand, are unsavory to fish, so they try to spit it out.

"You'll miss a lot of bites. I might get five, six bites on one retrieve and I'll catch one of them," he said. "With flying, they're always hooked right in the mouth. They're easy to unhook. You can throw them back and they'll survive. That's the cool thing about fly fishing."

It's a myth that fly fishing is only suitable for catching trout, Mosner noted.

"I spent most of my time fly fishing and fly tying for bluegills, crappies, bass and pike," he said. "You can catch all of those — and lots of them — on flies. It's really fun, and you don't need a boat. You can fish from shore."

Hand-tied flies imitate terrestrial and aquatic insects — i.e., fish food. Some float, others sink.

"I started tying flies when I was about 13. My dad had given me a fly rod. Learning to fly fish, fly cast when you're young is a lot easier than when you're older. You're at the right age to start this," Mosner told students.

Most flies are created from feathers, fur, tinsel, cork and other natural or synthetic materials. Hackles from chickens are really popular, according to Mosner. All manner of bird feathers — ducks, goose, grouse, turkey and peacock — are incorporated as well.

Deer, rabbit or squirrel fur is also handy. Mosner even crafted a fly using fur from his daughter's Golden Retriever.

"You don't want to cut your brother's or sister's hair. I wouldn't recommend that, but take some of your own," Mosner advised, joking that he, personally, didn't have "much to spare."

Mosner said he can catch 10 to 20 fish with one fly before it gets worn out.

A basic fly tying kit generally costs $40 and includes a vise, bobbin, scissors and specialized pliers.

Fly rods are typically larger than the spinning rod. It utilizes a heavier fishing line in order properly cast a lightweight fly.

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