The date of April 1st is a great motivator for most anglers in New York. These days it’s less functionally significant for the fly fisher – many trout waters, for example, are open all year under special regulations – but for the bait fishers and those who keep what they catch, the date remains a true season opener. Still, April 1st just rings well on a few fronts – tradition, the potential for spring-like weather, and lastly, a true opening for the year in fishing on most waters and for most species.
In step with the opening of the spring fishing season, the Twin Tiers Five Rivers (TT5R) chapter of IFFF offers its Fly Fishing Academy. Before delving into the particulars of this event, I’ll provide a history to its past, courtesy of current chapter President, Kirk Klingensmith.
The TT5R was chartered as an IFFF chapter in 2000. The chapter started its first year with a mission focus on education, teaching fly fishing by holding a casting seminar. Three years later, the event took on a form closer to Ithaca Fishing Day where many in the public were welcomed to try the sport through fly tying, casting, knot tying, and other fly fishing skills. These early events featured a very popular catch and release trout pond for youth and introduced fly fishing to an estimated 200-300 per year. Though the revised format introduced a lot of people to the sport, TT5R leadership did not feel the approach was providing attendees enough detailed knowledge to retain their interest in the sport over the long term.
In 2006, the chapter decided to revise the event format to that of a full day fishing school. Kirk Klingensmith, current President of the chapter, led the organization of the first “Academy” as well as developing the curriculumn. Initial staff included Joe and Carol Cambridge (Joe still teaches at the Academy) and Dave Rothrock. Both Dave and Joe have written for Fly Fisherman magazine and are known nationally.
This year will be the chapter’s 10th year of the Academy format. Unlike the original events, the Fly Fishing Academy is now more student-focused with a limited class size of 25-32 students per year. TT5R leadership has found that students pick up the sport more effectively through this format. The Academy has introduced or advanced fly fishing for over 300 people in this way.
The TT5R staff currently includes Chas Elliott, IFFF Certified Casting Instructor. Chas trained for over 2 years to achieve this casting certification. Three others on staff have been formally trained in casting instruction. Teaching staff includes fly fishers with well over 100 years of combined experience. Over the years, Kirk Klingensmith estimates TT5R has introduced fly fishing to 1,500-2,000 people.
This year the Fly Fishing Academy will be held on Saturday, April 8, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, at the Campbell-Savona High School in Campbell, NY. It’s open to adults and to youth, 11 yrs old and over. The class provides beginner fly fishers with the basic knowledge and skills to get started, and will help those familiar with the sport onto a fast track to improvement. Classroom topics include fly fishing equipment and its use, fly types and their usage, knot tying, reading water, basic entomology, fishing dry flies, streamers, and nymphs, and how to properly catch and release fish. Most importantly, students will get a chance to develop fly casting skills through three sessions throughout the day. Students can bring and learn on their own equipment but are welcome to use the club’s equipment. More than 15 members and fly fishing experts will be staffing the school this year. Kirk Klingensmith is the Lead Instructor for the Academy and Chas Elliott will lead the fly casting staff.
Class fee is $85 for Adults (ages 16 and over); $40 for Youth (ages 11-15, accompanied by a registered Adult). TTFR Members are also eligible for a $10 discount. Space is limited and the class filled quickly last year, so early registration is encouraged. Also this year is filling even faster. If considering enrollment, get your reservations in soon. Do not miss your chance to attend this excellent school to start or advance your skills. Prepaid registration is required by Fri., March 31st. Contact Steve Harris at 607-377-4956 or by email at email@example.com or Kirk Klingensmith at 607-346-7189 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.