Selkirk Secondary Fly Tying Club thriving

With help from businesses and experienced fishers, students learn the art of fly fishing and tying

With the assistance of St. Mary Fly Fishers

With the assistance of St. Mary Fly Fishers

Jeff Bates

For the Bulletin

The youth of Kimberley have long benefitted from the many activities available to them in and around the community, whether hitting the ski hill, biking the local trails, or participating in one of the many local sports organizations.

The local fishing scene, whether in the surrounding lakes or on the many rivers and streams close to town, has also been a big part of growing up for many of our young people. A group of teachers at Selkirk High School recognized this and decided to provide another great opportunity for students and started the Selkirk Fly Tying Club. What started as a simple gathering of students who love to be out on the water has developed into a thriving club for a devoted group of young fly fishers.

The beginnings of the club a few years ago were tenuous to say the least — starting from scratch, the club had very little equipment, materials were scarce, and the tying abilities of the organizers were limited. Over time, the club began collecting materials from local tiers, making new tools, even improvising and using materials from parent’s kitchens, sewing boxes and basement shops. This year marked a big step for the club: sponsorship was pursued, applications for grants went out, and a more formal request to local organizations made. The response was overwhelming, and the club is now in a much more stable position and the kids have the tools and materials to tie most any fly.

Through the direction of Lori Joe, club members applied for, and received, a grant from the Columbia Basin Trust Community Directed Youth Funds.  Selkirk’s Parent Advisory Council also got on board and honored an application from the students for funds as well. Once the club established a bank account to purchase the most important equipment and materials, sponsorship was pursued from fly fishing suppliers across the country. A major contribution came from Superfly and Joe Belohorec out of Edmonton, who supplied an enormous box of materials for both wet and dry flies.

Togen’s out of Surrey donated a dozen vices, numerous tools, and literally thousands of hooks. Randy Martin of Mountain Man Outdoors in Cranbrook offered the club 15 per cent off purchases of materials and supplies. Some of the other suppliers in Western Canada have offered discount on our orders. These contributions have allowed the club to become much more functional and less reliant upon raiding mom’s sewing kit (although it is still encouraged!).

One of the most beneficial connections the club has made is an association with the St. Mary’s Fly Fishers, who are a local club made up of both lake and river fly fishers from Kimberley and Cranbrook.  The club has generously offered to come to the high school on Wednesdays to offer their wealth of knowledge in both tying and fishing to the students. The amount of information passed on has been absolutely incredible, and their visits are always entertaining and well received by the students. These “legends of fly fishing” have definitely had a positive effect on the young tiers and will surely increase the success rates of their fishing adventures for a long time to come.

The club has been able to offer shorter lunch hour sessions twice a week, and longer, more in depth tying sessions on Wednesdays and Thursdays after school.  If you have a son or daughter who is interested in learning the art of fly tying, or already practices the art, they are encouraged to join us on those days. As well, any tiers or fishers willing to come in and share their expertise with the students, or possibly donate materials, are encouraged to do so, and can call the school  (250-427-4827)and contact Jeff Pew to arrange a meeting, or even drop by on Tuesday or Wednesday after classes end.  As spring is just around the corner (we hope!) the excitement is running high to get out and try some of our new patterns on our local waters. Tight lines!


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