Northview – Two years ago, when some of the district’s field students first stepped into the Rogue River and tried fly fishing, they used ties from members of Trout Unlimited, the professional organization that ran the class.
The next time the third and fourth graders cast their lines, they could use flies that they tied themselves.
Rich Youngberg, the district’s outdoor adventure coordinator, recently introduced students to a brief introduction to entomology, or more specifically aquatic macroinvertebrates, a word that third grader Hayden Borek knew: “bugs,” he said. “Insects.”
Emery Corpe-Edgerly cuts off some excess marabou (feathers)
In response to Youngberg’s question: “What do all macroinvertebrates have in common?” Hayden guessed: “You have wings?”
Klarer Youngberg: “Good guess, but not entirely. These are beetles without a backbone. “
Before the students created their own bow ties, Youngberg told them it was important that these replicas look like the real thing. Macroinvertebrate flies are widely used by fly fishing enthusiasts because their presence indicates the health of rivers and streams – and therefore an abundant fish population.
In groups of five, the students sat in front of a vise that held the hook on which they would build their fly. They wrapped marabou turkey feathers, saddle rooster rooster feathers, and chenille lightning bolts, simulating the wobbly beetles.
Hayden, who said he has already caught “about 2,000 trout,” said he could use his when going deep-sea fishing. Third grader Zia Duffing looked at her creation and said she would likely hang it over the lower bunk bed at home where she sleeps.
Ayla Whetstone shows the fly tying handout
Youngberg, who runs a fly fishing club in high school, said this was the first time he had run a fly tying class with students this young.
“I learned a lot about my teaching skills and fitting out by doing it with younger students,” he said.
And they didn’t just hone soft skills like patience, listening, following instructions, and the importance of practice: “What’s great is they’re using their fine motor skills,” he said. “I’m sure I’m happy with the end results, but it’s not about the end result. It’s their enthusiasm and that they want to do more. “
Fly tying will resume in the spring as students delve deeper into the study of entomology and macroinvertebrates. Youngberg hopes they can visit a river or stream to try out their casting skills, explore water health, and incorporate art by drawing what they encounter.
“The kids always love that,” he said. “They are just excited about anything to do with mistakes.”