James S. "Steve" Taylor, an industrial arts professor at Southern Utah State College, has been fooling, enticing and catching fish with artificial bait since he was a boy.
He started tying fishing flies - made of everything from cork to feathers, appropriately painted and decorated to resemble local bugs and flies - when he was 10 years old and, many thousands of flies later, he's still an advocate of fly tying as an economical and satisfying life-long hobby.Taylor, who has been teaching a variety of crafts, lapidary, drafting and other industrial arts subjects at SUSC since 1967, began teaching a weekly non-credit fly tying workshop at the college Wednesday night.
The class, which is open to all ages and to both novice and advanced fly tiers, has attracted students from throughout southern Utah.
Students learn how to make wet and dry flies, nymphs, streamers and attracter flies that duplicate larvae and insects in the Mountain West region. They also learn how to manipulate bait in the water, where to look for the best fishing and how to select the proper fly fishing equipment.
"Fly tying equipment is available from most local sporting goods stores and consists of a fly tying vice, whip finisher, thread bobbin, dubbing needle and scissors," Taylor said.
"Hackle pliers are also useful. The whole outfit shouldn't cost more than $25 to $40. The average fly sold in a store costs $1 to $1.50 or more so if you tie your own flies you will pay for your tools, equipment and supplies in a short time."
Taylor, who is also a black powder, muzzle-loading rifle hunter, is a taxidermist and has mounted many of the birds and fish he has bagged. For the past 10 years he has operated a part-time fly-tying business called Taylor Made Flies and furnishes stores with artificial lures wholesale.
His biggest customer, he said, is the Marble Canyon Lodge on the Colorado River in Arizona. He goes there at least twice a month to deliver flies and to fish. He fishes for trout, mostly, and some pan fish, especially bass.