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Ligonier Outfitters offers free fly-fishing lessons

| Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Alice White | for the Ligonier Echo
Patrick Robinson, president of the Sandy Bottom Sportsman's Club in Seward, holds prize-winning tag numbers 3743 and 3744 that were placed on two of the several hundred brown and rainbow trout stocked by the club in the nearby Conemaugh River Wednesday morning. Each tagged fish is worth $50 to a lucky fisherman.

Opening day of trout season, locally dubbed “Fishmas,” is Saturday.

Many anglers fish with worms, minnows, salmon eggs and Powerbait. However, for the past three years, Orvis has sought to encourage fly-fishing as the preferred method for catching trout by offering a free Fly-Fishing 101 program in dealerships nationwide.

“The continued demand for Fly-Fishing 101 is extremely exciting,” explains Tom Rosenbauer, marketing director of The Orvis Co. “Each year thousands of people of all ages and walks of life are coming to these classes and learning the joys of this timeless sporting tradition. Our goal is simple — fly-fishing provides serenity, challenge and an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. We want to share this with people across the country. Folks all over the United States are extremely appreciative of this opportunity and the classes are specifically designed for beginners, with more advanced second and third sessions available.”

Ligonier Outfitters has participated in this program since its inception, and will once again offer lessons on Saturday mornings throughout April and May. In addition to the lesson, participants will also receive a free one-year membership to Trout Unlimited, as well as a coupon for $25 off a $50 purchase.

Ligonier Outfitters owner Dan McMaster said the program has been very popular, with anglers ranging in age from young children on up to adults. Last year nearly two dozen prospective fly-fishers learned the ins and outs of the sport in the Orvis shop on West Main Street.

“It's great,” McMaster commented. “Anything that gets people started, or people that think they want to start, this gives them a clue. Especially for the beginner, this answers a lot of questions. They can come in and not get intimidated.”

The introductory classes will focus on the basic anatomy of fly-fishing, including the rod, reel, fly line, leader, tippet and how to tie the fly on with basic fishing knots. Next, prospective anglers will learn the mechanics of the ubiquitous fly cast, a technique that has been romanticized by films and literature.

“It's nice for beginners. It answers a lot of people's questions; for an hour you might learn something,” McMaster noted. “It simplifies the sport and gives you an idea if you think you want to start. It's real low-key; no pressure.”

McMaster pointed out the success of the program, estimating that more than half of the people who took the classes in previous years purchased their own gear to test their new skills on a local stream.

“A good many will come in and buy a starter kit then, if they don't already have one,” McMaster said. “They say ‘I can get started for this much money. I thought it was going to be really expensive.' That's all good stuff.”

Orvis Fly-Fishing 101 will be held at Ligonier Outfitters starting at 10 a.m. April 19 and will continue each Saturday for the following five to six weeks.

To register, call 724-238-4900.

For more information on the program, or to find locations for advanced classes, visit www.orvis.com/flyfishing101.

Peter Turcik is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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