Andrew, tell me about how you first got into fly fishing & fly tying?
I began fly fishing when I was seven years old. I knew that my dad fly fished and I wanted to try it. I began tying when I was thirteen years old when I started to compete. I needed to be able to customize my own flies.
What is your favorite fly and place to fish these days?
My favorite fly recently is the waltz worm/ sexy waltz worm because of all the caddis around, but my favorite fly changes as the season does. This time of year, I love to fish the Nantahala River in North Carolina. It’s a 3 hour drive from Atlanta and puts you in the middle of prime trout water; including the Ravens Fork trophy water and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Now Andrew, how did you get into competitive fly fishing?
I wanted to get into competitive fly fishing when I turned thirteen. A good friend of mine John who had taught me and guided me when I was smaller put me in contact with Team North Carolina, where I met Josh Stephens, Paul Bourcq, and Chris Lee. Those guys got me going on all the euro nymphing and competitive stuff.
What was it like to represent the United States in the 12th Youth Fly Fishing World Cup in Ireland?
Being able to represent the United States in Ireland in ’13 and Poland in ‘14 and bringing home the gold medal both times has been a highlight in my life, and I look forward to doing it next year. In September’s meeting, I’ll be talking about my recent trip to Poland where I competed against the best young fly fishermen in the world and caught trout and grayling.
What is your favorite method of fly fishing?
I love to dry dropper fish. I think its the best of both worlds; you can take fish on the dry, but aren’t required to sacrifice the fish that are feeding a little deeper. However, it is important not to get stuck on one type of fishing. Different situations call for different fishing styles. Knowing what those situations are and picking the best style that catches you the most fish takes education and experience.
When you’re not fishing or tying, what do you enjoy?
When I am not fishing I play and coach tennis. I have also started teaching the secrets and methods that have been most productive for me out on the comp circuit.
When I take people out on the river I teach them how to catch fish. Not just put them on fish, but how to come back out and do it on their own. We go over different techniques and when to use them, how to read the water, current and conditions, where to find the fish, why fish sit in different places at different times. Fishing is a big puzzle I love helping people learn how to solve it – especially my friends at TU.
What has Trout Unlimited and UCCTU in particular meant to you over the years?
Trout Unlimited has been a great experience for me. I have met life-long friends and mentors. I have been able to attend and mentor TU trout camp, and have been TU “Teen of the Year”. Being a part of TU, especially my home chapter of UCCTU, has been a major part of my life.
What is your favorite program to participate in TU?
My favorite program in TU is the Trout Camp. I love spending time helping other kids learn to fly fish.
So Andrew, what is next on your fly fishing bucket list?
I would like to catch a Golden Dorado on the fly. The adventure behind it sounds awesome, and the fight looks unbelievable.