We had the pleasure of meeting a guy at the KC Iron Fly that is doing some awesome things with the next generation of fly fishers. Tyler Dykes teaches 8th grade Science at Delta Woods Middle School and in 2013 he started the Delta Woods Fly Fishing Club. It's open to all 8th grade students and they cover a variety of topics like developing casting techniques, learning fly patterns, and catching fish when the weather cooperates. The students learn to cast during September, fish some local impoundments during October, tie flies in December, January, February, and March, and then hit the water again in April and May. Tyler has 20 fly rods that have been acquired completely through donations and fly tying workstations that were purchased through the school. Fly materials, tackle boxes, waders, and other misc. items have also been donated by complete strangers, local businesses, and friends of Tyler. During their meetings they watch videos, tell stories, laugh, overcome frustration that comes with a new sport, and stay off of cell phones!
This year Tyler put on some really cool competitions for the students. There was an Angler of the Year contest where students earned points for learning fly patterns, attending meetings, and catching fish on the club outings. They had a fly box competition in which students had to take an everyday object and turn it into a fly box. They also had a casting contest where students were awarded points for casting distance as well as accuracy. If I was a young member of the club I would be super stoked about the One Fly tournament. Members can have 3-4 replicas of one fly and the person that catches the single heaviest fish wins. Awesome stuff Tyler!
I asked Tyler why he does it…
“That’s a hard question to answer. I don’t get paid for it, not that I am complaining, but because I gladly do it for free. I don’t need money because my reward is the smile on a kid’s face when they catch their first fish on a fly rod, or first fish on a fly they tied, an unexpected 2 pound bass on a mini-jig, or even the first fish of his/her life. The purpose of the club is to introduce kids to a sport that gets them outdoors, off the couch, off cell phones, off the internet, and to experience the real world. I want kids to see what nature has to offer and the hidden beauty that exists all around us that we often overlook. I want kids to see they can put their own dinner on their table and that it tastes better than what comes from a grocery store. I want kids to appreciate the fact that you have absolutely no idea what is going to happen when you are fishing and that is part of the excitement and wonder. I want kids to feel their pulse quicken when an indicator is pulled underwater or when their fly line tightens when retrieving a wooly bugger. I want to make sure a sport that I love with all my heart never dies and provides memories that can last a lifetime for the next generation of thrill seekers just as it has me. I want kids to see that fly fishing offers lessons that will serve them well in the future during their daily lives and that fishing mirrors life. I fish because it feels like there is a part of my soul that is set free when I am on the water and it feels selfish to not help others that feel the same way and have the same condition.”
I couldn’t have said it better Tyler and us at TMD commend you!