Seven years ago this week, I shared my first post on RiverKeeper Flies. Actually, my wife is the one responsible. She encouraged me to start a website. Little did I know then where my journey would take me.

John at the office |
Writing a post along the Madison River

Initially, I thought it was a way to organize the fly pattern sheets I used and always had trouble finding when I wanted to tie a fly.

Here is my first post from March 5, 2014; was a little sparse…

The NW Fly Tyer & Fly Fishing Expo is this weekend at the Linn County Fairgrounds in Albany, OR. I’ll be tying each of the three days. Stop by and say “hi”. I’ll be watching many of the 72 concurrent tyers and catching up with friends I only see once a year. I always find something new – technique, material…wonder what it will be this year?

That was it! My how the times have changed.

I didn’t have a road map. I just started adding content on a weekly basis. It gave me something to do.

And suddenly, here it is, seven years later, with 724 posts and over 200 fly patterns. Little did I know then I would keep writing a post on my blog every week without missing one week!

Back in the early days, I was adding fly pattern sheets like crazy. Today, I’ll add one every once in a while, but it has sure slowed down. Many of the new ones are the result of a TBT post or YouTube video I’ve seen and decided to tie up some and try them on the river.

A friend of mine commented once I would run out of content and wouldn’t be able to continue writing each week. My goal wasn’t to prove him wrong; I just have thoughts in my head that need to get out, I guess.

I’d like to thank my friend and mentor Al Beatty for pushing me to improve my images. His encouragement and tips helped tremendously. Perhaps I should ask for him to cover some of the cost of my camera gear, since his gentle nudge got me running full speed downhill and couldn’t stop learning and investing in more gear.

And speaking of Al, he and Gretchen started Friday night BT’s Fly Tying where they teach the techniques and tips learned over the years. I encourage you to join in this week on Friday, 5 March 2021 at 6:00 PM MST and watch them tie a fly or two. This week they will teach the LaFontaine Fluttering Stone. (Join Zoom Meeting: Meeting ID: 987 1399 6231)

RiverKeeper Flies has improved my fly tying as well. That might sound a little odd, but when you put yourself out there for everyone to see and comment on your work, it can be a little scarry. Here are a few examples:

  • Tying Ray Bergman wet flies. While these flies appear simple, I still struggle at times with proportions when tying the quill wings.
  • Or my Tying Spey Flies – I’m Scared! post. I shared my story attempting to tie the Lady Caroline, one of the classic spey flies.

I started my Throw Back Thursday Fly posts after writing a brief word or two with an image on Facebook. Again, my wife asked why I didn’t post them on my website for others to view? Good question! I changed that with these words…

“If you are on Facebook, check out and LIKE my RiverKeeper Flies page. I’ve started a “Throw Back Thursday” post of older flies that were popular years ago and sometimes, but not always forgotten. The first two were a Tied Down Caddis and the Zug Bug.” August 23, 2014

Looking back, my third post (March 17, 2014) really captured my philosophy for tying flies. It was entitled Simple Flies and I wrote “I like simple flies. There’s something elegant about making a beautiful fly with only a few materials…that catches fish! Some people call them ‘guide flies.’” That’s still true today.

I’m humbled to learn when my posts or website in general are deemed helpful to a larger audience. Here are a couple of examples where I’ve been recognized.

  • Phil Monahan wrote a piece for Orvis News highlighting the $3 Dip. He linked a video by Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions of Matt Grobert tying the $3 Dip as well as my Serendipity and $3 Dip post about the history of the fly.
  • I was honored to be highlighted in the Nov/Dec 2020 issue of American Fly Fishing in their Masters at the Bench article.
American Fly Fishing Magazine |

If you have some time, I encourage you to use the Archives tab on the right sidebar and check out some of my earlier posts. There’s a lot of good information in them.

And you’ve seen the most recent reincarnation of Riverkeeper Flies…my new website I launched last week. I hope it carries me forward a few more years. Who really knows what will happen?

Thanks for allowing me to reminisce.

Enjoy…go fish, stay safe!

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  1. Well now!!! Seven years and you have given to the craft of fly tying and the joy fly fishing a place to be viewed through your eyes and heart. Your words and photos show your passion and skill as a fly tyer and fly fisherman. I follow the TBT closely as you know; for it is you, me and others who are humbled and honored to be able keep the flies of the past alive; after all, they beautiful and they still catch fish.. thanks, jc

  2. Thank you John. Always look forward to your patterns and following your fishing journeys. You’ve really helped improve my fly tying!

  3. Congratulations, John. Great job over the last several years I’ve been watching and reading and learning. Looking forward to the next seven years and beyond.

  4. Good morning John.
    Thank you for sharing through the years. Most important to me is you are and always have been a kind and gentle human being. God bless

  5. Congratulations John, and thank you for seven years of very enjoyable patterns and great stories.

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