UNI PRODUCTS FLY TIERS CORNER
A “New Wave” Fly Tier
The crew from On The Fly South first crossed paths with Cory Wheeler at the Turneffe Flats lodge in Belize during a fishing adventure back in 2018. At the time we quickly realized that besides being a personable individual, it was apparent that this boy could fish! Whether on the casting deck of a guide boat or wading the flats on his own, he seemed always hooked up with a steady stream of bonefish, tarpon and permit.
Cory Wheeler on the water.
It was later on through social media that we became aware of at least a part of the reason for his success. He was fishing with some very good fly patterns that he tied. Also, his path to tying proficiency has a more modern feel to it than the background of many of the old hands at the craft.
“I grew up in Cooper City, Florida until I was 9, then moved to Palm City and have stayed in the area since, except for a few years in Jacksonville in college,” Wheeler explained.
Surprisingly, Cory was already a fly fisher before the move to Palm City. “I have been fly fishing since I was about 6 years old,” Cory said. “I used to watch a lot of Roland Martin on television and was always amazed watching him catch tarpon on a fly in the Keys.”
At that point, a bit of good parenting aided the younger Wheeler’s fly fishing. “My dad noticed I liked watching fly fishing on television and got me a starter rod from Walmart to fish for panfish in the local canals,” Cory recalled. “He had some experience using a fly rod to pop for panfish, but not a lot. I had to learn on my own.
“I cut my teeth on the canals in Cooper City and fishing Holiday Park for largemouth bass, panfish, Oscars and peacock bass.” Wheeler continued. “Peacock bass may be the best fish to learn on, as they are very aggressive and forgiving when you make a mistake.”
Cory also got a very early start in tying his own flies. “When I was about 8 years old my aunt bought me a fly-tying kit for Christmas,” he said. “I tried a lot on my own with no instruction, but never produced anything good. It wasn’t until years later when I was in high school that I got more into tying. The Internet helped me learn what I was doing.”
Cory at the vise working on one of his patterns.
Unlike many tiers. Cory had no real mentor in the craft – at least not one he dealt with in person. “I was self-taught in the beginning, but I find myself now watching more and more tying videos on YouTube, which has made me a much better tier.”
A Kwan pattern from Wheeler’s vise.
As for his tying these days, he points to several patterns. “My three most popular patterns are the Flexo Crab, Brush Mullet and Silverside Surf Candy,” Cory noted. “Most of what I tie are variations of flies that have been done before. I do add my own flavor on all of my patterns. If I have my own signature fly, it would be my Bonefish Special.”
Cory’s Bonefish Special.
These days Wheeler does commercial tying as well, under the name CW Flies. Though he has won no competitions – in fact he has only entered one for fun – he plans to try his hand at more of the competitive tying.
Regardless of the reason for tying, Cory uses commercially-available materials. “Mostly commercial,” he agreed, “for quality reasons, but I have been known to pluck feathers off ducks and turkeys after a hunt. I have taken some wild coyote tails, as well.”
Wheeler is available for fly tying classes or group demonstrations. “Anyone who would like to learn, I am willing to teach and share knowledge,” he confirmed. “Best way to reach me is to message me on Instagram or Facebook.”
In closing, Cory offered some advice to newcomers to tying. “YouTube, YouTube, YouTube,” he emphasized. “Many tiers out there make great tutorials on patterns to catch just about anything that swims. Watch, repeat, learn and you will go from novice to good tier in no time.”