UNI PRODUCTS FLY TIERS CORNER
Finding His Own Way
Kent Edmonds with a Chattahoochee River hybrid bass that fell for one of his flies.
Most fly fishers and tiers point to a mentor or two who brought them to our sport, or gave them a boost to the next level. That’s not how Kent Edmonds of LaGrange, Georgia found fly fishing. “I didn’t really have any fishing mentors as a kid,” Edmonds said, “but in those days you could walk or bike to lots of fishy spots. I did and learned along the way.”
That was in western South Carolina where he grew up and his early angling involved cane poles, spinning rods, crickets and worms. So how did he come to the long rod sport?
“Slowly, accidentally,” he admitted. “I used to see one guy up on the Chattooga with a fly rod. This was in the 1960s and there were still more moonshiners there than flyrodders. I didn’t really understand all that line in his hand and on the water, much less waving it all around in the air. But, watching him fish, I could see how he got his fly to stay in those little prime eddies, where with my spinning rod I could throw in them, but one or two cranks and I was out of the target zone.”
The Stealth Bomber
That was the epiphany that led Kent to fly fishing. “I picked up a fly rod in the bargain barrel at the hardware store – $3 I think,” Edmonds recalled. “Initially I put my spinning reel on it and used it to flip crickets and a split shot – worked like a champ. I didn’t realize until many years later I was high-sticking or Euro-nymphing. A few months later, I added a fly line, reel and Lefty Kreh’s casting book.”
The next step was into the art of fly tying and when that began is a bit clouded. “I don’t really remember,” Kent said, “but I started mainly because fly shops were pretty scarce and hardware stores had only very basic assortments.”
As with the fishing, he was again on his own. “I was self-taught for my first 10 to 15 years in fly casting, fly fishing and fly tying,” he confirmed. “I didn’t know anybody who did it. Hence, I was lousy at all of them. Years later, Lefty Kreh told me I had an idiot for a teacher and a student. He was joking – I think – but that was pretty accurate.
“In spite of that, I had enough success to keep me interested. With time on the water and at the vise, I learned. Then, I was lucky enough to meet some accomplished anglers and tiers. That helped me tremendously,” he added.
The Tokyo Spider
When it comes to supplying his materials, he’s done it all. “These days I use mainly commercial materials,” Edmonds pointed out. “But, like most tiers, I’ve used road kill, pet plunderings, ladies’ cosmetic supplies, hardware paraphernalia and all sorts of other stuff.”
These day those materials mostly go into flies with specific purposes. “Most of my fishing and guiding is on the Flint River for shoal bass and the Chattahoochee for stripers,” he said. “So, I tie topwater and big nymphs for the shoal bass and mainly big streamers for the ‘Hooch.’”
Today Kent’s flies have gained a wide-ranging following. “My best-known fly is the Stealth Bomber, a topwater popper/diver created with sheet foam. I started tying the original about the time of the first Gulf War. It was tied in black with no legs and the foam was cut in a delta shape, so it resembled the stealth bomber,” he described. “Over the years, I changed the shape of the foam to give the fly more action. River Road Creations sells cutters for the foam.
“I also tie a smaller foam bug – the Tokyo Spider, named in honor of the old Japanese sci-fi films – like maybe The Mutant Spider That Ate Tokyo. It’s more of a sunfish fly, but has enough size and action to entice a bass, too.”
Not all his ties are original. “One of my favorite flies is the Rubber-Legged Dragon. I’s a Carter Nelson fly, not mine. But I’ve talked about and fished it so much over the years, many think it’s my design.
“It’s a lesson in fly tying all on its own – nothing real fancy, basic materials and more impressionistic than realistic,” he continued. “But is it ever a fish catcher, including big largemouth bass, shoal bass and even trout. It works great as a dropper, since the bead-chain eyes are the only weight. It really excels on a fluttering fall and a slow, slow retrieve.”
The Rubber-Legged Dragon
Although Kent doesn’t really tie commercially, he does occasionally whip up some special request versions of the Stealth Bomber. “Rainy’s Flies and Solitude Fly Company license several of my fly designs and they are available at fly shops internationally,” he noted.
On the other hand, Edmonds regularly gives tying, casting and fishing presentations, teaches classes and does demos to groups and clubs, as well as at fishing shows. For those he can be reached through his web site at flyfishga.com.
For newcomers to tying, Kent Edmonds has s few tips. “The fly doesn’t have to be perfect or fancy for the fish to eat it. Think about and look at how it moves in the water,” he offered, then continued. “Keep a few of those flies you tie at first and the first one you catch a fish on. This may turn out to be a long and wonderful journey. It’ll be interesting to look back and see where it started.”