Rob Dunnett of the Penobscot Fly Fishers shows the fly that he's tying on a video monitor at a recent introductory fly tying class in Brewer. Credit: John Holyoke

Come January, some folks’ thoughts turn to skiing or ice fishing or snowmobiling. Some choose to sit down at a vise and tie a few flies that they’ll use months later, when warm weather finally returns.

If you’ve ever wanted to join that third group and tie your own flies, there’s a local organization that will demystify the process and put you well on the way toward becoming a competent tier.

The Penobscot Fly Fishers will again stage their beginner fly tying course, which will start Jan. 6 and be held on six consecutive Monday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. The course will be held at Penobscot County Conservation Association’s Brewer clubhouse, and the admission fee is $50.

That fee includes use of all equipment, and all materials — feathers, fur, thread, the works — will also be provided.

Rob Dunnett of the PFF is not only one of the lead instructors in the class, but he’s also a proud graduate of it, having taken the class 11 years ago.

“Most of the people that teach started in this class. We’ve been there. We understand what they went through,” Dunnett said. “I thought, with my sausage fingers when I first took the class I’d never be able to do this, and I’ve gotten better at it.”

The class features step-by-step instructions for each fly, and students get plenty of individual attention.

“We have a lead instructor who will demonstrate tying the fly on a huge screen, The fly is about 9 inches big up on the screen, and then we have individual instructors at each table,” Dunnett said. “So there’s there’s like four students to a table, and at least one instructor and sometimes two, so there’s a lot of hands on. If you’re struggling with something they’ll walk you through it “

Dunnett said that different kinds of potential fly tiers sign up for the class. Some are anglers already. Some aren’t. And some are just looking for an outlet for their creativity.

“We’ve had people who have come in, and they’ve never tied before, they’ve never fished before, so they’re looking for a new hobby,” he said. “Our goal is to give somebody the basic skills so that once they leave the six-week class they can work from there to tie most flies that they might want to tie.”

The class is largely geared toward adults, but the PFF does accept students as young as 12. Any student younger than 16 must have a parent attend classes with them.

If you’re interested send email to

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...