In this January 2016 file photo, 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: Courtesy of John Holyoke

There’s something special about fly fishing.

Time spent standing in waist-deep water, trying to land a dry fly gently on the nose of a hungry trout, is soothing for the soul. Ditto for probing the foam of a Maine river from a canoe or drift boat.

Naturally, being in a good spot, equipped with flies matching the hatch and having enough skill to entice the fish are of paramount importance.

That’s why, starting later this month, I plan to spend six consecutive Monday evenings at the Penobscot County Conservation Association clubhouse in Brewer. That’s where the Penobscot Fly Fishers is holding its beginner fly tying class.

Last year, Paul Markson, the public relations coordinator for the organization, had the opportunity at his table to teach three generations of one family — a grandmother, a mother and a grandson.

“Once you get there, you’re hooked, because you’re with a bunch of like-minded people,” Markson said. “It’s not like you were the only rookie sitting there.”

For years, I have dismissed the thought of being able to successfully tie flies. Most of that sentiment is drawn from the realization that I lack the necessary patience.

My former Bangor Daily News colleague and fishing buddy, John Holyoke, always assured me that I could do it. And friend George Quimby, who generously tied several flies for me after we chatted at the 2022 Cabin Fever Reliever put on by Penobscot Fly Fishers, even offered to teach me tying basics at his house.

Of course, that was before I unceremoniously snapped off a couple of his lures on fish strikes while trolling with him last June on the Penobscot River.

It wasn’t until now that the timing seemed right. And rather than put George through that kind of aggravation, I signed up for the Penobscot Fly Fishers’ class.

The sessions begin on Jan. 23 and run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on six consecutive Mondays. The course fee is $50, which includes all equipment and materials, along with some expert instruction.

The course will start with basic skills and simple, effective flies. It will go on to guide participants in how to tie a wide variety of flies, including nymphs, dries, streamers and bass flies.

“People just show up and everything is handed to you. We walk you right through it,” Markson said.

Penobscot Fly Fishers has offered the class for many years, and only once, in 2021 during the pandemic, did it cancel the event.

Markson, a lifelong fly fisherman, didn’t start tying flies until he took the course himself 12 years ago.

“It’s not just about tying flies to catch fish. I think it’s as much social as anything,” he said of the class.

Assuming that I have the eye-hand coordination to execute the techniques required to successfully tie some flies, I should be able to add to my small collection and acquire a lifelong skill that will bring many hours of enjoyment.

Of course, the proof won’t be in the pudding until I catch some fish using my own hand-tied flies.

So if you’ve been thinking about getting into fly fishing, or expanding your skills to produce your own flies for 2023, this is your chance. The organization’s president Don Corey can answer your questions or get you signed up at or 207-478-3173.

You can visit the Penobscot Fly Fishers website to sign up and pay for the class. I’m looking forward to learning how to tie flies from some folks who enjoy the thrill and tranquility of fly fishing as much as I do.

And don’t forget that the organization’s Cabin Fever Reliever is scheduled Feb. 25-26 at the Brewer Auditorium. The show provides the local outdoors community with a chance to talk fishing and other pursuits among a variety of products and informational displays.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...