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Have you ever wondered what fly fishing was like before it was a thing? Kelly Galloup grew up fly fishing and has been tying flies since he was 5 years old. He has had the opportunity to be an active participant in the evolution of fly fishing from a little known hobby into a world renowned sport. 

In this interview, April asks Kelly questions about the evolution of fly fishing, tying flies, and his own evolution from a boy on the Great Lakes to running Galloup’s Slide Inn on the Madison River. They talk about fly design and Kelly shares the secrets of the early days of streamer tying. You won’t want to miss his description of tying flies in the early days before royalties.

Outline of This Episode

  • [3:15] Kelly has been tying flies since he was young
  • [18:00] Royalties didn’t start until the early 80s
  • [31:03] When did he get into streamer tying?
  • [43:22] Everywhere he has been people told him that their fish didn’t eat streamers
  • [58:30] Why does he design the flies with hard material on the front?
  • [1:10:02] Are we swinging flies all wrong?
  • [1:25:53] How are social media influencers affecting the fly business?
  • [1:32:56] What’s in a name?

His love for tying flies was fostered at an early age

Kelly Galloup grew up in Michigan on the Great Lakes. His dad was a fly fishing guide before guiding was regarded as a career possibility. He learned to tie flies at a young age and both parents encouraged his hobby in different ways. 

Kelly didn’t really think that he could make a living at fishing until he was in his early 20s. That’s when he left the safety of his job at Shell Oil, started a guide and fly shop, and never looked back. Kelly’s story is distinctive since he got to see the evolution of the sport from the beginning.

Royalties changed everything about fly tying

Kelly got a first hand look at the evolution of the sport of fly fishing from a little known hobby to a  world renowned sport. Not only has he gotten to enjoy the growth as a guide but in tying his own flies as well. He used to design flies just for himself and his buddies to enjoy and before he started his own fly shop in the early 80s. His flies were sold only in his shop and used only in his immediate area. Once royalties were conceived everything changed and his flies were sold on a national stage.

Fly design isn’t about the money

Kelly has always loved the design aspect of tying flies and even though he gets paid for his flies he still doesn’t do it for the money. It’s all about the fun. For Kelly, designing a new fly isn’t to help experienced anglers catch more fish. He feels that the sign of a quality fly is when it helps a beginner or average angler catch fish. He remarks that his designs are a representation of his teaching skills. 

Don’t miss this interview with Kelly Galloup. Topics discussed include swinging flies, integrity in fly tying, designing flies for the right reasons, the future of fly fishing, and the names of his flies.

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