CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT – YOUTH EDITION
I am totally clear that AZ Fly Shop only exists to serve, connect, and grow the fly fishing community. Our community is made up of first-class human beings, always willing to assist and teach the next fly fisher their knowledge and skill. Our spotlight community member is Henry Wagy. He is an incredibly talented 15-year-old fly fisher. I have had the opportunity to meet Henry and his father, Scott through AZ Fly Shop. I had no idea we had a young fly fishing legend in our community. Henry is both a member of the US National Fly fishing team and a member of the World Fly Fishing Team. He has fly fished and competed throughout the world. Henry is a gift to the fly fishing community and we are lucky that he is also a part of the Arizona fly fishing community.
What does fly fishing mean to you? What about fly fishing offers you most satisfaction?
Fly-fishing offers an escape from the world and its problems. I find joy in just being out on the water in the wilderness. Or at least, that’s what I would have said had I been retired and living in Montana. While these two things are both benefits to the sport, I find different joys in the game of catching fish. For one, it is just that: a game. Figuring out what the fish want, why the fish wants it, and how best to get it there, is all a big, complicated, game that only few people get to really experience. Whether it be a wild brook trout, a pellet fed stocked rainbow, or a grass carp in a canal, it is a mental exercise and a challenge to put all of these elements together. Because I am a teenager, and a teenage boy for that matter, I do things for that adrenaline rush. This is why carp are my favorite species to fish. They give me huge rushes of adrenaline that usually leave me with shaking knees for hours after. Because I seek out these rushes, the most satisfying and exciting part of fishing for me is seeing the take. This can come in many different forms: throwing chubbys for cutthroat in spring-fed streams, chucking streamers at browns off a drift boat, double hauling a beefy fly through the wind at a rolling tarpon, or watching a carp lazily swim up to my fly and suck it down. Watching the fish eat is by far my favorite part of fishing.
What is Fly Fishing Team USA all about? What is it like to be apart of the team?
The USA Youth Fly Fishing Team is really two teams. The first team is made up from the top youth anglers aged 12 to 18 from around the country. These kids are all competitive anglers who train and compete locally as well as nationally. The team generally has around 15 members. The second team is the world team. This team is comprised of the top six anglers from the main team. This team travels to compete internationally against teams from around the world. One of the great things about being on the team is having a group of friends who totally get you. We are all obsessed with fly fishing and fly tying, and we all speak the same language. Even though we live in different parts of the country and come from different backgrounds, we have fly fishing to bond us together. When I tell friends at my school that I fly fish, they think it’s cool or they really don’t think much of anything at all. They just don’t understand it. Fly fishing isn’t easy to learn, and it’s a niche sport, so not many kids do it. My team members have all gone through the same steps to learn that I did. They have spent countless hours on the water, with coaches, guides, and by themselves, trying to figure this thing out. They are all extremely dedicated. They are also competitive. Because of this, we sometimes argue and we often harass each other. We can actually be really hard on each other. But when it comes down to it, we are a team, and we are tough because we want to be the best. We push each other to get better, and we support and trust each other to do our best while covering water during a tournament. If you overheard us during one of our almost nightly online tying sessions, you would laugh at how we talk with each other. It takes a tight knit group to talk and make fun of each other like we do.
What does having AZ Fly Shop in the community mean to you? What do you like about AZ Fly Shop?
A local fly shop is more than a store, it is a meeting place where information is shared and friendships are made. Having AZ Fly Shop is a dream come true for all of the fly fishers in Phoenix. Not only is AZ Fly Shop on par with the top fly shops around the country, it is our community fly shop. It is a place where any fisherman can walk in just to talk or ask questions. It is a hub for all of the fly fishers in Phoenix, and I am so happy that the shop is here.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I don’t see myself continuing in the competitive world of fly fishing…unless it is made an Olympic sport. That could change my mind. In five years I will be in college, probably studying business. I will most likely guide part-time in the summers, and teach kids to ski part-time in the winters.
Tell us your most memorable fly fishing story
Is there any advice or quotes that you feel everyone should hear?
One of the things that I have noticed, especially growing up fishing in Montana and Idaho, is that some fly fishers seem to get stuck on one thing or look down on others. In Montana, that could be: I just throw dry flies. Or euro nymphing isn’t really fly fishing. In Phoenix it could be: Carp are trash fish. While dry fly fishing is an art, and probably my favorite part of the game, it is only one aspect of what fly fishing has to offer. Having to learn dries, streamers, lakes-both boat and bank, and European style nymphing, has opened me up to all of the possibilities that the sport has to offer. There are so many aspects to fly fishing, and each one offers unique challenges and rewards. The same goes for targeting species. I am an omni fisherman. I like warm water and salt as much as cold water. All are fun and all revel different sides of the sport and the environment. They also allow me and my family to travel to different locations in search of different fish. Our vacations, sorry mom, are centered around fly fishing. My dad and my little brother love to fish too, and like me, they enjoy all of the different techniques we use and the different species we chase. If I had to sum up my advice to anyone getting into the sport, or for someone who has been doing it for a long time, it would be to keep an open mind and to try doing new things. You just might enjoy it.
Is there anything else you would like to add or share with the community?