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CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT – YOUTH EDITION

Henry Wagy

 

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.

-Chris Rich

henry-wagey

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.

henry wagey

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

It is hard to pin down one particular memory, but there is one very special place that we call Bob’s Hole. It is located on the North Fork of the Salmon river, and it runs through our friend Bob’s property. I learned how to fly fish at Bob’s. Armed with my trusty Reddington Minnow, and my dad as my guide, I would throw cast after cast, trying to stay out of the trees, hoping to get a trout to rise for a Royal Coachmen. I was five years old, and I was obsessed. I begged to go down to Bob’s every day to fish. As the years went by my skill level improved, and I began catching more, and bigger, fish. I threw my first double haul at Bob’s when I was seven, after learning the technique from local Phoenix guide Manny Chee. I began to nymph and throw streamers at Bob’s too. One day we looked into the hole and we saw what we thought were a bunch of small logs. This was the day that Bob’s hole changed forever. Those logs were big bull trout that had come up from the main fork of the Salmon river. They would aggressively attack my nymphs and streamers, but I could not hold on to them. They fought too hard. When I was finally able to land one it was close to 30 inches. It was so big it wouldn’t fit in the net. What a spectacularly beautiful and powerful fish it was. And what a spectacular and special place Bob’s is. My little brother learned to fly fish at Bob’s too. Bob has passed, but we know that he is looking down smiling every time we stop by there to fish. A great local fishing memory was the time I met Bare Trapp. It was a typical Phoenix fishing day. I decided to go to a bass lake that I knew also held some massive carp. I caught a few bass, and I was having a great time when I saw someone start to throw in fish food. I walked over and tied on a carp fly. On my first cast I hooked a big grass carp (25 pounds). I happened to look towards the parking lot, and I saw a redheaded guy with a fly rod and a little trout net running at me yelling, “Yo, do you need a net?”. It was Bare, and he helped me land the fish with that tiny net. Since I had to leave, he told me to stop by the shop sometime. This made me excited because I had heard about the shop, but not been there yet. Now I had a connection, with another carp fanatic, and a motivation to get there quickly.

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?

I would like to find a way to give back to the community, either through teaching young kids, or through introducing newer, or competitive, techniques that could be beneficial for established fly fishers. I am fortunate to have been trained by some of the best coaches and guides, and I have learned cutting edge techniques from top anglers on the comp circuit. I know that not all fly fishers like completive angling, and I totally understand. That said, these are anglers who are pushing the boundaries and limits of what fly fishing can be, and we can all benefit from their knowledge.

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