HEART OF ALENE – Surrounded by drawers of floor-to-ceiling material and stacks of brightly colored yarn, fly fisherman Joe Roope speaks easily but authoritatively about his favorite sport.
Roope, owner of Castaway Fly Fishing Shop, got his first fly tying contract at age 11. Hired by Orvis, Roope spent several winters riding crude flies, 144 flies per unit. Producing about 15 roughs per pattern, he worked five or six patterns each winter.
“It was something I loved to do,” he said.
With over 250 models memorized, Roope’s knowledge is actually much broader.
“It’s probably tens of thousands of models that I’ve linked,” Roope said. These 250 are just the basics.
“There were these original designs, and then it’s like trees growing out of there,” Roope said. “If you took a snapshot of my boxes right now and took a snapshot of my boxes 30 years ago, there would be some models that you would find there and others that turned into something different. . “
Now 54, Roope opened his first fly shop at the age of 13, with the help of his father, Joe Roope Sr. Little Dutchman Flies was in business on Fruitland Lane during his high school years. Coeur d’Alene de Roope.
This has spread to the outfitter, and in addition to its location in Coeur d’Alene, Roope owns Castaway Outfitters in Enaville, established in 1981.
Weather conditions change and the behavior of the fish varies from season to season, making a knowledgeable guide a necessity more than a luxury, he said.
Fly fishing uses a handcrafted lure created on a hook that is held in a vise attached to a table. Using a variety of materials such as beads, thread, garlands, feathers and fur, intricate patterns are created with the aim of “imitating something found in food (from fish) “.
Whether it is a terrestrial or aquatic insect, the flies are designed to reproduce the desirable pieces for fishing in the area, something like a caddis fly, for example.
“A really big bug,” Roope said. “The trout love them.”
Fly fishing was originally a sport played by European feudal landowners and was later seen as a subsistence activity, Roope said. Over the years, it has become a social sport widely enjoyed by all ages.
“It has become part of the fabric of Coeur d’Alene,” Roope said.
A legend of the local fly fishing scene, Roope took Duane and Lola Hagadone on guided expeditions.
“I would be like the caddy,” Roope said. “We would put away the shots and call up the footage.”
Roope enjoys helping people get the good “endorphins in their brains” that come from fishing.
“They have a successful fishing experience and they continue to do so,” he said. “You are slowly entering different environments and experiences. This is something positive.
When Roope started, the local fishermen were all WWII and Korean War veterans. Now he’s grown to include the YouTube generation, he said.
“They all approach it a little differently,” Roope said. Exposure on YouTube has been a good thing, although sometimes people think they already know it all, he added.
The 90s saw a postage stamp featuring a Royal Wulff dry fly, which spurred a new generation of fly fishing popularity. The 1992 film “A River Runs Through It” also changed the public image of fly fishing, Roope said.
Now the store sells more flies than Roope can personally tie. He has several levels and expedition guides that work for him. And he found he liked fly tying with more variety and smaller amounts than in his early years.
“You know my office is a really, really cool office when I’m guiding,” he said. “But it’s all about the fly, because the fly is the thing that makes the fish make the mistake.”
Shipwrecked Fly Fishing Shop: 1114 N. 4th St., Coeur d’Alene