I came to fly fishing in 1998 at the age of 33. I’ve tried to make up for those lost years before the fly rod ever since. My first cast was at sunset on Missouri Key en route to Key West. It was an instant addiction.
The idea to start Mud Dog Saltwater Flies came to me one day while walking with my black lab, Jack, along the bank of a local river. I had fished the river earlier that day and had been into a pack of breaking schoolie stripers and watched in dismay as my fly exploded and disintegrated as fish hit it. Two more of the same pattern recently purchased from a large retailer did the same thing. Sitting on the bank of the river that afternoon, I decided I would start tying my own flies and build them so that they would not only catch fish, but also endure repeated hookups. Recalling similar tales from friends and other anglers of flies that didn’t hold up, I reckoned there might be a place in the tackle industry for a small company that produced a simple, quality fly for a reasonable price that would last longer than just one day of fishing. I looked up, saw Jack standing in front of me covered with mud and the name of the business was created.
I spent two years learning to tie different patterns, fishing them with friends who are professional guides and making adjustments before launching the business in 2000. It began with a few guides I know, then a few local shops and eventually the online store. All of the patterns I tie, I have fished myself up and down the East Coast, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. If it’s not a fly I fish myself, I won’t tie it commercially.
From the beginning the objective has been to turn out simple flies that are proven to catch fish, be durable and hopefully be part of someone’s fishing stories. The greatest rewards in all of this has been hearing back from customers about their catches on my flies and watching students in the classes I teach tie their first fly and then go out and catch a fish on it. I’ve had the opportunity to fish in a lot of beautiful places for a lot of different species with some amazing people but my favorite water is around my home in the backwaters and marshes of the North and South Rivers in Marshfield, MA. While I am primarily a saltwater fisherman, I have developed another addiction chasing smallies and pickerel in the lake my sister lives on in Maine.
In fly tying and in my own fishing it has never been about the number of catches or the size of the fish…it is the stories, the experiences, the places, the people, and the fish themselves that keep me doing this. I started my blog http://backwaterflats.blogspot.com/ in 2013 to tell those stories.