The purpose of teaching the fly-tying course at the Museum was two-fold. First, fly-tying is primarily based on entomology, which goes with our bug-themed exhibitions we're having right now. Fly-fishing is an art form in of itself, where you cast your line from the fishing rod to actively fish, hoping that the lures that you tied on your hooks and the action of your line mimic insects or other invertebrate prey enough to get a fish to bite. When people think of fly-fishing they normally think of salmon or trout fishing, but it also can be used for other local fishes in different streams and bodies of water. Here in Oklahoma most people fish for bass, but there are other fish that will be tempted by a well-tied fly and a well trained fisherman!
|Example of an Adam's Dry Fly, mimicking a Midge. From Wikipedia.com|
As Andy Boswell, our entomologist and avid fly-fisher instructor, told us: fish are picky. Especially trout. If the lure doesn't act or look like a normal insect from the stream they are from, its unlikely that they will go after it. This is where entomology comes in, as he pointed out. If you are in an area that you plan to fish, it helps to investigate the water and environment around the river to see what insects are arriving and emerging from the water. That way, you can best mimic native insects the fish would eat when you tie your lures. For example, if only yellow mayflies are coming out of the river that you plan to fish and you have a ton of brown mayfly lures, you probably aren't going to fool the fish. Especially since its thought that fish can see color, so they do pay attention!
|Andy teaching the class|
We're hoping to continue teaching the class or at least having a more advanced class for those who came to this first class. The second reason we taught this course was to try to reach a different demographic of Oklahomans that normally wouldn't visit the museum, and I think we accomplished that. Most people that come to our museum are families: we are very successful at children's and family programming. However, there is a lot of areas we can improve on with adult programing, and this maybe is a neat way we can teach the science behind some of the popular nature sports in our state. Andy was a fantastic instructor and we hope to get him back soon, but we also are looking for native Oklahomans too that might have insight about Oklahoman insects if we continue this long-term.
|Other students in the class tying away!|