By David Klausmeyer
Maine occupies a very special place in the history of fly fishing and tying. For more than 100 years, inventive Mainers have developed some of the sport’s most enduring fly patterns. These feathered creations are among the favorites of trout and salmon anglers worldwide.
Perhaps no one has garnered more recognition for her flies than Mrs. Carrie Stevens, of Upper Dam, in the Rangeley Mountains. Many authorities credit Carrie with having invented the modern streamer, a style of fly designed to imitate the small baitfish that are the preferred food of trophy trout and landlocked salmon.
A Famous Fly Catches a Legend Brook Trout
At the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, anglers from the across the United States traveled by train and steam launch to fish the remote waters of Upper Dam and the surrounding rivers and lakes. Meeting Carrie and fishing with some of her flies was an important part of the pilgrimage. Mrs. Stevens used many exotic eye-catching feathers to create her beautiful flies. She also named many of her flies in recognition of the anglers who visited her at Upper Dam. But make no mistake: her flies were designed to catch fish. In 1924, Carrie used her most famous fly, the Grey Ghost, to catch a 6-pound 13-ounce brook trout. With that magnificent fish, she won top honors in Field & Stream magazine’s annual fishing competition. Almost overnight, Carrie Stevens became a fly-fishing celebrity and anglers from across the country wrote to her requesting flies.
The legend of Carrie Stevens lives on today. When visiting Upper Dam, be sure to view the plaque that was erected in her honor, and spend at least a few minutes casting a fly into the fabled, swirling pool below the dam. You should also plan a visit to the Rangeley Lakes Historical Society, in the town of Rangeley, and examine their large collection of flies tied by Carrie and other Maine fly-fishing personalities. And in addition to fishing in the Rangeleys, Maine has more than 6,000 lakes and ponds, and 32,000 miles of streams and rivers teeming with trout, salmon and bass, making the Pine Tree State a fly-fishing paradise.
Find a multitude of fishing opportunities in the Rangeley Lakes region of Maine.
Maine’s Fly Tying Tradition
Today, Maine fly tiers carry on the traditions of Carrie Stevens and her contemporaries. Young tiers such as Joshua MacDonald, of Mexico, Maine, specialize in recreating vintage flies and developing new fishing-catching patterns.) And Selene Dumaine, a young woman from Readfield, is a registered Maine Guide and leading authority on Carrie Stevens and her flies. These tiers, and many others, are keeping Maine’s fly-tying traditions alive and well.
Looking for ties, tackle and fishing gear? Find resources for outdoor and fly fishing gear by Maine region.
Learning the Perfect Cast
By David Klausmeyer
Casting a fly line looks like poetry in motion. Catching a fish with a lure made of feathers and fur seems like magic. With the right instruction, you too will be able to enjoy the magnificent sport of fly fishing. Whether you still need to learn the basics of how to cast and hook a fish, or you are an experienced fly fisher who would like to polish your skills, Maine businesses, sporting camps and guides offer schools and private instruction that help anglers of all levels. Many businesses and sporting camps even offer schools designed just for women.
L.L. Bean Fly Fishing Outdoor Discovery School
The L.L. Bean Fly Fishing Outdoor Discovery School offers a full program of fly-fishing instruction for anglers of all skill levels. Start by learning the basics of casting, and then progress to learn how to “read” the water, present a fly to the fish, and then hook and land that trout or salmon. The L.L Bean Fly Fishing Outdoors Discovery School offers both group and private instruction at their store in Freeport and on the water.
Fly Fishing Private Instruction
Many of Maine’s smaller fly shops also offer group and private instruction. Aardvark Outfitters of Farmington maintains a full slate of classes. At Aardvark Outfitters, you can learn how to cast and fish, tie a fly, or even navigate a drift boat down a churning river. The Maine Guide Fly Shop, located in Greeneville, is one of the Pine Tree State’s oldest fly-fishing retail stores. The Maine Guide Fly Shop specializes in private lessons, and with the help of their competent instructors, you’ll learn to catch trout and landlocked salmon on the nearby Roach, Moose and Kennebec Rivers.
Lodges, Sporting Camps and Wilderness Camps
And finally, many of Maine’s sporting lodges offer structured classes that help eager students quickly succeed at fly fishing. Weatherby’s Lodge, located in Grand Lake Stream Plantation, offers both mixed and women-only classes. At Weatherby’s, you’ll be able to immediately apply what you learn on Grand Lake Stream, which is one of the most famous landlocked salmon rivers in North America. Grant’s Kennebago Camps, situated on the banks of the legendary Kennebago River, offers classes and is an ideal destination to learn the fine art of fly fishing. The Lodge at Moosehead Lake also offers classes and private instruction for anglers of all levels of skill. Outside magazine named The Lodge at Moosehead Lake one of the “Top 100 Great Wilderness Lodges in America.”
View all Fishing Camp listingsor visit Maine Sporting Camp Association for more information.[x]Fishing CampsAbbot's Lowest Camp RentalThe Maine Highlands · AbbotBradford CampsThe Maine Highlands · AshlandLibby Sporting CampsAroostook County · AshlandAbenakis All Season CampsKennebec & Moose River Valleys · BelgradeWhisperwood Lodge and CottagesKennebec & Moose River Valleys · BelgradeNorth Country RiversThe Maine Highlands, Kennebec & Moose River Valleys · BinghamSmoldering Lake OutfittersAroostook County · BridgewaterThe Village CampsDowneast & Acadia · BrooktonDillon's Gunsmoke LodgeThe Maine Highlands · BrownvilleSchoolhouse Brook Guide ServiceKennebec & Moose River Valleys · CaratunkBielat's Outdoor Guide ServiceMaine's Lakes & Mountains · CascoSpruce Meadow CabinsKennebec & Moose River Valleys · Dennistown PlantationEagle Lake Sporting CampsAroostook County · Eagle LakeFish River LodgeAroostook County · Eagle LakeNorth Maine Woods Guide ServiceAroostook County · Eagle LakeNorthern Pride Lodge & CampgroundThe Maine Highlands · Frenchtown TwpChet's CampsDowneast & Acadia · Grand Lake StreamShore Line CampsDowneast & Acadia · Grand Lake StreamBeaver Cove CampsThe Maine Highlands · GreenvilleCasey's Spencer Bay CampsThe Maine Highlands · GreenvilleLittle Lyford Lodge and CabinsThe Maine Highlands · GreenvilleMedawisla Wilderness Lodge and CabinsThe Maine Highlands · GreenvilleMoosehead Hills CabinsThe Maine Highlands · GreenvilleWilson Pond CampsThe Maine Highlands · GreenvilleWilson's on Moosehead LakeThe Maine Highlands · Greenville JunctionEast Branch LodgeAroostook County · HaynesvilleClaybrook Mountain LodgeKennebec & Moose River Valleys · Highland PlantationNortheastadventuresmaineAroostook County · Island FallsCedar Ridge OutfittersKennebec & Moose River Valleys · JackmanCozy Cove CabinsKennebec & Moose River Valleys · JackmanLong Pond Camps and Guide ServiceKennebec & Moose River Valleys · JackmanSally Mountain CabinsKennebec & Moose River Valleys · JackmanEagle Lodge and CampsThe Maine Highlands · LincolnMountain View Drifter Lodge and OutfittersThe Maine Highlands · MillinocketWhite House Landing Wilderness Camps, Inc.The Maine Highlands · MillinocketSunrise Ridge Guide Service & Sporting CampsKennebec & Moose River Valleys · MoscowMt Chase LodgeThe Maine Highlands · Mount ChaseC. Moxie Gore Outfitters, Inc.Kennebec & Moose River Valleys · Moxie Gore TWPCamp Wapiti & Northbound Adventure Company Inc.Aroostook County · Mt ChaseAllagash Guide Inc.The Maine Highlands, Kennebec & Moose River Valleys · NorridgewockPenobscot Lake LodgeThe Maine Highlands · North of GreenvilleClearwater Camps & Guide ServiceMaine's Lakes & Mountains · OquossocGood Excuse Guide Service and LodgeKennebec & Moose River Valleys · ParkmanDri-Ki LodgeThe Maine Highlands · PattenMatagamon Wilderness CampsThe Maine Highlands · PattenHistoric Pittston FarmThe Maine Highlands, Kennebec & Moose River Valleys · Pittston Academy Grant TwpArndt's Aroostook River Lodge & CampgroundAroostook County · Presque IsleLong Lake CampsDowneast & Acadia · PrincetonGrant's Kennebago CampsMaine's Lakes & Mountains · RangeleyNiboban CampsMaine's Lakes & Mountains · RangeleyBirches Resort and Wilderness ExpeditionsThe Maine Highlands · RockwoodSouth Branch Lake CampsThe Maine Highlands · SeboeisBarnett's CabinsAroostook County · Sherman MillsBreezy Acres Camps & Guide ServiceKennebec & Moose River Valleys · SolonFrost Pond CampsThe Maine Highlands · T3 R11 WelsNesowadnehunk Lake Wilderness CampgroundThe Maine Highlands · T4 R10Nugent's Camps and McNally's CampsAroostook County · T7 R12 & T12 R13Loon Lodge in the AllagashThe Maine Highlands · T7 R14 WelsUmcolcus Sporting CampsAroostook County · T8 R6Munsungan Hunting & Fishing ClubAroostook County · T8 R9 WelsTea Pond Camps, Inc.Maine's Lakes & Mountains · Tim Pond Township, EustisJerry Pond Camps & Guide Service: "It's About The Whole Experience"The Maine Highlands, Aroostook County · WhitefieldBosebuck Mountain CampsMaine's Lakes & Mountains · Wilsons Mills (Rangeley)Bear Spring CampsKennebec & Moose River ValleysCrooked Tree Lodge and CampsAroostook CountyMaine Wilderness Guides OrganizationThe Maine Highlands, The Maine Beaches, Mid-Coast, Kennebec & Moose River Valleys, Greater Portland & Casco Bay, Maine's Lakes & MountainsNahmakanta Lake Wilderness CampsThe Maine HighlandsPorter Point CampsThe Maine HighlandsWest Branch Pond CampsThe Maine Highlands
These are just a few of the many Maine businesses that offer opportunities to learn how to fly fish. Almost all of Maine’s lodges and fly shops can arrange group or private instruction led by qualified instructors. And remember: fly fishing is a great activity that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Maine is an ideal classroom for your family to learn how to fly fish and enjoy a memorable vacation.
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