by Kerry Premec
Coming down the driveway, the beauty of this northern Kentucky venue is almost overwhelming! The large lake and old farmhouse at Beechridge Conference Center are as welcoming as our instructor, Susan Thrasher, who greets everyone at the door. Susan, a great friend of NKFF, operates the Tennessee-based guide service Southern Brookies Fly Fishing and is a casting instructor at the celebrated Wulff School of Fly Fishing. After a delicious breakfast with plenty of hot coffee or tea, everyone moves to the classroom. It’s time for introductions, which provides Susan with insight on how to customize things for the group, and some basics about fly fishing.
The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly with plenty of smiles and laughs as people get to know Susan and fellow classmates, while swishing practice fly rods to get the feel of the necessary arm movements. Because the class is small and you immediately feel like a team learning together, even the most shy or unsure person comes out of her shell.
The day is well structured. Before lunch, everyone goes outside to learn how to assemble their personal rods or, select one of Susan’s, if they didn’t bring their own. The fun starts with learning the roll cast on the water. Susan comes around to each person to guide and teach as each person practices.
Soon it’s time for lunch and fresh-baked cookies and more time to get to know each other and to ask questions. After lunch, the classroom activities include information sessions about fly-fishing line, hook sizes, fly selection, and other “must haves” for any fly fisher, including some great tips from one of the finest guides you will ever meet!
The next outdoor session includes the basic cast with a short video that Susan takes of each student. This is the part that makes all the difference in understanding how each student is progressing, what they are doing well, and identifying areas that may need a little adjustment.
After the video review, there is more casting practice and time to try an array of different sized rods. Getting to feel the weight difference and how the cast has to change to accommodate the size of the rods is very enlightening. After a quick wrap-up and a knot-tying lesson, it is time to put on some flies and hit the lake for some actual fishing. Because the lake is so rarely fished, it is almost a guarantee you will catch something. The fish are plentiful and extremely fun to catch!
The class ends with lots of hugs and new friendships. Everyone is invited to join Susan for a relaxed dinner at a local restaurant and to share stories. After the first class last year, the group thought a stay-over option would be great fun. And so this year we implemented that suggestion. For the group who opted to stay this year, a comfy couch, a cocktail, and a fly-fishing movie closed out the evening. With such a large facility, we all spread out upstairs in one of several rooms with many beds from which to choose. The night ended with a train passing in the distance and the events of the day carrying us off to sleep.
I may be a little biased, but this is one of the best events we have hosted as a club. It is great for a beginner, but it is also fantastic for anyone who wants to improve their fly-fishing knowledge and to grow as a fly fisher. While acquiring the knowledge is very important, the building of friendships and getting to know Susan and other club members is an even bigger treat. I’m grateful for all who attended the first class and I am already looking forward to our next event in September!
Tight lines to all!