About 20 people attended the Washington Council’s first online meeting for club presidents and officers in February and I hope it won’t be the last. The purpose of the gathering was to introduce the services the council is offering to help clubs set up or expand their online fly tying groups. The effort was well received and most of the 21 affiliate clubs in the Washington Council had a representative at the meeting. There are many ways to get involved with the tying effort and a separate story about the tying services on page X in this newsletter explains how. 

The one-hour meeting generated conversation and questions about how online tying groups can benefit club members. Isolation during this pandemic is gradually fraying the social fabric that holds FFI clubs together. Online tying groups can help knit a club together until we emerge from this. Seventeen of the clubs in the council are holding board meetings online over services such as Zoom. Most of those clubs hold monthly membership meetings online as well. Online everybody can see one another, tell stories of solo fishing adventures and maybe raise a glass. But for those clubs that also have launched online tying groups –about 8 or 10 clubs—the social benefits are even greater. Sharing skills and comradery is what happens at club meetings and outings. In today’s online only world, fly tying is the closest thing a club can offer to that real world interaction. 

The Wasilla Fly Fishing Club in Alaska has been holding an online tying group since early fall, said Gary Eichhorn in a recent phone call. From regular tying, the program has expanded to include tying competitions. FFI members from clubs in Anchorage and Fairbanks are also joining for the fun of it. The Washington Fly Fishing Club in Seattle has been hosting a tying group since fall. Clark-Skamania Flyfishers got their online tying going about the same time. Officers of both clubs report the events are enjoying consistent attendance and interest.

In this pandemic world consistent attendance and interest is just what FFI clubs hope for. That’s why the Washington Council is offering three specific services to help clubs do just that. Credit for the effort goes to Sam Matalone, a director and Webmaster for the Washington Council, and Neal Hoffberg, a member of the Washington Fly Fishing Club. The two have put their heads together and created ways to lend a hand. They’ve thought through the steps from picking the right camera, to set up, to creating step-by-step instruction. For clubs that have already started tying online, the council has organized a group of guest tiers who can join your meetings to expand the instruction. From bass flies to a size 22 parachute Adams, the Washington Council has a tier that can assist your club. The council also is considering creating a regular statewide tying theater that would feature accomplished tiers from around Washington and Alaska. 

This pandemic will end sometime. An online tying group can help clubs rebuild healthy interaction until then.