by Matt Walters
|Photo by David Cannon|
This story begins about 20 years ago growing up North of Atlanta in a neighborhood with a creek and a farm pond. I grew up in the same neighborhood as Kent. I remember watching Kent and his buddies catching fish out of the pond and creeks. My friends and I were slightly younger and tried to follow along and pick up any fishing advice these guys (that we looked up to) would be willing to give us. I received a lot of information directly from them, but learning through osmosis of just watching them fish was an unforgettable lesson.
Fast forward through countless bass, crappie, trout, bream, and too many late night cat fishing trips (oh the late night cat fishing....) and you arrive in the soccer fields at Brevard College in North Carolina. I'm receiving my first fly casting lesson next to Kings's Creek from my college roommates, Peter Caye and Steven Marascalco. It was quickly realized that this was not only a passion, but something I HAD to do and do VERY often. My mountain bike, backpacking gear, and conventional fishing gear began to collect dust in the closet rather quickly. My fly rod and fly tying vise were in constant use. In between college courses and "occasionally" skipping a few I would hit the local rivers or hang out watching fishing videos and looking at new destinations and new flies with my good buddy, Guide Ken Hardwick, at the local fly shop, Davidson River Outfitters. These were the days and I would fish as much as I humanly could.
The fishing didn't end in the mountains. I soon discovered salt water fly fishing early on and have been chasing redfish and sea trout around the Charleston, SC area for years. I typically kayak fish around the small creeks, but when another good friend, Capt. Elliott Hillock gives me the call to hop on the flats boat I'm all in. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to fly fish for bonefish in the caribean a year back, an experience of a lifetime and I was able to share that excellent time with my wife. I love the diversity that is offered between saltwater and freshwater fishing. To me life doesn't give you two better options.
After college I moved back to Atlanta from Brevard, NC. Wanting more information on fly fishing for trout in Georgia, I approached Kent to see what he was up to and to locate some good spots in Georgia. We caught up and he offered up some great spots and fly patterns to get the job done. I still made trips to the mountains regularly as I still had Ken's couch in Brevard to crash on which I utilized as much as possible. We would have a few drinks, tie flies and then fish the next day from sun up to sun down only to do it all over again until the weekend reached it's expiration date and it was back to Atlanta again for a week of work.
I spoke with all of my buddies over the past year or so about my idea for starting a fly rod & reel company and there was an overwhelming support and excitement from all of them although everyone agreed it would not be an easy task. I have always wanted to have some sort of stake and part in this great fly fishing community, no matter how great or small. I like to have the thought that this will be something I can tell my grandchildren about, a tangible part of something you love to do, the ability to chase your dreams.
I have bounced plenty of ideas off all of my buddies through the course of this start up and they have always remained honest and upfront through it all with their opinions and feedback. Kent has been a great friend and mentor similar to when we were in our younger years and I am truly thankful for that.
This year has been exciting and fun starting this new company. The fly fishing world is full of some of the best and most interesting people one can meet. I feel blessed and extremely fortunate with all of the people I have been able to meet and stay in contact with over the years and the new ones to come. I can only imagine it getting better.
I hope you learned a little more about me and where this company's heart is. I'm sure I have accidently left some parts of the story out, but to simplify things, I love fly fishing, tying flies, building fly rods, and meeting the amazing people involved.
Feel free to drop me an email anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org for any more information or if you ever want to go fishing.
Walters Fly Rods, LLC