John Spraker at Fly Tying Workshop
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The true essence of any art form is its ability to evoke emotion. These emotions can range from humor to profound grief, all natural human emotions. How about hunger? Even better, how about hunger in a fish? Believe it or not, there is an art form for that too.
Fly tying is an art form that requires intense concentration, dexterity and patience; it also has an ulterior motive. As Fly Tying instructor Gary Henderson puts it, "The object is to create something that a fish will believe is edible!" Attendees at the Festival received some very personal one-on-one instruction in the art of fly tying.
Veterans, who learned the techniques, thoroughly enjoyed the class, materials used, and even a few whimsical or comical anecdotes from the seasoned instructors.
One of the instructors, a Veteran himself, explained that the repetition and concentration involved with fly tying is very helpful to him because it allows him to "push everything else out of his mind." This can be a very therapeutic activity, as the group of instructors from the Bella Vista Fly Tying club know all too well. The group has used the methods to great success from recovering cancer victims to Veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. So, you have a form of art that requires you to use your imagination, create something from ordinary materials, and then it encourages you to get outdoors and commune with nature and present your work. Fascinating concept isn’t it? Oh wait, there’s a bonus? You might actually catch a fish with your handiwork…well, that’s validation and dinner!
By Darin Farr, public affairs officer, VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System