This months member spotlight is on one of our founding members, Ron Winn. It would be hard to imagine that any of you have never met Ronnie as he has been an anchor for our club since its inception. Even harder to imagine is the ability to sum up Ron's contributions to the club as well as the fly fishing community itself within the context of this article. So what you get here is a sampler of who Ron is and what he has meant to fly fishing in our area. From being a Lifetime Member of The Fly Tying Group in the International Federation of Fly Fishers, to working with the Project Healing Waters, designing mullet flies that were astounding in their replication as well as his past participation in the Federation of Fly Fishers, Ron has always been in the learning mode as well as the sharing of the knowledge with us others. Growing up around here in the early 60's and 70's I would have to define him as waterman. From surfing, to commercial fishing and then to recreational fishing, his early life centered greatly around the ocean. He is a student of the ocean and always seems to have his path on a learning curve. It is hard to get Ron to sit down and talk about himself and pose for a picture but I was finally able to do that when he agreed to let me take some picture of him at his place. Here following are the questions and responses, as well as some pictures of Ron and his flies. Thanks to Frank Catino for the opening picture above as well as the various fly pictures following the below verbiage.
1) When did you start into fly fishing and do you remember the first fish you ever caught on a fly? It was in the late 70’s once I returned from college. It’s probably good it didn’t happen before. The first fish I caught on a fly was a bluegill. A good friend from Merritt Island got me into it. Janson Davis
2) What is your favorite fish to fish for? Probably snook in the surf but I do enjoy many types of fly fishing both sweet water and salt.
3) What was the toughest fish you ever tried to catch on a fly rod? I think any species when they get big. A 30+lb snook, 150 lb tarpon, a 12+ lb bonefish, or a 1+ lb bluegill are all tough. Snook however are smart, once they know your there it’s over.
4) When did you start tying flies? It wasn’t long after I started fly fishing as there were very few shops that had any available. Harry Goodes had maybe 5 different flies, Ace hardware in Cocoa had a few, and eventually Tom Lentz opened his shop in the Frontenac Flea Market.
5) If you had to pick, what gives you more pleasure tying or fishing? This has changed over the years. Today I would say tying. It uses an area of the brain I don’t use at work and really helps me escape from the daily grind. I haven’t forgotten the ends however.
6) You have always been involved with the fly fishing community in one way or another. When you first started fly fishing did you ever see it being such a long relationship? I never even thought of it actually. I just know I was hooked the first time out.
7) What do you like most about being part of the BFFA? We needed a club of here. There was one (salt water oriented) in Sanford/Orlando and although some of us commuted each month we soon decided to start our own. That was about 1987 and we had over 30 at our first meeting at the Red Lobster in Melbourne. West Marine is in that building now. We introduced a lot of people to our sport over the years so I would say that is the most satisfying.
8) Have any of your kids or grandchildren taken up the sport? My son and grandson have both done it but still prefer to pickup a spinning rod. I think eventually they’ll both return to the game.
9) What has been the biggest change you have seen in fly tying materials since you began tying? The availability of synthetics, from variety to colors, lead eyes, epoxies, flashes etc.
10) How did you come up with the design of your mullet fly and how has the design evolved over time? Having grown up here and naturally becoming a waterman it was impossible to miss the importance of mullet in the predator diet especially when the finger mullet ran in the fall. There were times where there was an unbroken “stream” of finger mullet for 2 months that ran down the beach. So I needed to come up with an offering when I started fly fishing the surf to imitate the mullet. I started with feathers and deerhair and then wool which quickly was destroyed due to lack of durability or became to heavy for casting. A few years earlier I had commercially king fished and one of the items that developed about that time was the use of polypropylene ski rope on the head of a large hook to replace the non-durable sea witches, but the only readily available color was yellow. Fast forward 8 years and I’m in a craft store and saw a roll of macrame’ cord and it was a much finer polypropylene and there were great varieties of colors so that is what I started using. Today with all the other commercial fibers outhere such as EP and H2O products the sky is the limit.
11) When you are deep in sleep do you often wake up with a prophetic realization that tying up a dozen mullet flies for Craig would complete your karma circle?
Those are usually BAD Karma nightmare type dreams.