In this installment of our featured fly tiers, we had the chance to catch up Fly Fish Food’s, Wheel AND Curtis for this year’s Trout Unlimited x Flylords Trout week!
Fly Fish Food is one of the most comprehensive tackle and fly shops in the country. Cheech and Curtis have been fishing buddies since the early 2000s, where they never imagined opening one of the most popular fly fishing shops in the world. Curtis gained notoriety from his weekly column for the Salt Lake Tribune, which features segments on flies that hook and direct people to an accompanying YouTube channel. Cheech was a fly tying innovator; starting with Rainy’s flies. Cheech had about 50 signature designs in Rainy’s catalog.
Cheech and Curtis decided to start a blog in 2012, which led to them making YouTube videos, giving dating tips and tricks, at the behest of Hareline Dubbin in 2012, and spent the next four years “building Disneyland ” to fly groups worldwide. In 2018, Fly Fish Food finally opened, having enough space after moving from Curtis’ basement to a 5,500 square foot building located in Orem, Utah. Fly Fish Food dedicates 60% of their space to fly tying material, over 125 fly rods to choose from, a reel display that lets you touch each reel and everything any beginner or “advanced” angler wants to catch in his hands. .
Flylords: Who is Cheech and Curtis?
Cheech & Curtis:“We are two fellow anglers who love all things fly fishing, but especially fly tying. We have been collaborating on models, travel, etc. for over 20 years, and by chance we opened a fly shop. It all started with YouTube videos, gradually growing into one of the most comprehensive collections of flight equipment and related materials in the world. Cheech is originally from Vernal, UT, and I (Curtis) is originally from Ontario, OR.”
Flylords: How did you get introduced to fly fishing and specifically fly tying?
Cheech & Curtis: “None of us had a family member who introduced us to the sport, so we wandered into the world of fly fishing through outside contacts. Curtis used to tie flies and fish them behind a bubble for Crappie with his scout group in Oregon, and I (Cheech) started, and I’m still a pagan tackle fisherman. First I cast a fly rod in my father-in-law’s back yard; My wife bought me a fly rod and fly tying bag for Christmas that year, after which I tied flies for a solid year before I caught a fish on a fly rod.”
Flylords: Tell us a little more about Fly Fish Food.
Cheech & Curtis: “We like to think that Fly Fish Food is kind of like America’s Fly Shop. We try to reach people who may not have a fly shop near them that will answer their questions, provide the right equipment for them and will ship them very quickly. That said, at our brick and mortar store in Orem, UT we also have one of the largest selections of clothing and fasteners in the world with over 25,000 different items that we sell. It’s also very important for us to connect with our customers so they get to know the people behind the brand.”
Flylords: Where do you get the inspiration for creating new fly designs?
Cheech & Curtis: “One of the benefits of this job is that we can go through the shop and look at all the materials to put things together that work together. One of the biggest elements of the creation process is that you’re trying to either solve a problem that exists in the fly world like, for example, a giant fly that moves well and isn’t a pain in the butt to cast, or a super realistic flea or cicada model. At the end of the day, it’s just art, and the fish really is looking for a good presentation… BUT, that doesn’t mean you have to tie flies all the time.”
Flylords: What are your fall fly patterns?
Cheech & Curtis: “It changes every year for us. It really depends on what the fish are doing and where we are fishing the most. We prefer to leave the spawning fish alone in the fall, but the still water bite is boring, so we spend a lot of time fishing the lakes. Baby Fat Minnow and Half Wit Leech have been absolute killers in the fall for us.”
Flylords: It’s clear that you do a lot in the fly fishing industry, from fly and product innovation to educational tips and product videos. What is one thing you are both proud of?
Cheech & Curtis: “I think the biggest thing for us is that we were able to build a company that supports us and all of our employees in the face of a lot of opposition. We can’t even count the number of times someone told us we were crazy for leaving cushy corporate jobs to work in the fly fishing industry.”
Flylords: Cheech, tell us more about your remarkable fly tying achievement of tying 65 San Juan Worms in 20 minutes while eating a Big Mac in 4 bites? What was the inspiration behind that?
Blood: “As a much older and wiser gentleman told me… The angler’s rule is this – ‘Always tell the truth sometimes.'” I did tie 65 worms, but it was probably more like an hour with little prep time. Shop where the job needed little in the bins and I was paid by the hour…win/win. The power of the Big Mac was made in desperate times when money was tight and guts were high. It’s totally happened anyway.”
Flylords: Does Squatch like to kiss fish?
Cheech & Curtis: “Squatch absolutely loves to be in the middle of the action and will lick a fish on occasion.”
Flylords: You have a very impressive YouTube page with lots of fly tying tips and tricks, how can people find you?
Cheech & Curtis: “Check out our YouTube page, you can find it here. Trout are weird, we love creating new patterns and creating a video to share how to tie it. You can find us on Instagram @flyfishfood.”
Thanks so much to Cheech and Curtis for taking the time to chat with us about all that goes on at Fly Fish Food. Be sure to follow them on Instagram @flyfishfood. Follow along for more content from this year’s Trout Unlimited x Flylords Trout Week!