Spotlight Organization: American Museum and Fly Fishing

For this part of the Spotlight Organization series, we sat down with the American Museum of Flying Fishing. We learned about all the great ways this group of people work to remember all the things about fly fishing. Follow to learn what the museum has to offer, how you can use some of their features online and how to support it!

Flylords: Fly fishing has a long and rich history and, as with many historical themes, there is also a museum! Can you tell us a little bit about how the American Fly Fishing Museum started?

AMFF: Our story began in 1963 when Herman Kessler was conducting research for one Field & Stream story in the preservation of the original Orvis store in Manchester, VT. He found the fly panels created by Mary Orvis Marbury to represent her father’s company at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and at that moment the idea of ​​a Museum was born.

The AMFF was formally established in 1968 as a non-profit educational institution and over the years we have acquired one of the most important fishery collections in the world. Through strong and unwavering commitment, we have built a collection, a destination and a community of passionate fishermen who stand behind our mission to be the custodian of flight history. We would not be here today without the commitment of those involved in the promotion of fly fishing and conservation, and we are proud to do our part in preserving the artifacts, innovations and stories of this great sport.

Flylords: What are some of the main activities / functions of the Museum?

AMFF: First of all, we are a public resource and we are here to serve our community. We aim to be a place of reflection and inspiration – a cultural institution that collects, preserves, exhibits, studies and interprets artefacts, art and sports literature and, through a variety of information platforms, uses these resources to engage, educate and benefit all.

In 1974 we published the first issue of our quarterly publication, American Fly Fisher, and we still continue to present articles by the most respected fly fishing historians in the world. Nick Lyons summed it up perfectly when he said that “it plays a necessary role in keeping alive and important the lost past. It is our anchor, our heart and our memory.” As fly fishing communities and museums evolve, so do we.We have embarked on some unconventional projects that are really expanding our exposure and bridging the gap between the past and the present.

Flylords: Careful to highlight any exhibition?

AMFF: Exhibition! We have some really different shows in sight right now: Reflections: Fisheries and Nature in Art allows visitors to dive into a chronological journey of sports art. Smoke signals: Cigarette cards from the 19th and 20th centuries shows 125 postcards related to fly fishing and fly linking and how this early form of direct consumer advertising evolved. We also have a wall dedicated to the life and legacy of our founding trustee, Leigh Perkins, which features some of the most innovative equipment from his tenure with Orvis. We will open this spring On turbulence and flow: Val Kropiwnicki fly art-inspired artworkAND At the time of rotation: Fly Reels past and present. We are currently curating and designing an exhibition on Joan and Lee Wulff. There is no shortage of material, so this exhibition will be filled with photos, videos and artifacts. We are still making regular trips to Joan’s house to explore new parts and stories. At 95, she is still witty and one of my favorite storytellers. Tied together: The extraordinary lives of Joan and Lee Wulff will open on August 13th.

Flylords: While I love collecting my old flies that have produced memorable fish, the AMFF features a host of different collections – maybe even a little more high profile! Can you tell us about some of your favorites?

AMFF: Keep up the good work and maybe one day we can add your flies to an exhibition here! We have a whole room dedicated to the fly connection and the fly icon that can really only be appreciated here on site at the AMFF. A special feature for me would be Juliana Berners Ladies Collection. Dame Juliana Berners, a fifteenth-century English nun, is often credited as the author of “A Treaty of Fysshynge wyth an Angle.” This treatise was published in 1496 and for many years was thought to be the earliest written work of fly fishing instructions. Rogan of Donegal tied these flies now housed at the AMFF based on recipes in her book to commemorate 500 years of fly fishing. It is a particularly delightful way of interpreting the literature of the past and bringing it to the modern.

I have to mention it too Jack Gartside Collection – The boy was such an unsung legend of the stripper that he really had to get more recognition around the world.

Jack Gartside follows stylish ribbons

Flylords: In the world of fly fishing, there are so many amazing movies showing all the greats and amazing places that people love to fly with fish. Tell us about the new feature of the AMFF showroom.

AMFF: The Showroom was a long-term love affair. We had boxes and boxes with VHS and 16mm film stretched around the attic here and decided it was our job to digitize them before they were lost forever. The result is an epic-sized showroom with over 200 original titles, showing everything from early Lefty Kreh cast instructional videos to Jim Teeny and Lani Waller fishing for steel heads, Billy Pate chasing giant tarpon, episodes early Walker’s Cay Chronicles, original films. from our friends at Scientific Anglers, and some 1950s gemstones you won’t even believe. We continue to add it as we continue to digitize further discoveries like an in-house video box by Joan Wulff. It’s amazing to see these fishes that we all love today, but as they were in the ’50s to the’ 90s, so I think there’s also a big and maybe deeper preservation element in it.

For now, we have kept access limited to AMFF members only as we hope to pay a portion of the cost that went for this! Join now and you can use it right away.

Flylords: We were so honored to work with you all at Time, a film that hopes to commemorate the life of Lefty Kreh. What were some of your favorite moments from the movie or during the production?

AMFF: This was such an extraordinary film and an absolute blast to spend all that time in Florida with Flip Pallot, Bob Clouser and Blane Chocklett and of course the Flylords team. I think we all realized very quickly that we were doing something special. For me, as soon as I got Flip to say a few words about the AMFF and wear the hat with the AMFF logo, I was able to sit back and really enjoy the experience, for which I will always be grateful.

Many people probably do not realize some pretty cute AMFF Easter eggs during the movie, like the fact that Blane is tying his iconic game changer to the old Lefty home-made habit we removed for production. Also, in the scene where Blane pulls a tilapia out of the water, the fly in her mouth is an original Left Rogue tied by Lefty herself. Later, there is an amazing view of Blane throwing his game change game, so everything is in line with the “torch crossing” message we were traveling towards. These small touches made us feel a little more connected to Lefty and reinforced the purpose of the film during filming. I think that atmosphere really shines in the final product.

Flylords: Any new projects at work that we need to consider?

AMFF: AMFF is making a big push in the film world. Finally, we have opened an amazing one new exhibition in the Wonders of Wildlife in Missouri with a interactive film component (Great shout for her DrakeTom Bie and Simms’ Paul Nicoletti). We are so excited and honored to commemorate the medium of film in fly fishing, which has undoubtedly had a massive impact on the development of the sport from the early days of ‘A River Runs Through It’ to today’s Spins of Instagram. We are also launching a new series with Meris McHaney called ‘Fishing the Collection’ where we take rods from our collection (we have over 1200) and place them in the hands of young fishermen to try them in the water. The results are visually super stunning and reflect how far we have come in developing the equipment, while also honoring the beauty and style of the past.

In May, we are opening an exhibition here in Manchester with VK Steelworks, and then we have an exhibition by Joan & Lee Wulff called Tied together: The extraordinary lives of Joan and Lee Wulff along with our annual festival this August. The festival on 13 August will also have a film festival where we will screen the 20 most influential films in fly fishing, and there is even the possibility of AMFF members camping out here in Manchester. There are so many things that happen here every day that it’s hard to keep track of them all!

Flylords: How can fishermen access some of these features or learn more about the American Fly Fishing Museum?

AMFF: The absolute best way to do this is with becoming a member of the AMFF. Basic membership starts at $ 35 a year and helps us support and preserve the history of this great sport that we all love. Plus, there are some pretty sweet benefits (like access to the screen room). If you join from now until June 30, you will be logged in to win a brand new Orvis H3! (Editor’s note: this is the best shot you will get to win a new H3!)

At least, follow us on Instagram @flyfishmuseum and get a daily dose of fly fishing history!

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2020 F3T Behind the lens: TIME

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