Interview: Tim Cammisa, TroutAndFeather.com

 

Tim Cammisa’s YouTube channel had over one million views as of December 2015. That’s because his fly tying videos are simply amazing.

Tim offers extremely valuable advice on flies and how and when to fish them. So, when I started to make flies, I watched many of his videos and continue to do so, as I subscribe to his YouTube channel. You also can catch his videos at his web site, “Trout and Feather.”

I’m very excited to offer to you this interview with Tim. And, after interacting with him a bunch, I can definitely say that he is an incredibly genuine and generous person. He really is the persona that is portrayed in his videos.
Thank you for making the time, Tim! It’s great to be able to connect with you.
For starters, thanks for taking some time to pose these questions to me. I’m excited to share with the readers of BlogFlyFish.com and look forward to introducing many of my subscribers to your site, too.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where were you born and raised? Your family?
Growing up in western Pennsylvania, outdoor activities were always a part of my life. Both of my parents supported everything I wanted to try and experience, especially fly fishing and fly tying. My dad was into most outdoor sports, and loved to waterfowl hunt and fly fish, amongst other activities. Eventually, he fell in love with upland bird hunting, and pointing dogs followed. That was great for me, because it meant more feathers for fly tying!

I became involved with fly fishing, traveling to Montana and New York for many trips, and my Uncle John also introduced me to building bamboo fly rods.

Tim and his Uncle John

 

Soon, I met the love of my life, Heather, and we now have a newborn son, Angelo. Heather supports my habits completely, even building me a bamboo fly rod (from culm to completion) for my wedding gift. She loves to fish for brook trout with me, and we can’t wait to introduce Angelo into the fly fishing and fly tying worlds!

Heather fishing for brook trout

 

Outside of those two realms, my day job is as a teacher, currently 6th grade. I love what I do for a living, and being able to share both fly tying and fly fishing as two of my passions make me a lucky guy.

Angelo dreaming of fly fishing

 

How did you get into fly fishing?
Taking a different route than others, fly tying came first for me. An after-school activity program in fourth grade offered tying, and I was interested. I enrolled in the class, and began creating all kinds of flies, though I really loved those involving spinning and trimming deer hair. Some of those early flies were rough, but I was fortunate to hold onto them (and I always tell beginners to tie a few flies, and then put them away so they can look back at their fly tying beginnings).

I continued to tie, though didn’t truly start fly fishing for at least another year. Finding out my Uncle John was also an accomplished tyer and fly fisherman, I began spending more time at his house learning tips and tricks. Christmas that year brought me my first fly rod setup (a St. Croix that I still have tucked away), and I was “hooked” for life. That first time out fly fishing was an experience in itself, as I undoubtedly scared more fish than I caught, but I stuck with it and can’t imagine a better hobby.

Your favorite fly-fishing moment?
There are many incredible moments I’ve had fly fishing, and though not all involve catching trout, there was one special moment that will always stick with me.

During my first trip to Montana with my mentor John Dunn, I was unprepared with the right gear (particularly the rod) and inexperienced when it came to making precise casts. We fished some incredible waters, and spent the majority of our time on the Missouri River, which was technical fishing that demanded precision casts; quite honestly, I couldn’t make them. John kept reassuring me, and I stuck with it, but the entire experience was demanding and frustrating.

Tim and John Dunn in Montana

 

About halfway into that month-long trip, my Uncle John was driving through (he had taken his wife, Aunt Marge, to Vegas), and wanted to stop and fish with us. My uncle is very similar to John; both are extremely supportive and encouraging, plus nearly have as much fun when others are catching fish. As we started our float, there was almost a calm that came over me; my casts were connecting and I simply relaxed and enjoyed the experience.

With John rowing, my Uncle John spotted a nice trout, and proceeded to hook it; just then, I heard the tiniest noise, and knew an impressive brown had just sipped a Trico. Without hesitation, I made my best cast of the trip from a considerable distance away, landing my fly no more than six inches in front of that trout. The fish took, and my Uncle and I had a double

His fish got landed, and that was when we realized two things: My trout was the largest of the trip…and we didn’t have a boat net! We attempted to land the fish a couple times (and my Uncle even snapped a couple pictures while it was in the water), but after a great fight, the brown trout got off. Both John and my Uncle were disappointed, yet at that moment, I was elated because things were coming together for me, both on that trip and with fly fishing in general

That “moment” is one that I’ll always value, but not just because of that trout, but because of the time I spent with two of my greatest fly fishing mentors.

Uncle John at his fly tying desk

 

What is the best way to improve as a fly fisherman?
This is a tough question because everyone is on a different level and hopefully attempting to better themselves based on the waterways they fish. The best advice I can offer is the following:

  1. Try a new style and stick with it for a season – I had always loved dry fly fishing, and still do, but one year I made a decision that I wanted to work on nymphing in riffles. Thus every time I went fly fishing, I always spent at least half of my day experimenting with flies, weight, indicators, etc. in the riffles. After fishing, I would dive into books and articles related to nymphing and attempt to make as many connections as possible. It was tough at first, but after two seasons, everything began to come together, and now I nearly prefer to fish riffles above all else!
  2. Push yourself as a caster – Many say that as long as they can get the fly to the fish, why does it matter how the cast looks? Though that sounds great in theory, a precise one with minimal false casts is always beneficial, plus there are so many other types that can enhance fishing (i.e. reach cast, double haul, tuck cast, etc.). Looking back, I wish I had taken a casting class, and am considering doing so still simply because this is an area I believe can impact fly fishing significantly.
  3. Reflect on each experience – Like everyone else, I love to fly fish, yet that reflection piece is critical if you’re attempting to better yourself. Once I return home, I complete a “journal” of the trip, through an Excel spreadsheet I created. It’s been great for me to easily track successful days and build on what worked, especially by using an electronic document that provides easy access to past experiences. Regardless of the platform or system being used, I believe that making connections to prior experiences is a major key to personal growth in this sport.

 

Tell us about “Trout and Feather.” How did it start and why?
“Trout and Feather” has been such an incredible experience for me! I originally posted some videos on YouTube years ago, and slowly realized that people were sharing both positive remarks and feedback to improve the videos (though those first ones were rough!). I enjoyed sharing my knowledge with others, thus continued filming various patterns. As my YouTube Channel grew, I began to realize that there were a significant number of videos, yet YouTube didn’t provide a user-friendly way for me to group them into appropriate categories…hence I began to investigate website design.

After settling on the website platform, I imported my videos and found a great way to group the videos. Everything was set but the name, so I emailed EVERYONE for ideas. Replies were “TC Ties”, “Tying with Tim”, and a host of others, yet it wasn’t sounding right.

One of my cousins, Helen, kept telling me to go with “Trout and Feather” because of many reasons, but particularly because when I first introduced my wife to Uncle John, he kept mistakenly calling her Feather (and continues to call her that often to this day!). I really liked including Heather in the name, especially since she has been such an incredibly supportive partner through this.

The website went live a couple summers ago, and I was blown away with the positive comments from so many people. I want to keep the website current and responsive to what others are looking for, thus I update it on a regular basis, particularly through the various categories. The number of visitors continues to grow, and the entire experience has been rewarding.

What is your favorite venue for fishing?
There are so many “venues” that I love to frequent, but right now my current “go to” place is the Little Juniata River in central Pennsylvania. It’s got a variety of water types, excellent hatches, and lots of wild trout that can be technical at times. It’s also close enough to make a day trip, thus it’s a place I can be found frequently stalking trout.

What is your favorite species to target?
This is the easiest question you asked: trout! I will fly fish for just about any species, but at the end of the day, there’s something special about wild trout.

What is your favorite style of fly fishing?
Though I previously discussed how much I love to nymph in the riffles, if I had to go with one style, it would be stalking technical trout that were taking emergers. This style is very demanding, and requires precision in many areas, but the success of catching one of those fish is worth the price of admission.

What is your go-to rig? Rod/reel, fly line, tippet?
This really varies based on the style of fishing I’m doing, and even if I narrow it down to trout, there are a couple that I tend to use. For most streams, you’ll find me with an 8’ bamboo fly rod, typically for a 4 or 5 weight floating fly line.

I’m a collector of old fly reels, and love to pair them accordingly with the rod. If fishing dry flies, I tend to use a furled leader, something around a 5’ one with another 4’ of 5x tippet attached. When fishing larger rivers, I like a 10’ for 4 weight line, and I have a sweet Allen Fly Fishing Icon rod that I purchased a couple seasons ago.

I am partial for Lamson and Ross fly reels if I’m buying something current, though I tend to beat them up pretty good when fishing. For the leader with this setup, I will go around 10’, again for a 5x tippet. I’ll also nymph with this rod, though change my tippet around a bit.

Your Top 3 must-have flies?
Great question, and this is dependent upon the time of year. It seems like the three patterns I am always using right now are:

 


The fly you use when nothing else is working?

Years ago, I tied this hideous looking chartreuse estaz body streamer with lead eyes. I have no idea why I even tied it, but when I’m in search mode, I tend to put this on and it simply produces! By the way, no, I don’t feature a video of that one! 😉

Biggest unexpected surprise from doing your videos?
Reflecting on my experience over the last few years, it has simply blown me away to know how many people from around the world have benefited from my videos. The entire experience has been very humbling, and I love to receive emails from tyers around the globe, from Sweden to Australia, and even those who live in my state, Pennsylvania.

Best way for someone to reach you for a speaking engagement or just to say hello?
There are two ways to contact me, and they include through the “Contact” page of “Trout and Feather” or simply by emailing me: tcammisa@gmail.com. I reply to all messages, though it may take me a couple of days to respond.

Tim, this has been great. Thank you very, very much. All the best to you and your family!
Thanks for offering me the opportunity to share with your readers, and keep up the great work on your blog! It’s a great resource for others, and I really love that your site is similar to mine, opening up the worlds of fly fishing and fly tying to those at all experience levels.

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7 thoughts on “Interview: Tim Cammisa, TroutAndFeather.com

  1. Well done, Jo! These interviews are real gems. Tim Cammisa has been a great online reference for my fly tying. Somehow, I appreciate them more after learning that he's a 6th grade teacher!

  2. Tim being an old South Sider I grew up with many of the Cammisa famiy. I started fishing with flies in my teens with an old buddy from the South Side John Dunn, who I have just reconnected with in the last 5 years after not seeing or hearing from him in probably 45 years.He keeps telling me he is coming over to Penns to fish with me, but has been a no show, well anyway loved this article and the picture of John, tell him Pooley said "he needs a haircut' ha ha

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