2021 F3T Behind the Lens: Escape

For this Installment of F3T Behind the Lens we caught up with Ryan Kelly otherwise known as Green River Fly Fisher. This film isn’t about your extreme adventure or far off mystical fish species, it’s about something closer to home. Something that isn’t talked about enough. Something that we can all relate too by being a part of this amazing Fly Fishing Community. That something being, what does fly fishing mean to you? Well for a lot of us its a passion and love for not only the sport but the fish we chase as well. In Ryan’s case it means more than just the passion for those fish, it means life, it means being able to move and experience the next day.

Image Courtesy: Ryan Kelly

Life for Ryan was flipped upside down when he was diagnosed with an auto immune disease that made the pain in his bones, skin, and muscles unbearable if he stopped moving. The doctors requirements were that he be outside as much as possible and to exercise a tremendous amount. Which for us fly fisherman can only mean one thing. Enjoy Ryan’s amazing story and make sure to tune into the 2021 Fly Fishing Film Tour to see the full film.

Flylords: If you have a message that you are trying to convey through this short movie. What would that message be?  

Ryan: What a challenging question. I wanted to inspire those who have challenges that never give them a day off. Whether it is a disease, mental illness, PTSD, anxiety, addiction, or anything else, that there is a great benefit to fighting the frustration that comes with these challenges and turning them into something amazing. Also, that you can’t do it alone. It takes an amazing support system.

Image Courtesy: Ryan Kelly
Flylords: Was this all filmed in and around Dutch John? Entirely in Utah?

Ryan: Yes, It’s very difficult for me to ride in a vehicle. Everything I filmed I started hiking or rowing within an hour car ride from my home.

Image Courtesy: Ryan Kelly
Flylords: Do you have a favorite Hatch to film? A favorite fish or trout species? 

Ryan: Probably Caddis or Yellow Sallies. They both hatch in the sunshine around here and I like the sunshine. My favorite fish is Golden Dorado. I used to live in Argentina and spent a lot of time down there. If there is one fish I think about it’s that fish. I hope someday I will be able to travel again and catch a ferocious pogo stick.

Image Courtesy: Ryan Kelly
Flylords: Ryan you had briefly mentioned that you had a friend push you to create the film? How did that conversation come up?

Ryan: I was on my way to a doctor’s appointment or MRI, I don’t remember, and the IF4 was showing in Provo, Utah. Two incredible filmmaker friends, Gilbert Rowley and Phil Tuttle, had films in the tour and I thought I would pop in to try and be a supportive friend. Afterwards I wanted to compliment them on their amazing work. During the conversation they asked me when I was going to make a film. I hadn’t considered it much, but it gave me an idea. I had been looking for a way to promote fly fishing in Flaming Gorge that wasn’t on the Green River on behalf of local businesses. I floated the idea past the Flaming Gorge Chamber and Utah Tourism. I never thought they would say yes, and was a bit shocked when it happened. I had a lot of incredible footage, but had no idea what kind of story to add to the footage. In the process, we decided to touch on the fact that I couldn’t travel more than an hour from home and that would be the story. Last summer Paul Nicoletti from F3T reached out to me and asked if I had ever considered making a film. I told him I had already made one, but I wasn’t thrilled about it. I finally acquiesced and told Paul to give me a week and I would send something over. I had acquired a lot more footage and interjected it into the film. Paul asked how I got so much amazing footage. I explained that I had a disease that requires me to move constantly. I toted along a camera everyday as I hiked around my home journaling the cool things I saw. He said that was the story and asked if I would dive deeper. I was super apprehensive about it and still wonder if I did the right thing today. I definitely blame Paul, Gilbert and Phil for roping me into this.

Image Courtesy: Ryan Kelly
Flylords: Is there a particular shot in the film that is your absolute favorite compared to the rest? 

Ryan: Probably the sequence where the Brown Trout are eating Blue Wings 10 and 20 at a time. I remember sitting on my couch looking out the window trying to convince myself to go walk the river because all the Blue Wings would be smashed up against the trailside given the wind direction. I had been obsessing about getting some shots like that for a few weeks.

Image Courtesy: Ryan Kelly
Flylords:These visuals are breathtaking, what equipment are you filming and capturing these moments with? 

Ryan: Old and outdated. I use a Lumix GH4, used Phantom 4 and a GoPro. I have a few used lenses of varying lengths.

Image Courtesy: Ryan Kelly
Flylords: Is there anyone you want to thank for helping you with this film and bring this story to life? 

Ryan: I think without Paul’s persistence and Keiko Ozaki helping me tell my own story, I doubt this would have ever come to fruition. The local businesses in Flaming Gorge and the local government that supported the project. My wife and kids have been nothing short of miraculous. All the friends and anglers who were so patient with me and allowed me to film them. Of course, Gilbert Rowley and Phil Tuttle for their positivity and support. Local guides like Nick Jackson, Ryan Dangerfield, Randy Browning and Dano Bolton, Cody Schwark. Jake Bleggi and Spencer Durrant for being there during some rough times.

Image Courtesy: Ryan Kelly

Extra Question: 

Flylords: If you were on a deserted Island what would be your Snack of Choice, Fly of Choice, and Camera of choice? 

Ryan: Bananas, if I didn’t know the predominant species, probably a Clouser Minnow, and a drone to retrieve my bananas.

If you aren’t already, make sure to keep up on Ryan’s adventures here: @greenriverflyfisher. Also, follow along with the film tour @flyfishingfilmtour to see where they will be next!


2021 F3T Behind the Lens: A Journey Upstream

2020 F3T Behind the Lens: Expectations

GoPro Presents: “This Place Sucks” – A Fly Fishing Adventure Down the Green


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