Being successful and making a difference in the fly fishing industry is no easy task. Doing so at the age of fourteen is undoubtedly something extra special. Braden Miller of Miller time Flies is a middle school student by day and professional fly tier by night with a future in the industry that we here at Flylords are very excited to see unravel. We recently had some time to catch up with Braden and talk to him about his fly tying adventures thus far.
Flylords: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is Braden miller?
Braden: I am 14 years old, an honor student, and I will be a freshman in high school next fall. On top of a heavy school and homework load, I attend 7 or 8 Fly Fishing Shows a year. If I do not have my own booth at a show, I am tying flies with Norvise and talking fly rods with people in the Temple Fork Outfitters booth. I also tie custom fly orders for people through my website MillerTimeFlies.com.
I am 100% all about fly fishing, fly tying, and depending on the weather or the conditions, I will be fishing with my TFO conventional rod if I need to. I also enjoy hiking with my parents and three brothers (and if there’s water where we are, of course I’ll have my rod with me). I like to stay active, be outdoors and have fun.
Flylords: What first got you into fly tying?
Braden: I actually learned how to cast a fly rod before I learned to tie flies. I was given an older vice with a book of starter flies and I quickly taught myself how to tie all of the flies in the book. From there I started learning from Youtube and Instagram videos. I watched Blane Chockeltt, Brian Wise of Fly Fishing the Ozarks, Gunnar Brammer, and Kelly Galloup.
Flylords: How did Miller Time Flies begin?
Braden: As I started having my own booth at shows and tying more frequently in the Norvise booth, more and more people asked how they could place an order with me, or if I had a website they could order from. I came up with a couple of names and we sent them to some of my family and friends in the fly fishing industry to vote on. Then they sent back some other suggestions. From there, we narrowed the list to four and everyone voted again. Miller Time Flies was the winner by a landslide. My dad came up with it because obviously our last name is Miller and I tie (time) flies.
Flylords: How did you get started working with Norvise?
Braden: I met Mr. Tim and Tyler at the Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival in January 2018. At that show, they asked me to come in the booth and try tying on the Norvise and so I did. While I was there tying Mr. Alex Colonna, a Temple Fork Ambassador, came by and started chatting with me too. During the show I did an Instagram Live with Norvise, a podcast with Rob Snowhite and a video interview for Temple Fork Outfitters where the founder of TFO, Rick Pope, stopped by the booth. The next week, my mom spoke to Tyler who convinced her it would really be beneficial for me to attend a couple of the other Fly Fishing Shows that season. That season my parents and I attended the Edison, NJ Fly Fishing Show, Lefty Kreh’s Tie Fest, and the Lancaster, PA Fly Fishing Show. I purchased my Norvise during the Edison show and Mr. Tim asked me to join the Norvise team.
Flylords: What advice would you give another younger person that wants to get into fly tying?
Braden: I think the best advice I could offer any youth wanting to start tying flies would be to start small and gradually work up to the more difficult and time-consuming flies. I think it’s good for a beginner to tie the same style of flies for a while, perfecting their technique and their finished product before moving onto a new style. Keep trying to tie the different styles of flies before you choose your favorite one, like I did with streamers, and then run with it. You want to learn to master your favorite style, while still being able to tie an array of styles.
I think the most important piece of advice I give any new tier, young or old, is to never be afraid to ask someone a question. You can not learn or progress if you do not know the right answer. From 2011 until 2018 I took my flies around with me to the Virginia show and I showed them to anyone who wanted to see them, from Legend fly tiers Lefty Kreh and Bob Clouser, to professional tiers to local tiers. I went back year after year and received praise on my tying ability, but most importantly I received new tips, tricks, and ideas on how to progress my tying skills. There is not a show I attend today where I do not show some of my flies to Bob Clouser, Blane Chocklett, Pat Cohen, Bob Popovics, or Jason Taylor looking for their opinion on how I did tying one of their patterns or for them to critique a new fly I have designed. Never stop learning new tying skills and seeking advice.
Flylords: How do you balance going to school and running a custom fly company?
Braden: First of all, my mom’s rule is school work before tying flies. There is even a disclaimer on the shop page of my website that says that very thing and also includes that my 6 week time period for me to tie orders could be longer due to my school schedule. I am currently in 8th grade and I am taking five high school credit courses, including my second year of Spanish. I always used extra time during class to work on homework or study. As soon as I get home I finish my work, study for any test or quiz, and work on any projects I have due ( I had 1-2 projects due a week in different classes). Once I get everything completed, I’m able to start tying flies or run down the street to the river and test flies. I had many nights where I would tie flies from 6 pm until 10:30 and then get up at 5:30 so I could study for any test or quiz I had that day.
Next year will be interesting because I am planning on doing online public school because my show/traveling schedule increases each year and I will miss too much if I was attending the high school down the street from me. The same rules will still apply: schoolwork, homework, and grades come before tying flies, fishing, and attending shows.
Flylords: What do you enjoy more, tying, or fishing?
Braden: I would have to say my love for tying and fishing is split 49% to 51%. I love creating brand new flies or revamping a traditional pattern that has worked for many years, but just a little tweaking or a different material to help it work betting in today’s waters. The only thing that may top it, and just by a little, is taking that brand new or revamped fly out and catching fish after fish on it. More of my time may be spent at my tying desk creating flies, but there is no better feeling than seeing all of your time and effort pay off as you watch a fish waking behind your fly and then BAM! That fish inhaled all of your hard work in an instant and then you are holding that fish in your hands quickly before releasing so someone else can catch it one day.
Flylords: Do you have a favorite fly to tie?
Braden: I don’t think my favorite fly to tie ever changes… The pattern I love to tie more than anything is Blane Chocklett’s Game Changers. It does not matter if it is a feather game-changer, a finesse changer, a micro feather game-changer, a mayfly nymph micro changer, or a baitfish emulator changer. I love them all and how creative you can be when tying them.
Flylords: What do you think is the most difficult aspect of running a custom fly business at such a young age?
Braden: I would say finding time for myself and to spend with my family. I have a tiers dream spot to tie flies at, except I am on the third floor and away from family. When I do come down to watch a tv show or play I game I feel a little guilty because there are people waiting on my flies. Before all the craziness of Covid-19, I was still in school, there were many nights I would stay up way too late tying (most of the time I wasn’t even aware of what time it was) or I would wake up really early to study and make sure I was prepared for the day.
Are there any particular fly tiers that you would say really inspired you?
Braden: Just to name a few, because there are many, Blane Chocklett, Bob Popovics, Gunnar Brammer, and Mike Shultz. All of these amazing tiers are always pushing the limits of fly tying with new designs. The many types of Blane has Game Changers designed to have such realistic action, and you can use a multitude of materials to tie them with to get different swim actions, depths and buoyancy. I was amazed and intrigued to learn how to tie Mr. Popovic’s BEAST and Hollow ties with bucktail to imitate bulk, while it does not add mass. Mr. Brammer is always creating and adding to his flies to get the most out of them by adding materials, or changing materials, adding weight, changing the weights positioning and so much more, I could go on and on. He strives for nothing but perfection within his patterns and their actions. Last, but certainly not least, is Mike Shultz. He has created one of the effective smallmouth flies and so many others that just flat out produce fish. I admire Mr. Shultz’s views on his patterns that he has designed for various scenarios that he and many other fish. These four fascinating people and tiers are just a few at the top of my list of phenomenal tiers and great people I admire. I am lucky to receive some of their best tips and tricks when I see them and they look over my files. I aspire to be as successful and inventive in creating new flies as they all have been.
Flylords: What will Braden Miller be doing in the future?
Braden: Future Braden aspires to be like those on the TFO Advisory Staff like Lefty Kreh, Bob Clouser, Jake Jordan, and Blane Chocklett. I strive to help shape the future of fly fishing by contributing in designing new and revamping current TFO fly rods, I want to create new and innovative fly patterns, fly lines that pair perfectly with the new TFO rods and other gear to keep the world of fly fishing moving forward in the future. Of course, I will always continue to encourage the younger generation into fly fishing and tying to ensure this great sport continues for years to come. I plan to have my own boat and get my guide license and captain’s license. My goal is to be an accomplished worldwide fisherman like Mr. Jake Jordan. One can only wish to be able to accomplish what he has throughout his lifetime and also how he has helped many others accomplish their fishing dreams. Every year Mr. Jake travels the world to many different wonderful places around the world, fishing for a multitude of species and helping others catch the fish of their lifetime; many of the catching world records. Also Mr. Jake amazes me as he is still making appearances on the show circuit and giving presentations of his different fishing schools.
We’d like to say a big thank you to Braden Miller and Casey Miller for taking the time to sit down with us and give a glimpse into his ever-creative mind. Make sure to check out his Instagram, Facebook, and website. We would also like to thank Norvise Fly Tying Systems for making this interview possible!
All images courtesy of Miller Time Flies.