In this installment of our featured fly tyers, we had the chance to chat tight lines, trophy trout, and cutthroat competitions with the one and only; Lance Egan.
Lance Egan is a name any angler and fly tyer should know. From competing for Team USA in the World Fly Fishing Championships to being one of the biggest influences in European Nymphing in the United States, Lance’s resume speaks for itself. Based out of Utah, Lance has managed to balance his passion for the sport with his loving family. We sat down with Lance to talk about fly tying, Euro Nymphing, and what he has going on behind the scenes.
Flylords: Who is Lance Egan?
Lance: I am a husband, father, and ardent angler. I am blessed to have a lovely, supportive wife (who also likes to fish and be outdoors). I love to spend time with my two children, and am always looking for new water and new ways to learn about fly fishing.
Flylords: How did you get introduced to European nymphing?
Lance: I was introduced to Euro nymphing through Fly Fishing Team USA in 2003. Specifically, Jay Buchner, Jack Dennis, Ed Opler, Pete Erickson, and Vladi Trzebunia were the first to tell me about it. As I learned about the rules of the World Fly Fishing Championships I realized I would need to become a much better angler to be successful in competitions. Since Trout and Grayling do most of their feeding near the river bottom, nymphing became one of my focus points.
Flylords: What are the advantages of European nymphing over the traditional indicator style?
Lance: Let’s start by stating that there are times and situations where an indicator nymphing rig is the better option. That said, I find the majority of the time Euro nymphing is more effective, especially for a wading angler.
I believe the Euro setup has a few advantages:
First, the rigging allows flies to quickly get to the bottom (where fish feed and live most of the time) while maintaining strike detection.
Second, Euro nymphing eliminates the floating indicator. Since the flow near the river bottom is usually significantly slower than the speed of the flow near the surface, it is a distinct disadvantage to have a floating indicator tethered to your flies. The fast-moving surface current tows your indicator (or dry fly, on a dry/dropper rig) the speed of the surface, which creates drag for the nymph(s). The Euro setup eliminates the floating indicator so your nymphs get a more natural dead drift.
Third, since you are relatively tight to the flies with a Euro system, you get increased strike detection. There isn’t any mending, or added slack to take you out of contact, or delay your hook set. Also, anytime you add weight(s) to the system, you are in contact with the weights. Split shot (sinkers) added to a typical indicator system place you in contact with the weights, not the flies. With a Euro system, the weights are your flies so strike detection is as good as it can get.
Fourth, the Euro system allows you to effectively nymph more water types. Being able to efficiently cover more fish holding water equals more fish.
There are other advantages, but I believe these are the most important.
Flylords: Where do you get your inspiration for creating new fly patterns?
Lance: New fly patterns are usually born out of necessity. I’m always looking for flies that fish can’t resist. Flies that induce takes. Flies that catch fish. Sometimes I need a dry fly that floats longer, is easier to see, etc… Sometimes I need a nymph with vibrant colors to catch the eye of a fish, or a nymph that descends quickly and is very durable. There are lots of small problems we are constantly working out while finding ways to catch more fish. Flies are one part of the equation.
Flylords: How does having a family change fishing for you?
Lance: Family life is great. It’s awesome to have a wife that understands and supports you. It is also great to see the wonder and excitement in the eyes of my children when they learn new things, experience amazing places, and when they catch a fish. Having a family also brings opportunities for me to grow as a person. Alongside my wife, I am responsible for teaching, mentoring, loving and raising good stewards of our world. This responsibility is one I enjoy. It changes things a bit in that I’m less likely to disappear for multiple day trips, but I still get to spend hundreds of days on the water each year. I also get to share my passion for fishing with my wife and children, and it doesn’t get much better than seeing our kids having fun outdoors!
Flylords: How did you become a member of Team USA for the World Fly Fishing Championships?
Lance: I was invited to try out for Fly Fishing Team USA in 2003. At that time the team was transitioning from an invitation format, to a points system for team selection. We had our first regionals in 2005, and the first National Championship in 2006. Since that time world team selection had been based on a points system. The top 15 point earners make Team USA, and 5 of the 15 anglers represent our country in the World Championships. The system has had several adaptations over the years in an effort to send the best anglers possible, but generally speaking, the selection process has taken the top 3-point earners, and the remaining world team spots are voted on by the 15 person team, the team captain, team manager, and team board members. For many years there was also a guaranteed spot for anglers who finished in the top 25 at the world championships the previous year. The idea behind that rule was that if all 5 anglers finished in the top 25, the team would likely medal. The result is a 6 man team (5 anglers and an alternate) that are to represent the red white and blue.
I’ve finished top 3 in the points a few times, and have also qualified by finishing top 25 at the World Championships several times. As such, I’ve been fortunate to compete in 13 World Championships.
Flylords: Out of all your patterns, do you have a favorite?
Lance: I don’t think I could narrow down one favorite. It depends on time of year, techniques on which I’m currently focusing, etc… Currently I most often fish the Red Dart, Thread Frenchie, Bionic Ant, and Corn Fed Caddis.
Flylords: What separates your film Adaptive Fly Fishing from other fly fishing films? From your own previous ones?
Lance: I think the biggest separator when comparing our videos to other instructional projects is that we have the talent of Gilbert Rowley behind the camera, teamed with the practiced approach Devin Olsen and I have learned while constantly trying to improve our angling. Gilbert is an expert angler, and in addition to knowing his way around a camera, he understands what needs to be captured to help other anglers improve their fishing. Gilbert makes a couple of otherwise “average Joes” look tolerable.
Adaptive Fly Fishing is different from our other videos, Modern Nymphing, and Modern Nymphing Elevated in that Adaptive Fly Fishing covers dry fly, dry dropper, streamer, and various nymphing techniques. Our first two videos are focused only on nymphing techniques.
Flylords: The fans are begging, when will the Fly Fish Food Shop Talk Podcast return?
Lance: Ha ha! All 3 of the fans must be on the edge of their seat waiting for another episode!
Jokes aside, we have had a very busy, challenging summer. As everyone knows, 2020 has been a strange year. We plan to do more podcasts soon. I don’t have concrete dates, but with any luck we’ll be podcasting and broadcasting very soon!
Flylords: After catching your 31 pound laker, do you have any tips for people pursuing big lake trout on the fly?
Lance: Not really. I guess I’d suggest getting ready to be skunked over and over before catching a large laker on a fly. They are not user friendly!
Flylords: You clearly do a lot within the fly fishing industry from fly and product innovation to educational films and videos. What is the thing you’re most proud of?
Lance: I’m fortunate to make a meager living doing what I love. That is what I’m most proud of.
Flylords: The Fly Fish Food YouTube channel is a hub for unique fly tying tutorials and entertaining fishing videos, did you ever see it growing as big as it is now?
Lance: Since I wasn’t a part of the beginnings of the channel I can’t say I’ve ever considered how big it’s grown. I know the channel has a strong following of dedicated anglers, fly tyers, and people of the outdoors. And I know we have fun sharing our flies, techniques, and a few of our fishing outings. Past that, we hope to keep growing the YouTube channel and our fly fishing business so we can keep sharing our passion with likeminded anglers.
Check out one of many of Lance’s videos below:
Big thank you to Lance for making the time to chat with us about all he does. Make sure to follow him at @lanceeganflyfishing on Instagram to check out his projects and life of fly fishing!