Within the last few months, little foam pads have been popping up on signs, benches, and anything else with a solid surface all over the country. What’s more interesting than that is what’s on them… free flies! This week we had the pleasure of chatting with fly fisherman, pilot, and podcaster Larry Littrell to discuss his involvement with the fly fishing sensation that has been sweeping the nation: The Flybrary Project. We asked him a few questions involving the roots of the endeavor, and how a small idea has exploded into a multinational phenomenon.
Flylords: Who is Larry Littrell?
Larry: I’m a raconteur of Appalachian heritage who grew up in East Tennessee before moving to Florida. I’m a dedicated fly angler that spends an inordinate amount of time chasing redfish, traveling extensively to fish for trout (New Mexico to Alaska, and everywhere in-between), as well as throughout the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos chasing bonefish. I have a small place in Oak Hill, FL where I fish, smoke meats, drink beer and host friends. I’m known by many friends to be the finest fly-fishing guide that money cannot buy.
I am also one of the founders of the Flybrary Project.
Flylords: For those who don’t Know, what is the Flybrary Project?
Larry: The Flybrary Project is a grassroots movement to increase interaction among anglers beyond social media. The idea is simple, create a small repository in your local neighborhood where everyone is encouraged to share fly patterns by simply leaving one if you have one to spare, or to take one if you need it or want to use something that was left by another angler. The intent being that you may discover a new pattern or develop a new friendship by being involved in the exchange.
Flylords: What inspired you to start The Flybrary Project?
Larry: Stickers. We were peppering a gas pump with fly fishing related stickers and one day I saw some old foam tape on the pump so I stuck a couple of flies on the foam and posted a story on Instagram that simply said; “free to a good home”. Within a few days, the two flies were taken, but were also replaced (still don’t know by whom). That process continued to repeat itself for a month or two until one afternoon I put a Seadek fly patch on the pump and my buddy Carl Granger and I posted another story, this time with him saying “Have one leave one, need one, take one…”
We talked about it on our next episode of Tailer Trash Fly Fishing (Larry’s Podcast) and referred to it as a Flybrary, likening it to the small free libraries that are seen in front yards in some neighborhoods.
Flylords: What is your mission with the Project?
Larry: All we want out of the Flybrary Project is for it to be a catalyst for people interacting more on a personal level. It’s our hope that it will create a place where people will bump into each other and/or see who is fishing their area and spark new or better relationships on the water. It’s an idea that should create an opportunity for building a stronger community of fly anglers wherever they are established.
Flylords: Where do you see this project eventually going? Think you’ll stick with it?
Larry: Absolutely we’re going to stick with it! It’s already working better than ever imagined. I’ve seen a few Flybrary locations pop up in Pennsylvania where I’m headed in a couple of weeks to go trout fishing. By commenting on the posts, I’ve already heard from a few generous souls who have extended a helping hand with offers to fish or help if I need it. I can see this happening for anyone that takes the time to search through the posts with #flybraryproject in them. It’s not unreasonable to think that if someone is already willing to host a Flybrary, they’re also likely to be willing to share some local insight with another angler.
Flylords: What’s been your favorite part of the experience so far?
Larry: Seeing parents getting their kids involved. From doing DIY projects to create the actual Flybrary to going out to re-stock or check on the Flybrary they established, a lot of kids are getting exposed to the outdoors and the idea of sharing is being reinforced through the effort.
Flylords: If you’re going out on your local water and forgot your fly box (as unlikely as that is), what fly would you hope to see in the Flybrary?
Larry: For me, that’s going to be Mosquito Lagoon, so I’m hoping to see something shrimpy or crab-like. I can tell you that I’ve seen some really tasty bugs being put on the Flybrary locations all around here and I’m fairly certain I’d be successful with any of the patterns I’ve seen!
Flylords: So, how can someone reading this article get their hands on a Flybrary Kit?
Larry: If you want to help encourage others to see the value of giving and sharing by becoming involved in The Flybrary Project, take a few minutes to look through our Instagram to see how others have created their own DIY Flybrary locations for inspiration. If you’re not handy or don’t have the time, you can visit our website by following the link in the bio to request a starter kit.
Founding a Flybrary is more than just putting one up; take time to nurture it and promote it with like-minded anglers in your area and you’ll see it grow and relationships form, one fly at a time!
Also, feel free to follow Larry’s flyfishing adventures via @saltbum.
This article was written by Flylords team member Wills Donaldson.