SPECIAL NOTE: There’s still time to sign-up for two days of face time with Wanda Taylor at beautiful Deep Creek in northeast Florida. Fly casting instruction, learning the finer points of fly fishing, opportunities to take guided trips, excellent food, camaraderie, your own favorite libation, levity and a good night’s rest. What could be better for your soul?
Fly Life Magazine.com had the pleasure of interviewing one of the fly fishing industry’s brightest bulbs, Wanda Taylor:
FLM: Where did you grow up, go to school, college?
I grew up in Dawnville, Georgia on my family’s 106 year old farm. it’s where Gary, my husband of 34 years, and I reside now.
I went to North Whitfield High in Dalton, Georgia and my collegiate career was spent at Dalton State.
FLM: When did you start fishing?
WT: When I was four or five. Both my grandmothers fished so I thought ALL women fished.
FLM: Who mentored – influenced you with regard to fly fishing?
WT: My husband, Les Kirk owner Choo Choo Fly and Tackle. Joan Wulff in 1989 assisted me with my International Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor (IFFF CCI) quest and Lefty Kreh took me even farther in the early 1990s with that quest. I was ready.
FLM: How long did you practice / study for the International Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor (IFFF CC) test?
WT: All my life.
FLM: What about the actual certification test for International Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Master Casting Instructor?
WT: That was an interesting and nerve-racking experience because of how it went down, let me explain. First, I took the written part, which was smooth sailing – I knew all of that part cold. Second was the field test or fly casting, and as you know, there are many, many techniques as well as styles. The nerve-racking part for me was that during the initial performance phase lightning struck us and then a storm quickly followed. Postponement ensued. Postponement visited us twice more with varying periods of down time. Just enough time in-fact to un-nerve anyone. Each delay fraying my nerves a bit more, but I hung in there and passed without a damning miscue.
International Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor – 1990
International Federation of Fly Fishers Master Certified Casting Instructor – 1996
Orvis endorsed guide 1992
FLM: When did a your avocation become today’s avocation?
WT: I sort-of backed into it becoming a vocation in the 1990s. It has turned out that I love teaching, getting involved with mentoring women, kids, vets and all sorts of wonderfully time consuming projects that have something to do with my aforementioned predilections.
NOTE: A few of the projects Wanda is currently and deeply involved with:
1.Southern Appalachian Museum Cherokee North Carolina, which will be inducting both Gary and I in next year in several categories. 2. The Good Will Guides mentors and ambassadors.
3.Casting For Confidence Georgia co-founder a and supporter along with the Georgia Women Fly Fishers (life member).
4. Ambassador for Casting For Recovery since it was established. Partnering with Star Nolan bringing the first retreat to the South – North Carolina in 2002.
FLM: Family life today?
WT: I have wonderful ongoing 34 year relationship with my husband, Gary. I have one son, Chris. He’s an art director at the Terry College of Business – University of Georgia. My daughter-in-law is an executive with Goodwill of Georgia. I have one granddaughter, Emma Rose who is 11 and at top of her 6th grade class in Athens, Georgia.
FLM: Some celebrity anglers, fly anglers to be specific, that Andrew and I have encountered at fly fishing shows, conclaves, symposiums, local fly fishing clubs, outdoor shows, boat shows and at tying shows demonstrate they believe their endorsements qualify them for entitlements, and in so expressing they unwittingly downgrade themselves while thinking just the opposite; exalted. What’s your take on endorsements – representing a company?
WT: I currently represent: TFO’s Advisory Staff, Ambassador for Chota, Aqua Design, and Mavenfly. I represent any and all companies that manufacture quality products for outdoor women who fish. For example, Patagonia, Simms, Columbia and Orvis. When I speak to women’s fly clubs, fly shows or expos I want women know what’s available to them specifically, and encourage them to support those companies. I think when you take on a product- endorsement, you have a moral obligation to see that the company does what it says it does and to promote, in return, its product or products.
FLM: Everyone that is famous, such as yourself, seems to have “I bet you don’t know” secret, or nobody would guess that I . . . Can you tell us what “Bet you didn’t know” is in your closet?
WT: Sure. While I spend an inordinate amount of time in the water or on it (in a boat), I can’t swim! Also, I’m double Irish – both my Mom and Dad are pure Irish. Another anomaly might be that I sing (high saprano) in both Latin and English at my Dawnville United Methodist Church choir.
FLM: Fly fishers all seem to have engagements with humorous faux pas, author peculiar events, engage in miscues as well as slip and fall prats. Can you think of anything funny or peculiar that visited you?
WT: Yes. A few years ago, Gary and I spent a week on Abaco in the Bahamas. It poured almost the whole time with 25- to 45-MPH winds – spawning two tornadoes that sent vehicles airborne in Marsh Harbor.
Finally, the last day the sun appeared and our guide called and asked us to join him. We were to meet him at the end of the island in the am. We drove there and found a Bahamian man sitting in a flats boat. It wasn’t our guide, but a guide Gary had gone out with 10 years earlier when we worked for FlyLogic and Fly Fish TV. He remembered Gary and said: ”He’s here.” Puzzled, we asked who is here? The Flylogic/Aqua Design owner, Jerry Tullucek, said the guide. Just then, down from a dilapidated hotel walks this six foot four, lanky Idaho cowboy. He was dressed in blue-aqua design camo garb that went form head to foot. He was carrying a black trash bag full of equipment.
We both shoved out our hands and said, hi Jerry. He pulled down his buff and said: “What are you doing here? There was not another soul around for 30 miles,” said Jerry. We’re here to catch a bonefish just like you man, I quickly repiled. We hadn’t seen Jerry in at least 10 years. What a chance meeting. As soon he was to chase bones our guide appeared and we too were off to chase bones.
The long story short of the story is that it was the best day of bonefishing – ever. High numbers and solid fish.
At the end of the day, as we docked, Jerry came running. He wanted a group shot. Jerry volunteered: “No one is going to believe that I ran into the Taylor’s in the middle of nowhere, in this horrific weather unless we have a photo to prove it!”
Jerry asked: “How’d y’all do?” We gushed of our great day. Finally, we ask him how’s you do? “Well,” he said, “I caught one, do you wanna’ see it?” We thought, oh, too bad. He finds the photo on his camera and voila, a 16-pound bone. “Wow,” said Gary and I. Jerry added: “Now do you understand why I wear this stuff? I got within 40-feet of this fish. “We looked at each other and then at the same time exclaimed” “Send us some of that gear.” Collectively, we all laughed – enjoying renewed camaraderie of an old friendship.
It was a week that turned out to be magical. if only for one day and one we’d all never forever forget.
FLM: What’s your favorite gamefish or fishes?
WT: Bonefish in any of the 700 Bahamian Islands would be my favorite. I caught a nice 5-pound bone on Exuma, Bahamas and I look forward to more and bigger. Also, fishing for stripers with best catches so far fishing with Dan Blanton on the Delta.
Wanda and Gary Taylor’s website . . .
PO Box 4747
Dalton, Georgia 30719
United States / Telephone: 706-537-3254
Salt Water Fly Tyers website . . .
Contact Don Reed about Ladies only fly fishing school with Wanda Taylor, call him at 904-535-6929 for information.