David Blair - Owner

David has fished almost since he could walk. He’s spent many hours on the banks of the Bow and has been fortunate enough to travel overseas where he’s fished for New Zealand’s elusive browns, Africa’s predatory tiger fish, Cook Islands LARGE bonefish, and whatever felt like eating along western Australia’s and Baja’s coasts. Dave’s Permit affliction has taken him from Cuba, to Key West, Belize, and the Yucatan. But he still loves casting dries to Bow River rainbows and browns.

During his college and university days David lived in Lethbridge, Alberta and Missoula, Montana. Both areas are veritable fly fishing havens. He spent four summers guiding fly fishing for pike, lake trout, grayling and walleye in Canada’s North. Those summers cemented Dave’s love affair with “toothy critters.” He still loves chasing pike and barracuda with his fly rod.

He has a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife biology. Customers may wonder how a trained biologist came to be a fly shop owner and although there’s no single answer to that question everyone can rest-assured Dave loves what he’s doing. One of Dave’s greatest joys is being able to share his knowledge with customers.

More about David….

How long have you been fishing? Since I was three years old.

How long have you been fly fishing? Since I was six years old (About 40 years and that’s all I’ll say!)

How did you get started in fly fishing? My uncle Gordon took me under his wing and taught me what he knew. The story of “A River Runs Through It ” has deep meaning for me as my uncle was a minister with the United Church of Canada but his “other religion” was no question fly fishing. He fed my young mind books by Roderick Haig-Brown and I ate them up. He and my aunt ended up living in Hazelton, British Columbia and I spent many weeks over many summers fishing during summer holidays. As I got older, and was able to get dropped off at or finally drive myself, I fished the Bow River and its tributaries. I also started fly fishing for northern pike at a young age and that really opened my eyes to the excitement that “other” species offer.

Favorite species?

Freshwater 

  • Brown Trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Northern Pike

Saltwater

  • Permit
  • Bonefish
  • The ones I haven’t caught yet

Favorite water?

  • River – The Bow. We are very, very lucky to have this incredible trout river in our back yard.
  • Lake – The clear Canadian Shield lakes of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and NWT where you can sight fish for Northern Pike.
  • Saltwater - Cuba. – I’ve been extremely lucky to fish water where literally no fly has ever been cast. It is a truly rewarding experience.

Favorite technique?

  • Dry fly fishing for trout
  • Hunting the shallow water flats of tropical places (especially while wading.)

Favorite flies?

Freshwater:

  • Skid Bitch
  • Blue Winged Olive/CDC Elk Caddis
  • 5” long Pike Bunny

Saltwater:

  • The fly that I caught my last permit on (this means it does change!!)
  • Corona Toad (Sea Food Buffet Fly)
  • Clouser Minnow

Favorite fishing book or DVD

  • Several Haig-Brown books
  • The Drake Magazine (it’s the one I look forward to reading the most)
  • Black Tailed Devils & Itu’s Bones

Favorite Vise (as in the tool) Renzetti 4000 Saltwater

Favorite pattern to tie? The one that I think is going to catch “that” fish the next time I use it.

Prefer to fish alone or with friends? With friends or my family. I’d much rather share my experiences with someone than the quiet contemplation that others crave. I particularly enjoy watching the fun and excitement of fishing with my kids. Their pure enjoyment of fishing and just having fun is what it’s all about.

Two things you wouldn’t go fishing without (aside from rod, reel, line, flies) Polarized Sunglasses and Ball Cap

Interesting anecdote (ie. Embarrassing moment with a fly rod, interesting story about something you caught, etc.)My first day of guiding in the North…..

I was the “new guy” on the lake. The lodge was all of 200 meters from the NWT border in the far northern area of Saskatchewan.  I was a keen fly fisher in my early 20’s who had been hired to guide and promote fly fishing for pike at the lodge. I had been given a tour of the lake for about 3 or 4 days prior to the first clients. I’d spent many years navigating/fishing on other northern lakes so I wasn’t concerned about getting lost or anything but still! I primarily worried about whacking a hidden rock pile in the almost endless channels, islands, and bays.

It was the second week of June and the ice had been off the lake for maybe 5 days which is ideal for great sight fishing opportunities. The clients arrived and got settled. After lunch the clients brought all their gear down to the boats. I, of course, got the rookie fly fisherman as I was the “expert” on fly fishing for pike.

The clients are excited about catching their first pike on a fly rod and I’m excited and nervous to “prove” my guiding skills to the veteran guides who were scoffing at the fly rod. They didn’t think I had a chance!!

We head out to the NE area of the lake (big lake 40 x 40 miles) and get started. We have some fun catching some decent pike but nothing too huge. When the one guest started with his fly rod I could tell he was a “newbie” to fly casting. He tended to get his whole body into the cast and really got the boat rocking. I showed him a bit about casting but new casting habits die hard. Anyways, the clients were super happy as they’d never caught 30 or so fish on a single day and especially not of the decent average size these pike were. Now it’s getting to be about 2pm and I pull us into a totally sheltered bay. There isn’t a ripple on the water until this fellow starts casting. Then the waves cross the bay. I’m pointing out a decent size pike to cast to which is just outside of the guys casting range. Now he is really rocking the boat trying to get that extra 15 feet. The next thing I know the fellow has rocked so much he’s lost his footing and fallen out of the boat backwards in a half summersault! A new member of the polar bear swim club!

Holy shit what do I do now! Don’t panic just deal with the situation! The 5 or 6 C degree water is a real shock to his system. He manages to stand up and toss his rod into the boat. He has sunk up to his chest in the mud (commonly called “loon shit” in the north) and two feet of water and can’t climb into the boat. I have to motor the boat over to a rock with him holding onto the gunnels so he can climb in. Now I have a soaked client and we are a 50-minute boat ride away from the lodge. Luckily I was somewhat prepared and had extra clothes so he stripped down to his underwear put them on and bundled up for the cold ride home!! No harm done. He was just a touch embarrassed for falling out of the boat. Back at the lodge with a hot toddy in hand he had an “interesting” story for his fellow lodge mates.

I, of course, received the major ribbing for having a client fall out of the boat on the very first day. The veteran guides’ view of this rank rooky is cemented. They don’t think I’ll last more than a few weeks. However, by the end of the week these clients had the largest pike of the whole group and couldn’t stop talking about sight fishing with a fly rod for these incredible game fish. As the next few weeks went by and I ended up guiding clients into the largest pike time and again the veteran guides had a whole different take on the game and I ended up converting many of them to the fly rod.

Long-time guides hate to be trumped by the “new guy” but they took to the fly rod like ducks to water and to this day are primarily guiding clients fly fishing. Of course once the pike were out of the shallow water and the sight fishing was basically over they completely kicked my ass.

That’s how a new guide came to truly love the game of hunting pike in the shallows of the North.

Most interesting (remote, distant, crowded, etc.) location you’ve fished.

  • Okavango & Zambezi River – Africa
  • Being the first fly fisher into a few pike lakes in the NWT.
  • Scorpion Atoll, Mexico
  • Agua Boa, Amazon Brazil

Your destination/species wishlist:

  • Golden Dorado in South America
  • Tiger Fish in Africa
  • 50″ Pike

Given the opportunity who would you choose to fish with? Or someone who has inspired you as an angler/tyer/teacher/guide.

  • Lefty Kreh ( I was very lucky to guide Lefty over a couple of years and I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather look up to or want to fish with again.)
  • Chico Fernandez (I’d love to fish with Chico in his home country of Cuba as I’ve now spent so much time there)
  • I would truly love to be there when my wife Nancy hooks her first permit.

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