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King University News :: King Introduces its First Fly Fishing Class; Sign Up Now for Spring 2015

BRISTOL, Tenn. Oct. 24, 2014- Don Hudson, associate professor of Religious Studies and chair of Philosophy and Religion, and Dan Kreiss, assistant professor of Bible and Youth Ministry, introduced the first fly fishing class to King University this fall. They had very minimal expectations when creating the class, but the class filled up immediately and has been a major success since day one.

Don Hudson, who has been fly fishing for 25 years, and Dan Kreiss, who has been fly fishing for 20 years, had the great idea last spring to create King’s first fly fishing class. “We didn’t exactly know what we were doing when we were getting into it,” said Hudson. “We just knew we loved fly fishing and we wanted to teach it to students as well as enjoy it ourselves. We designed the class on the fly; no pun intended.”

The class has two components, one of those being strictly academic, book-related work. The second component is focused on teaching students how to properly cast and imitate the water’s natural habitat, which is the hardest skill to learn. “With fly fishing you are trying to match the natural conditions as closely as possible. It is all about deceiving the fish,” said Hudson. “So you are trying to copy the flies or what they are eating in their environment. It really is a lifetime of learning and it’s a skill one has to develop. If one does not float the fly perfectly and the fly creates a drag it will detour the fish immediately.”

Fly fishing is mostly technique so the first few weeks of class the professors focused on technique and presentation. The students practiced at the campus pond without hooks to learn how to cast in rhythm. Now the class takes regular trips to the river, mostly South Holston River, to practice and catch fish. “Some people practice yoga to produce a state of Zen. Fly fishing can be that too,” said Kriess. “It is very therapeutic. It’s an opportunity to be out in creation and nature, and learn about the sport and the exercise of it.”

The class took a weekend retreat to Rivers Way in Bluff City, Tenn., to concentrate on fly fishing. Individually the students had the opportunity to take a float trip on the South Holston River or the Watauga River with a guide to hit additional fishing spots. “Fishing on the float trip is so much better; you cover a larger area, and you get to fish some of the best spots on the river,” says Hudson. “The best water in this region is tail water, because it creates a fantastic fishery. The water being generated is cold and it keeps the water oxygenated creating a great habitat for trout.”

As the weather gets cooler the class will take their training indoors to study two books, “A River Runs Through It” by Norman Maclean, and “The Earth is Enough” by Harry Middleton. Both books explore the nature of fly fishing and how the practice can bring peace and satisfaction.  The books teach how to get in touch with the earth.  Professors Hudson and Kreiss also plan to have a few guest speakers, including Brian Traynor and King alumnus Jim Casada (’64), to teach entomology and matching the hatch.

Hudson and Kreiss anticipate hosting the class again in spring 2015 and plan to introduce a trip to Montana. So, if fly fishing or being outdoors interests you, then you may want to keep your eyes peeled for this truly one of a kind class this spring.

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