As the weather turns warmer and the days become longer, we look for every excuse to get outside. There isn’t a better way to connect with and appreciate nature than spending a day on the river with a fly fishing rod. Our team at WeMake has been itching to learn more about this sport, and we couldn’t have picked a better teacher than Eric Hillerns to lead the way.
You may know Hillerns from his work spearheading design initiatives such as Designspeaks with Ace Hotel, AIGA and The Long Table, and Design Week Portland. Hillerns got his start as a designer, and today works as a brand strategist at Ovo, helping companies find and tell their story by clarifying brand architecture, messaging, operations, and culture. While he’s accomplished in his career field, he’s also a seasoned fisherman. If you’ve ever scoped his instagram, you can tell that he’s been at the sport for some time--about 30 years and counting. In everything, from his passion projects to his client work, Hillerns likes to dive into the heart of the matter. He sees fly fishing as the perfect combination of strategy, design, and craft and says creatives are drawn to fly fishing because of the beautiful environment, expert tools, and the prize of catching a fish.
“The act of tying brings together materials and process, as well as a curiosity about the natural world. It’s intended to sell the idea of food to a fish,” says Hillerns. “As it is with making anything, the process can be amazingly rewarding. Even better, the very moment you’re finished tying, the finished fly is only beginning its function.” Join Hillerns on March 5 for a Fly Fishing Workshop, and he can show you how to truly savor the sport by learning how to cast and carefully select your fly.
“I like flies that are lifelike and exhibit a lot of movement in the water.” Hillerns careful attention to these details has helped him craft flies to catch anything from a 10-pound trout to a 60-pound trevally. A lifetime of fishing has taken him from the coastal rivers of the Pacific Northwest to the saltwater flats of the Yucatan, the Bahamas, and beyond. “Here in Oregon and Washington, we also have some of the greatest rivers and rainforests found anywhere in the world. And in them, steelhead and salmon, sea-run cutthroat, and a host of other critters. That type of fishing is my bread and butter.”
Hillerns believes each person has a unique reason for loving this unique sport. “In some, it feeds that competitive itch. For others, it’s the perfect combination of grace and power. Or, some people just like being in nature with an opportunity to touch something that is otherwise so elusive.” While he has been fishing for the past three decades, he enjoys introducing people to the sport. “I’ve been doing it long enough to feel like every fish is a gift, but honestly, it doesn’t matter if I ever caught another. Now, seeing others catch their first--that’s where it pays off.”
Catch Hillerns’ Fly Fishing Workshop on March 5 from 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. at Tillamook Station, with breakfast and other refreshments provided. Participants can expect a complete overview of casting, a lesson on aquatic insects and fly selection, a tutorial on tying a stand-by fly the Woolly Bugger. From your first cast to your first fly, spending the afternoon with Hillerns is sure to get you hooked. “I think there is a little something to be found for everyone,” says Hillers. “It might spark a love of the game in the same way it did for me. And for that, I am entirely jealous of the incredible experiences that are in front of you.”