Troutfest TX Fly Tyer Bios

Troutfest Reels

Troutfest TX 2024 Fly Tying Bios

CHASE SMITH Chase Smith – @fishchaseflies

Chase Smith has been tying flies commercially through his company FishChaseFlies for several years now. He recently became an MontanaFly Co signature tyer and a member of the Renzetti pro staff. Chase is renowned for his Blane Chocklett’s GameChanger and articulated flies.

Chase ties flies for a wide variety of species in both fresh and saltwater, but he especially enjoys tying flies for aggressive, predatory species. Aside from tying hundreds of flies every month, Chase also spends plenty of time on the water tweaking new patterns and sight casting to anything that swims.

His favorite species to target are carp, bass, and redfish and many of the patterns he designs revolve around those species.

MATT BENNETT Matt Bennett – @flygeekmatt

Matt returns to Troutfest and the Texas Hill Country for this one time special event after a recent career change. If you miss seeing Matt around the circuit, this is the time to visit him and catch up.

Matt Bennett is an Umpqua Signature fly tyer and a full-time commercial fly tyer and the owner of Fly Geek Custom Flies. While having a varied interest in many different types of fly fishing, Matt most enjoys both tying flies and fishing for the native bass species of the Texas Hill Country. Matt’s patterns have a broad universal appeal to fish species all over, and he very much enjoys sharing his tying and fishing knowledge with others. Matt has fished the waters of southwestern Colorado since he was a teenager and especially enjoys chasing native Cutthroat trout in creeks throughout the San Juans. Matt is a Renzetti Ambassador and also a member of the Ahrex Hooks and Dr. Slick Tools Pro Team.

STEVE MALDONADO Steve Malldonado – @maldo_goosekilla67

“I’m Steve Maldonado from Evergreen, Colorado. I’m an UMPQUA Signature Fly Designer also Pro team member with Semperfli, Regal, Scientific Anglers Southern Rockies Pro for Colorado, Utah & New Mexico and many more pro teams. I’m a without a doubt a Streamer Junkie to the bone. I have fished across the Globe and when it comes to tying I have always welcomed all comers to share my knowledge and techniques with.”

Steve’s Umpqua Signature fly is the Jungle Junkie. It’s been featured in an article by Landon Mayer in Flyfisherman’s Destinations magazine and also in an article In Loop magazine by Nick Torres from Lamson Waterworks. This fly works wonders for Golden Dorado, Peacock Bass and other jungle predatory fish.


I am originally from England and have been tying flies and fishing for trout, salmon and saltwater fish for 40 years.I was first drawn to the art of tying as a boy when I watched a guy tying at a show in the UK. I watched him for hours until my father pulled me away. As I was leaving the guy said “come here” and he gave me all his half empty packs of materials I was feeling like Christmas morning! I tied my first fly in a pair of needle nosed pliers held in a woodworking vise. I later found out that the guy was the legendary John Veniard who I later became friends with whilst starting up a Fly Dressers Guild club.

Other achievements that I am proud of is in 2003 whilst living in the British Virgin Islands I was asked to tie and present Her Royal highness Princess Anne with a fully dressed salmon fly display, which I presented to her. Being awarded the Gold certificate for the IFFF tying awards is another achievement. Every year I attend The Sowbug tying event in Arkansas. I now live in the quaint historical town of La Grange.


My name is Zack Harris and I’m from San Antonio, Texas. I’ve been fly fishing for about 10 years and tying for about 9 now. They are the only things that I do that completely separate me from reality. Everything can be going wrong, but when I pick up a fly rod or spin those first few wraps of thread, I forget about it all. We have a fantastic fly community in Texas! If anybody is considering joining us, don’t hesitate 🤙


Jim has 40 years of experience as a fly fisherman and tyer. He is the former president of the FFI Texas Council and the Austin Fly Fishers. Jim has fished all over the world but greatly enjoys the his home state waters in the TX Hill Country, especially the Llano River. Jim is a frequent speaker and guest tyer at many club events and fly shops, giving presentations on the Llano River, Colorado River, Florida Exotics, Float Tube Fly Fishing, Hill Country White Bass and his favorite – Fly Fishing for Carp.

Jim’s tying focus is on creating and tying the most effective flies for the Hill Country, both fresh and salt. His creations include the Llano Fox, the Bullet Popper, Jim’s Damsel and the Llanolope. The Llanolope has appeared in multiple magazine articles and books, and is one of the most effective and popular Hill Country Flies.

JOHN WOOD John Wood – @jwoodflyfishing

Growing up in north Texas, John Wood has been fashioning fishing tackle since 1969, he used a tree limb, kite string and safety pin to catch enough sunfish to feed a family of 6. It was also the summer he was introduced to fly fishing by an uncle. That beginning led him to travel, live and fly fish across the
country, eventually becoming a writer, photographer, fly tyer and Umpqua Signature Tyer. John has published dozens of articles covering fly fishing destinations, conservation, tyer profiles and fly tying. John designs and ties fish catching flies for a range of freshwater and saltwater species from bluegill to
tarpon. Follow him on Instagram @jwoodflyfishing and

CHRIS SKINNER Chris Skinner – @chrisskinner713

Hi, my name is Chris Skinner, I’m a local guy who grew up learning to fly fish on the Guadalupe River and surrounding waters for trout and warm water species. Since the first time I landed a fish on the fly I just couldn’t get enough and I’ve now been fly fishing for most of my life!

Nothing quite compares to catching a fish on a fly you’ve tied yourself, and I enjoy tying flies almost as much as I love fishing them. From size 28 midges to 6/0 saltwater flies, there’s always something new to learn, and that’s what makes it so much fun!

From Trout to Tarpon, I’m always Game! I’ll catch y’all on the water!

Chris Kowaleski Chris Kowaleski

Chris is a Houston native growing up fishing the ponds, creeks, and ditches around the Woodlands area. Chris is also an avid Bmx rider taking advantage of the very same ditches and the urban landscape with his bike. After moving to San Marcos with his wife and dogs in 2012, a friend introduced him to fly fishing and then gained an interest in fly tying after tying his first fly at Troutfest.

Shortly after Chris became enamored by the aggressive size and flashy nature of musky flies which is evident in his tying style. This influence has been translated into flies tied for fresh and saltwater species found in Texas. Chris is known for his use of bright and vibrant materials paired with professional technique and consistency. Chris supplies orders to some of the premier fly shops around the state and can be found to place orders through his Instagram account @ditch_fishin_flies. “Fly or Die.”

Jon Easdon Jon Easdon – Professional Fly Fishing Guide and Umpqua Feather Merchants signature fly tyer

Jon is a Colorado Native hailing from Leadville, CO. and has spent his entire life outdoors in some form or fashion. He fell in love with fishing at the age of 4 and casted his first fly rod at the age of 12 on our own South Platte River. He has cut his teeth deciphering some of the most technical fisheries in the west and enjoys “geeking out” on fish. Jon found fly tying to be equally as enjoyable and dove headfirst into that. He has designed many effective patterns for picky trout that have become popular with a cult following amongst hardcore anglers all over the world. 2 years ago, Jon had 2 patterns accepted by Umpqua and became one of their signature fly tyers. He enjoys every kind of fly fishing, but has a particular fondness of alpine lakes, technical tailwaters, and stillwater. His passion is contagious, and he enjoys sharing his knowledge in all aspects of fly fishing and fly-tying with anglers of all ability levels.

Atkin Family Atkin Family

Some might call The Atkin Family crazy. Others might say they just don’t understand the pure, unbridled obsession we share for fly fishing. But, as the mother in the said Atkin family, I say we are just a VERY passionate family that loves and values the adventures that await in the outdoors along with the beauty that swims beneath the water’s surface. We are a family of four; Kisha, Chris, James (15) and Wes (12). Each one of us lives and breathes fly fishing and fly tying. Our two young men would rather tie flies and cast their fly rods than play any video game in existence. Chris and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it! We travel the US, coast to coast, chasing fish and enjoying the beautiful outdoors together. Spending time together out on the water is something that we cherish and hold in a very high regard. We are all four members of the Semperfli Pro team, in collaboration with Ahrex hooks, and I (Kisha) am a Signature Fly Tyer and Designer for Umpqua Feather Merchants. We look forward to meeting and visiting with y’all at Troutfest 2024! Come tie some flies with us!

Landon Mayer Landon Mayer

Tying demo: Guide Flies: Mayer’s new Easy to Tie Patterns for Tough Trout Trout.

Wether, you need simple, easy-to-tie patterns that get the job done, day in and day out. In this fly-tying class, Mayer shares 7 of his top patterns for trophy trout that have been proven on rivers and still waters in the Rockies but work well across the country. These flies include Mayer’s designs and some of his favorite flies by other accomplished tiers that weren’t covered in books before. Instructions for each fly are covered in step-by-step lessons, rigging, and fishing tips from Landon. Patterns in include the Sink it Spinner, Mayer’s Mini Leech, Titan Tube Midge, Mini Leech Jig Damsel, Tube Midge, Chubby Damsel, and Landon’s Larva.”

Jackson Dean Jackson Dean

Jackson Dean is the owner of Flyest Shop Around, as well as a pro with Temple Fork Outfitters. He learned to tie trout flies while on vacation with his uncle, Jeff Dean, who runs Mountainbound Fly Guides out of Boone, North Carolina. Once he got back to Texas and began tying for his local fish, largemouth bass. He started coming up with his own fly patterns, each tied to fit specific fishing needs. All his flies are tied with a specific purpose in mind and have been repeatedly tested to attain creative perfection. He sells flies online on and will also be selling at Troutfest 2024.

A big thank you to our sponsors and partners who helped make Troutfest TX possible.

Platinum Sponsors
Gold Sponsors
Silver Sponsors
Bronze Sponsors


Protecting, reconnecting, restoring and sustaining our cold water fisheries. It’s what we are here to do.


Our lease access program allows members access to fish the Guadalupe River at 14 private locations.


Engaging our young people in river ecology, conservation and fly fishing with an expert hosted parent/child weekend on the river.

Lease Access Program (LAP)
NEW SEASON 2024-2025
Sign Up Process begins!
Deadline is July 31st!