© Jeff Kida
Fly TyerLon Ellington
Lon Ellington is a practical kind of guy. In fact, that’s how he got into the fishing-fly-tying business. “I got tired of losing all of these expensive flies,” Ellington says. “So, my younger brother and I started tying our own.” Ellington parlayed his hobby into a paid gig, hand-tying commercial flies for Phoenix-area shops and, eventually, creating custom flies for clients around the globe. In the fly-fishing universe, Ellington is a big deal — a legend, really. The late outdoors writer Bob Hirsch called him “the grandfather of fly-fishing,” and illustrator Larry Toschik drew his flies — they carry monikers such as “Grinch,” “Arizona Peacock Lady” (Ellington’s most popular fly, invented in 1974) and “Lees Ferry Scud” — for the book Outdoors in Arizona. But if you walk into Phoenix Fishing Supply, where Ellington makes his popular flies, you’d likely never know he’s someone. “You don’t have to look like you stepped out of an Orvis catalog, you know, with all that gear,” he says. “I’ve been fishing for 70 years, and I’ve never dressed that way. You can’t go walking through the middle of the stream like you’re killing snakes. You have to stay in the shadows and keep a low profile when you’re sneaking up on trout.” — Kathy Ritchie
Phoenix Fishing Supply is located at 4810 N. 16th Street in Phoenix. For more information, call 602-266-2624.