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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Swede’ helping youngsters get hooked on fly fishing

Rich Landers Outdoors editor

Allen Peterson has the humble goal of working one on one to introduce the joy of fly fishing to underprivileged kids from single-parent families.

Since he opened Swede’s Fly Shop on North Ash Street last April, Peterson has offered free fly tying lessons to single-parent kids, one or two at a time. At the end of the lesson, the kid goes home with a vise and the basic tools to create flies and a lifelong passion — all for no charge.

“I just want to give kids a start, especially kids who might not otherwise get the chance,” he said. “I’m blessed to have some suppliers who help me provide the products.”

The instruction is basic, but before it’s over a kid will know how to tie a fly that will catch trout in an area lake or stream, and the “Swede” will have injected a significant dose of fly fishing technique into the process.

The class, which he will continue offering on Saturdays through the winter, is limited to kids ages 10-16 who have the desire and a parent willing to sign a form and get the kid to the class.

“Most of the single parents are women,” he said. “They don’t know anything about fly fishing. They’re too busy trying to stay alive in this economic environment, but they want something good for their family.

“As for the kids, they don’t always say much. Kids that age don’t. But I can see the fascination in their mannerisms. I don’t have to have words of thanks. I see it in their eyes.”

The dozen or so kids who have taken advantage of Swede’s offer have had a noticeable curiosity for tying flies, he said.

“They don’t come in here blind,” he said. “They’ve read about it or heard about it. This is something they really want to do. That’s the way it should be.”

Peterson said liability issues prevent him from taking the kids out fishing, but he tells them when and where to go and sometimes has been able to connect them with members of area clubs for a fishing at organized kids day events.

“I don’t pursue them,” he said. “Even after the class, the ball’s in their court. But for certain kids, this will be the start they need.”