Bryson City’s native son returned this weekend for a special honor. On Saturday Jim Casada and three other fly fishing notables gathered at North Carolina’s Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians to be inducted into its inaugural class of Hall of Famers.
Casada received the Communications nomination for his many written works promoting fly fishing as a whole and the Great Smoky Mountain region in particular. His good friend Anthony Hipp nominated him for the prestigious honor, taking the podium to deliver as heartfelt an introduction as there ever was.
Of the many praises Hipp heaped upon Casada, probably the most impressive was the account of Jim’s storytelling ability. Hipp told of an instance when Jim was talking of fly fishing in the Smokies as a young boy. Two listeners, one a mere youth and the other an elderly man, were both eagerly following the yarn, each with that star-struck look on their faces of people thinking—one imagining himself on such an adventure, the other remembering the countless times he had stood in the stream himself.
That, Hipp said, was Casada’s gift: he could make everyone feel as if they were right there fishing with him. Readers of Sporting Classics can attest to that fact.
Casada has not only written articles over the years educating people on the Appalachian Mountains and their fishing secrets, he has also written a special book on the subject. The 448-page Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park features photos and maps of every major stream in the park, with insights that only a man who has been there and done that can provide. It was the talk of the day, with many people praising its value to the region and the sport.
In his typically humble fashion, Jim spent more time thanking others than accepting the honor for himself. Friends and family, the military and museum personnel—everyone received praise during his speech.
Of special note was a hearkening back to fellow North Carolinian Robert Ruark’s Old Man and the Boy. He thanked his “honorary uncles” (and an aunt) who helped raise him, in addition to his biological parents and grandparents.
Female fly angler Wanda Taylor was inducted as the inaugural Recreation entry, with Walt’s Popper creator Walter Cary joining them as the Crafts inductee. Phil Bracewell Sr., who passed away in 2011, was inducted posthumously for the Conservation category.
Following the induction, the attendees were granted a special grand-opening tour of the museum, which has recently moved to its new location in Downtown Bryson City across from the Swain County Heritage Museum. The facility brings together generations of fly fishing tackle, from rods to reels to flies to drift boats. There’s even a fully decorated and stocked fly-tying workspace.
The museum will not only teach visitors about the past, but also instruct them how to fly fish in the future. Fly-tying events are already scheduled to be held at the museum, with some 80 local anglers coming together to help run tying demonstrations for kids to learn from.
In addition, fundraising is underway for “Phase II,” an additional building that will house aquariums containing numerous fly angling species.
Sporting Classics congratulates Jim Casada on his induction and the museum for its wise selection. Visit the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians soon and see his Hall of Fame plaque for yourself.