By Alicia Dziak

This weekend is a state-wide Free Fishing Weekend, a perfect time to take to the great outdoors and develop your love of this sport. But what if you need for just the right gear to get out there? Did you know there’s an online store stocked with all the best supplies headquartered right here in Springville? Jon Hamann, owner of Troutlegend.com, started his business eight years ago as a way to connect fly fishing enthusiasts.

“I launched Trout Legend in February of 2009, purely as a free online resource to bring the passion of fly fishing and in depth knowledge from experts across the country to anyone with a web browser,” explained Hamann. “A few years later, we transitioned into North America’s largest Competitive Fly Fishing League with hundreds of the continent’s top ranked anglers and Teams competing from British Columbia to Georgia. At its pinnacle, the Trout Legend Fly Fishing League was recognized around the world.”

Hamann explained that his love of fly fishing began at age seven when he spent summers with his grandparents in the Catskills.  “An old, famous Wood Duck carver taught me to fish only dry flies (on the surface) behind the supermarket in Margaretville, NY on the fabled East Branch of the Delaware River. We would sit patiently, watching the stream for hours waiting for fish to rise (eat).  I used that knowledge when I came home on many of our local streams like the Cattaraugus and Spring Creek. Before I was 20, I put everything I owned on my back, said goodbye to my family, and got on a train for Alaska where I guided fly fishing trips deep in the wilderness hundreds of miles from the nearest roads with salmon, bald eagles, and brown bears around every bend. Over the years I’ve worked in fly fishing stores and guided many famous waters across the country from California, to Colorado, to New York.”

Hamann, born and raised in WNY, settled down in Springville, hometown of his college sweetheart-turned-wife, where they are raising two children who attend SGI. Here, he took his past experience and turned it into a business.

According to Hamann, today, “Troutlegend.com is an online retailer of classic and modern fly fishing and tying equipment. We have some of the best Hooks and Beads in the world. We also run the Trout Legend Blog and Social Media presence bringing cutting edge information to newcomers and experienced anglers alike.”

Some of the store’s most popular products include the Trout Legend brand Barbless Jig Hooks and Slotted Tungsten Beads.  “We tie truly simple yet cutting edge patterns on these materials that help people catch more fish, and have more fun!” said Hamann. “I ship Trout Legend branded materials out daily to almost every state in the US, and many countries around the world.”

While Hamann said that every year he gets many requests to open a local storefront, for now, they’re solely online.  “This affords me time to spend with my wife, and kids while they are young, and also test new products regularly on the stream… industry code for: ‘go fisn’n!’” Hamann said.

The online store is geared toward anyone who has an interest in fly fishing or fly tying. “I’ve taken a different route than much of the industry and worked hard to bring the highest quality gear down to reasonable prices,” noted Hamann. “Fly fishing and fishing in general connects people to our environment. Get away from the screens and the news and get grounded with something real. For some it’s religion. For others it’s therapy.  Fly Fishing has been more than a passion— it’s a way of life, and I love being able to introduce newcomers to this path or enhance those all ready walking the quiet sport.”

Hamann offers this advice to newbies to the sport: “Find someone to give you a little on stream advice or lessons. And read many of the great free online resources.  We have a series called ‘100 Tips & Tricks’ on the Trout Legend Blog that really helps people.  But more than anything, just enjoy your time on the water whether you are catching lots of fish or none at all.  That’s the real gift of fly fishing— the chance to find peace and serenity in a world that seems out of control at times.”

For more info, visit www.troutlegend.com.