Take 5 is a meetup with a local entrepreneur.
While Bob Nowlin has been tying fishing flies for more than 60 years, his fly-tying and bait business has been a second-act endeavor in his life.
After retiring from the U.S. Postal Service as a mail carrier, Nowlin opened Bob’s Flies at his home on the corner of North Ninth Street and East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in 1983. A professionally made wooden sign on the front lawn replaced a hand-painted sign hawking flies, spinners, worms and maggots.
Before starting his business, he tied flies that were sold at local sporting goods stores, but at that time he couldn’t keep up with demand and still handle his day job.
Nowlin, 93, continues to tie flies that are sought after by Yakima anglers who worry about when he plans to retire, he said.
Nowlin sees his job as keeping people off the streets and out on the river, making them happy as well.
How did you learn to tie flies, and how long does it take to tie one?
Back in the 1950s, I watched a friend of mine tie flies several times and decided to start tying them myself. The amount of time varies with the fly, but I don’t go as fast as I used to.
When did you decide to go into business making flies and lures?
I worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 36 years. I was a letter carrier, and I retired in 1980. Then, I had people on my route ask if I would paint their houses, and I painted five houses and started my business after I painted the last one in 1983.
Were there any challenges you faced when you started the business?
Just getting the supplies to start. Fishing hooks were 99 cents per thousand and now they’re $63 per thousand. Fly hooks have a longer shank than bait hooks.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Keeping people able to go fishing. They always ask me when I am going to quit, because they want to buy up a supply of flies.
How often do you get to go fishing?
Whenever I get time. I’m usually busy making flies.