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After more than eighty trips around the sun, Ellis Hatch continues to fill orders daily for lodge owners, guides, friends, and fly fishers all over the world. I have been lucky enough to accompany a friend of mine, Art, to visit Ellis in his Rochester, NH home. This year he produced 6000 flies from this Rochester basement bench, a fraction of the over 15,000 in years past. To sit with Ellis is more a lesson in relationships than the art of thread, bobbin, and feather. The concrete block walls that surround his vice are plastered with Ellis and…not fish, rather people. And any space that is not occupied by people enjoying the business of learning and laughing together, is proudly utilized for the most effective inspirational materials…the paintings and messages of his grandchildren and great grandchildren. If you are there to learn how to tie flies (which I am not), I would imagine Ellis’ instruction might feel like you have been engulfed in the pages of a book, a hopeful book that you want to be closed right up into and finish out the rest of your days in between the pages. For every material Ellis touches, there is a chain of custody- that for Ellis to tell, reveals a friendship, a loyalty, a loss, or laughter. I came to Ellis with little interest in slaving away at the bench, assuming that the activity was one of precision and detail. And for a master fly tier like Ellis, it certainly has become that. Yet after sitting with Ellis I imagine that the pursuit of perfection was not what brought him to the bench, nor what makes him so good at what he does. Rather, it was a love of learning which naturally evolved into a love of teaching…which results in expertise. What makes Ellis unique is that he seems to place equal importance on the memories of the people he has shared experiences with as the fly patterns themselves. A kind man with a talent is a wonderful thing.