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Skylar Hamann: New ASI Team member
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author:
Skylar Hamann

ASI Team
USA


When Robert Selfors first contacted me about joining the Arctic Silver team I was living on a fixer-upper 24’ sailboat in the Florida keys attempting to learn how to Saltwater fly fish on a skiff that was held together by duct tape and prayers. I was without a guide or experience and clueless, but determined to spend the time to decipher tides and moon phases, find productive flats, and dodge dangerous crab patterns. I was wary of joining a “pro team” before I talked to Robert. I wasn’t a fan of being used as a marketing tool for a company, but after hearing the story of what brought Arctic Silver to life I was excited to share Robert’s vision with the states- and the world.


Robert said that Arctic Silver was doing something “different and innovative,”  and I was instantly drawn to the Free Flex Concept. I have always done things a little “differently.” Unlike most successful anglers I didn't start fly fishing at a young age or live in a place that had a prominent fly fishing reputation. I began discovering the difficulties and rewards of fly fishing at 21, while serving breakfast at a restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona. I had a regular patron who returned from a trip in Wyoming and told me about his fly fishing adventure while I served breakfast. I listened with eagerness and then said “I always wanted to learn how to fly fish,” and he calmly replied, “why don’t you?”


People often ask if my father fly fished, and to my knowledge he didn’t, but my grandma says that he did occasionally. He was an extremely powerful influence on my connection with the outdoors and nature. My sister and I would follow him around the woods of Michigan picking mushrooms and sleeping under the stars whenever we were with him, and every since I was a child I preferred that over the “city life” I lived the rest of the time. He taught me to have empathy for this green earth and the creatures we share it with. And to enjoy the quiet of the woods, because you are never alone in them.    
    

Even though we never fly fished together, I think that it is something that he would not only enjoy- but love. I feel closer to him when I’m on a river. When he passed away almost 4 years ago I began thinking about that “why don’t you?” question. I decided to follow not only my dream of living a life a little more wild, but probably my father’s too.


I dedicated my life towards discovering not only what fly fishing is, but what it means to me. I hand-built a 5’X8’ teardrop trailer with the hope that it would allow me to discover multiple rivers and anglers to help me understand more about fly fishing. At the last moment my truck had a major mechanical failure and I relied on a GoFundMe Page to get me back on the road. Through this process I understood the capacity of the support within the angling community. While communicating with Robert I was told that Arctic Silver was born under a CrowdFunding Campaign and I learned that the company was born upon the same assistance and passion as my own.


I spent 2 years living in my tiny camper without a hot shower or an address, but my days were spent fishing on some of the most beautiful waterways from Washington to Florida and everything in between. I learned that following my dream isn’t what it looks like on my Instagram account. Behind the pictures of majestic mountains and memorable catches, are the photos of me washing my hair in a pot on the camp stove or the peanut butter sandwich (too cheap for jelly) that I ate every day. I don’t miss going to the movies or having running water,  and I haven’t even owned a cell phone for years, but all of that is worth it to me.


While fly fishing, I think there is this sense of being a part of the world, not the world that humans created, but of Earth – the way it has always been. The fish don’t know me; they don’t have to, and they certainly don’t try. They don’t pass judgment on me…just my flies. They don’t care if I am a man or a woman, if I’m pretty or plain, only the action of my fly. When I am on a river i’m just a tree; warm blood, the wind, or maybe a stonefly. We are on the same plane. We aren’t better than nature, we are part of it. We are in the world, not on it.

Photo: @ozzophotography

I then spent a season fishing Argentina and Chile while camping and exploring some of Patagonia's fabled rivers, which culminated in a guiding opportunity in Coyhaique, Chile. I worked under Luis Antunez, while learning his style of fishing for giant Patagonian brown trout. Once I returned back to the states, I spent a season guiding on some of southwestern Montana’s famous freestone streams.
  

After my season in the Florida Keys saltwater fishing I was drawn back to the solitude and serenity of the mountains and spent the summer guiding in Wyoming and I have just returned back to southwestern Montana. During the winter season I will be in Patagonia as a guide at Salmo Patagonia Lodge.  I am hoping to help get the Arctic Silver rods in the hands of as many anglers as possible so they can feel the difference themselves.