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Kristina Doughtery Guide. Sculptor. Innovator.

Kristina Dougherty is an artist.  Seriously.  I don’t mean that as some metaphor about her fly fishing.  Kristina has a degree in Studio Art in Sculpture from Colorado College and is a Certified Solidworks Professional. She’s also a fly fishing guide, a member of the Angler’s Covey sales team, and an entrepreneur.

Although she can’t put a precise date on when she got started fly fishing, Kristina says there are some photos of her sporting some heavy neoprene waders when she was a senior in high school.  Her dad encouraged her to take up fly fishing, sort of a dad-daughter thing. To get started, she took some classes, and then they would head up to Elevenmile Canyon where she would teach her dad some of the techniques and tips she learned.

The trips to the Canyon weren’t always easy.  When Kristina was 7 year old, she contracted Lyme’s Disease. “It hit my nervous system pretty hard.”  At times growing up, she was restricted to a wheelchair.  She had pain from her waist down, cycles of pain that required pain meds.  At one point, she had an implant that would regulate the meds.  After about twenty years, the disease took a turn for the better.  Doctors were surprised.  “It was definitely a God thing,” Kristina says.

She also says “You can’t let it define you.”

She had to extend her time a bit at Colorado College to graduate.  And about the time that the Lyme’s Disease eased up, she lost her older brother.

“Fly fishing is so healing.  It’s always been sort of therapeutic for me,” she says, “getting into the mountains.  Fly fishing forces you to be right there, focused.”

In the summer of 2015, Kristina began volunteering with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.  Kristina loves teaching and helping people, “it’s pretty much my personality,” and volunteering with PHWFF tapped right into that.  She’s taught fly tying classes and co-led or led the multi-day trips like the Gore Range trip this past summer.

Some of the veterans were a little curious, initially, about her involvement.  They’d ask Kristina why she would want to volunteer here, do this work.  Once she told them her story about the Lyme’s Disease, and the loss of her brother, and the healing power of fly fishing, she formed bonds with the veterans.  “I can relate to them on different levels,” she says.

Her experience with Project Healing Waters was one step on her road to become a guide.  The other step was when she attended the Fly Fishing Show last January.  “When I was at the Fly Fishing Show in Denver, I was looking around and thought ‘we need more women guides!’” In May of 2016, she took the Colorado Fly Fishing Guide Academy offered through Angler’s Covey. “I already had the obsession, the fly fishing addiction” and becoming a guide was the logical next step.

Sometimes, Kristina says, women are a little hesitant to take the step to become a guide.  “It might be a fear of looking incompetent.  Or sometimes just busting through the stereotype.”

She encourages women who want to start fly fishing, but just haven’t taken the step, to just do it.  “What’s the drawback?  It offers so much – the interaction, the social aspects, and there are so many options – rivers, small streams, and you get a break from reality.”

Over the last couple of years, Kristina has taken on some new challenges to hone her game.  “I’ve started to get after bigger fish.”

To do that, she has been building her Euro-nymphing styles in more technically demanding waters like Cheesman Canyon.  “Your sensitivity is dialed up with the longer rod and finer tippet.”

She doesn’t go in half-way with any new challenge. Kristina volunteered at the Fly Fishing World Championships at Vail this past September.  “That was a blast.  Meeting the national team.  Meeting all the competitors, actually.”  She began following the Tactical Fly Fisher blog to keep up on Euro-nymphing techniques.

And, of course, this sculptor began tying her own flies.  “I’ll sit down at the vise and start out in full production mode.  But that lasts only about three flies. Then I am in creative mode.”

What exactly is that?

“I’ll think, ‘I can do this to the fly or I can do that’ and start to make my own creations.”  After a couple hours at the vise, she may not have a whole lot of flies, but she has some new patterns.

She’s an artist, remember?  She innovates. She has used the green netting that avocados are packaged in to add a little flash to her flies. The gold packaging on potato bags get trimmed up and make their way to her tying table.  The guys in the shop give her a hard time.  “I’ve guided with my flies, caught fish with them,” she says, smiling.

What’s next for Kristina?  “I want to design some fly fishing related products.”  She is designing a line of fly fishing t-shirts and wants to create a rod carrier for a car.

And she will continue to guide.  “I want my clients to be open to the experience.  They should want to learn – not just be focused on getting fish. I encourage them to enjoy the experience.  Look up and take it in.”

Fly fishing guide. Sculptor. Teacher. Innovator.

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