Artist lured by brightly colored fishing ties

Familiar Faces
By: Menka Belgal Telegraph Correspondent
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Karen Caswell’s love for nature combined with a background in needlework, as well as being married to a man who restores fishing creel baskets and bamboo fishing rods, has lead her to crafting brilliantly colored hand-tied flies. From the design to the completed framed Atlantic Salmon Fly pattern, it takes her about 4 hours. She will be exhibiting her creations June 16-19 at the El Dorado County Fair in Placerville. In past fairs, she’s won first and second places. How did you get started in tying fishing flies? I started taking fly-tying classes at Off the Hook Fly Shop in the fall of 2008. It only took one class and I was hooked. Each class I took had a different teacher who taught different techniques in tying fishing flies. January 2009, I was looking for patterns on the Internet and ran across Atlantic Salmon flies. These are very colorful and use different materials than the buggy flies. I started creating my own patterns and framing them. By June 2009, I was a member of the Placerville Gold Country Art Gallery and it’s been creative fun ever since. What do you love most about what you do? Tying flies is a wonderful hobby. It is very relaxing. I can tie large artful salmon flies or switch to the small fishing flies. It is also very portable. All I need is my vise and a few materials and I can keep busy all day. Where do you sell your flies? I sell my framed Atlantic Salmon flies at the Gold Country Art Gallery in Placerville, on the Internet and fly fishing events. Where do you get your supplies? Most of my feathers come from the Internet. There are many suppliers who raise birds and sell the molted feathers. These are my preferred suppliers. What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you? The world of fly fishing and fly tying is full of interesting and diverse people. I continue to be amazed by the people I meet: a radio announcer, a man who owns a zoo, a forester and a vintner. These people are the most interesting thing that happens to me. They are such a wonderful cross-section of the world we live in. What are your favorite places to travel? My husband and I love driving trips. We like to mosey along and stop any place that looks interesting. A couple of years ago, we were driving south on Highway 395 and saw a sign, Manzanar. We drove in and got quite an education about the WWII Japanese internment camp. It is all about the journey, not so much about the destination. What hobbies do you enjoy? If I am not tying flies, you will probably find me working in the yard or baking in the kitchen. Tell me about your family. My husband, Jack, and I moved to El Dorado Hills in 2007 and love the proximity to the Sierra, northern California coast and southern desert. Jack works for an environmental and engineering company. My daughter, Jennifer, is a professional photographer on Maui. What causes are you passionate about? I believe we all need to do our part to preserve our environment. I was raised on a ranch which had a walnut orchard on it, and lived on my own for 20 years. This gave me a great appreciation for the land and water we use. When I am around a waterway, whether it is a stream or lake, I keep a garbage bag handy to pick up litter. I also donate to the American River Conservancy.