TFO ambassadors and advisory staffers cover a wide spectrum. Young and old. Amateur and professional. Famous and relatively obscure. Young Braden Miller is in a class by himself. After all, how many junior-high kids represent a major fly-rod company?
Braden recently joined TFO as a junior ambassador. He’s just 13, but talks fishing like a seasoned pro. TFO blog editor Mike Hodge reached out to the young man and his mom, Casey, for a brief interview. Here’s what they had to say while taking a break from a hectic afternoon schedule at their Glen Allen, Va. home.
TFO: How did you get involved with TFO?
BM: “I’ve been going to the Virginia show for the past couple years. I was showing people my flies. I got a booth and then I got asked to tie. Collins Illich stopped by and asked if I wanted to do an interview. I did an interview with Alex. Rick Pope was there talking about BVK rods. I stopped by the Edison Show, and then Lancaster was when I was asked to join the family.”
TFO: When you go to the shows, do you do the same thing that the adult ambassadors and advisory staffers do?
BM: “I go to shows. I go to the TFO booth. I go back and tie a little bit. Then I go back to the TFO booth and promote rods and talk to people.”
TFO: Let’s talk fishing. That’s probably more interesting for you to talk about. … What’s your favorite fish to catch on fly?
BM: “My favorite fish on fly would be the musky.”
TFO: Why so?
BM: “They’re a challenge to catch and they’re super powerful. Once I’ve hooked them, I’ve not be able to move them. They’d make a run and I’d have to let them run. I’d do the same thing, try to move them and let them run, until I could get them up to the boat. It’s like dead weight.”
TFO: And your favorite place to fly fish?
BM: “So far my favorite place to fish would be Alaska. The last time I went to Alaska I wasn’t super into fly fishing. I still had my fly rod there. I was fishing for rainbow trout and dolly varden.”
TFO: Any place locally in Virginia that you’re fond of?
BM: “Probably Atlantic Beach for albacore. That’s exciting.”
TFO: A lot of kids your age might be into basketball, baseball or football. Why invest so much time into fly fishing?
BM: “Early on I had a choice of fly fishing or baseball. Recently I got in car accident and broke my elbow. My shoulder got messed up and all that. Since then, I’ve been enjoying fly fishing. I can’t make any money in baseball. I can make money in fly fishing, with casting, selling flies and all that. Fly fishing, I like it. It’s calming, relaxing. It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun.”
TFO: I understand you got a chance to fish with TFO’s Blane Chocklett. Tell me what that was like.
BM: “That was awesome. I had never done any (musky) fishing like that. It was really cool. He knew exactly where the fish would be holding. The challenge was getting one to eat and hooking one and fighting it right up to the boat. He instructed me exactly how to cast, how to tease the fly. It was amazing.”
TFO: What did you learn from Blane? What’s one thing that you took away from fishing with him, that you maybe didn’t know before?
BM: “Casting. I learned a lot about casting. I was focusing on my casting instead of letting the fly actually go. Too many back casts, then I’d mess up my entire cast. And then letting the fly sink where it needed to be. That one was one of the main things, too.”
TFO: How much have your parents factored into your fly fishing?
BM: “They help with everything. Mom brings me. Dad looks after everyone else, who’s not coming. Sometimes they come to shows when they can. Mom drives me. She’s even willing to tie flies.”
TFO: Casey, what has Braden gotten out of fly fishing? What’s the value of it for him?
CM: “He has always been great in fishing, since he could walk. Fly fishing has been a totally different sport for him. He has learned more patience when it comes to fishing. Between tying his own flies and the fishing, he has really learned patience. Before, he would really be upset if he didn’t catch fish. Now he’s learned that it’s not about going out there and catching fish every time. It’s about being in the outdoors and enjoying himself. He’s really learned a lot from the people who have helped him out.”
TFO: Braden, last question, what is your favorite TFO rod and reel?
“I really like the Axiom II rods, and my favorite reel is the BVK in whatever range. I have I, II and the III. The III with a 7-weight would be my favorite combo. Super light weight. Casts like a dream. Large arbor reel. Picks up line super quick.”
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