Fishermans 5- Tim Arsenault
Arsenault (pictured left drinking large beer) has been a staple in the Vancouver flyshop scene and competitive casting circles for many years. Always the smiling face behind the counter and the commanding presence behind the long rod those lucky enough to know him rarely forget him. Recently he has started Bridge Flyfishing the culmination of a number of years of flyline r&d. He took some time in late June to answer a few Epic questions. Quality pics by Aaron Goodis.
1. The slow pitch. How you get started in the spey game?
It all started on the Chilliwack River. I was moving through a run fishing away when another angler hiked down from the other side of the river holding an unusually long rod fitted with large antique reel and a thick, brightly colored fly line strung through it’s rings. I didn’t think much of it and kept fishing through the run but it wasn’t long until I heard the short bark of a click and pawl reel from down below. As I turned my head to look, I saw the leading edge of his loop crossing the river headed towards the far bank. He continued down the run making strange lifts and sweeps ending with a powerful roll cast that efficiently crossed the river. Each cast was punctuated by a sharp bark from his Hardy as the line would hit the reel. I was mesmerized by the whole scene. I went to Michael and Young Fly Shop and asked the store owner Dave what I had seen the day before and he filled me in on all things Spey. It wasn’t long before I purchased a rod, reel, and line. That was almost 20 years ago and I still love it as much today as I did when I started.
2. You’ve competed in long distance casting and placed consistently among the very top in the world. How’d you get into it? What drew you to it?
I suppose I got into competitive casting through a series of happy accidents that relate to where I have fished and the type of personality I have. I have often joked that the first good Spey cast I made ruined my life. The feeling of the line taking off from the rod tip with good speed and turning over cleanly at distance really got into my head straight off the bat. Also, having a venue like the Thompson River to fish for Steelhead gave me a place to aspire, learn, and later on utilize extreme distance casts on a unique river where such casts can actually provide an advantage and catch fish. Without my time on the Thompson I am not sure I would have made my way to tournament Spey Casting. As you can certify Steve it was truly a one of a kind place that shaped folks as anglers, casters, and probably as people in some ways. Outside of the feeling of the cast and my time spent on the Thompson, I think it was my desire to learn as much as I could about the Spey Cast which that took me down the rabbit hole as far as I have gone. Also… some people have told me I am a competitive person. I have no idea what they are talking about.
3. We worked at Michael and Young Flyshop together for a bit years ago. A lot of the skills you have behind the counter are the same as guiding and my clients often comment about your infectious personality. Ever consider guiding? Be brutally honest. I’m already expecting the thrashing anyways!
Yeah I remember those days Steve! Lots of laughs and good times. Have I considered guiding? At times I have thought about it for sure…never say never! By nature I am a bit of a homebody and don’t like to leave for long periods of time which probably makes me an unlikely candidate. Outside of those things I see how it could be a very fun job. I do enjoy teaching and communicating with people as well as being on the water so maybe it is something that could work better then I think.
4. Recently you opened Bridge Fly Fishing and elevated that starboy status. I consider myself among your fans, but for those who don’t know, what’s bridge all about?
Thanks Steve! Good to know somebody thinks I am a starboy and you can count me among your fans as well hahahaha! The idea for Bridge came about three years ago and is finally just nearing the official product launch. It initially all stemmed from a genuine interest in fly line design, and more specifically Spey Line design that grew during my time in the industry. Also, I wanted to have something that my friends and I could develop, grow within, and produce the products and media that we have always dreamed of making. My good friends Aaron Goodis, Jon MacArthur, James Reid, and Will Bush to mention just a few have been critical parts of the formation of the company and are people I have been blessed to work with. Too many more to write here but so many of my good friends have played a massive role and are part of the Bridge family as well. I also wanted to use Bridge to push the narrative that casting is a huge part of our day on the river and should be as fun as possible. The process of Steelhead fly fishing is such a unique and multifaceted fishing experience, I want to encourage people to enjoy every part of the sport as much as the catching aspect. If folks aren’t having fun and finding value within the other elements of Steelheading such as fly tying, casting, road trips, time in nature etc…they are really missing out on some of the best parts of what makes Steelhead fishing so fun and distinctive from other kinds of fishing. I hope the company can promote the pure fun and enjoyment of the casting side of things with lines that are just plain fun to cast. I don’t think any of us chose fly fishing because they thought it would be easier, or that it would catch more Steelhead than a clump of eggs under a float. So in that spirit I hope the Bridge brand will inspire people to try some new lines that are fun, different, and also help to grow their skill set.
5. What’s the future future for Tim? Sarcastic answers perfectly acceptable. In fact I’m rolling my eyes asking this….
More competing, designing, teaching casting, media creation, and working at the shop would be good…oh yeah maybe some fishing too, there has not been enough of that!
Bonus Question: Who do you think should be on fishermans 5?
Without question I would have to say my friend Travis Johnson. One of my all time favorite people to spend time with and a wealth of knowledge on all things spey casting and fishing.