If you’re familiar with Loon Live then you know that Matt, the host, is a phenomenal tyer, a great entertainer, and one of the most entertaining personalities in our sport. For you, the article that appeared in This Is Fly affirmed what you already know to be true about Matt. If you don’t know Matt, then a) you’re missing out and b) keep reading.
If your car breaks down in the middle of the night then call Matt Callies; you’ll hear his car start before he asks you where he’s headed, and once he gets there chances are good that he will a) know what the problem is b) have the required tools in his truck to fix it c) notice that you’d get more out of your stereo if you’d let him give you the old amp he has just sitting in his garage and d) convince you that you should join him in heading out to the coast to swing up a salmon or two… after all, the flows are perfect, you’re both awake already, he just tied up a dozen beautifully gaudy bugs and he has a client whose donut shop opens in a few minutes and they make the best maple bars… That is Matt. Don’t try to keep up, just try to contribute where you can and enjoy one of fly fishing’s most creative, generous, and all-around-good dudes.
Matt was born in Southern California, about 600 miles south of the habitat for which he was designed. He began fishing for bass in the water hazards of golf courses and when he moved up the coast in search of Sasquatch and a lifestyle that fit his self-proclaimed “dread-neck” nature, fly fishing for trout captured his imagination. He began tying because “flies are spendy” and moved into his truck because “houses are spendy too”, and real estate only got in the way of chasing fish. The fly fishing industry offered Matt a safe method of re-introduction to civilization. When he decided he was ready he did so first as a contract tyer, then guide, then as a sales rep. Like many accomplished anglers, Matt has a natural ability to think like fish, and has mastered classic techniques with very little coaching, a lot of practice and a ton of intuition. But what sets Matt apart is his ability to completely rethink everything. EVERYTHING. Every technique, every tool, every piece of gear, every component of a fly… everything. It’s not because he is defiant or exercising a need to be original; it’s because his brain (which, remember, is calibrated to think like a fish) never, ever stops. EVER. Ideas flow constantly, and when he articulates them as they come to him you realize that the baseline flow of ideas in Matt’s brain would feel like flood stage for the rest of us. Luckily, the rest of us can rely on Matt to harness the undammed current of ideas, and show us what he came up with.
Guides are a special breed because they fall in love with fish and fishing, and then devoting their lives to sharing that love with their clients. Fishing with Matt is a reminder of how much fun fishing can be, but Matt gets to share his passion for fishing with anglers all over the world in a different capacity. All of the tools in his boat and on his bench are prototypes of future product releases for Loon Outdoors, where he is the Director of Product Development, and most of them were welded, milled, lathed and/or soldered in his garage. Countless fly tying benches around the world house Loon’s UV-curing resins (which he developed), and thousands of tyers have been inspired by Loon Live, a free live streaming tying demo which he hosts bimonthly. When asked about the unbelievably creative flies in his boxes, the common answer is “Oh, I just thought I’d try something a little different.”
But the best part about Matt isn’t his ability to catch fish or come with ideas that will help you and me catch more fish (but we should all hope that he continues to do the latter). The best thing about Matt isn’t that he makes a good, loyal, zany fishing buddy who can come up with hair-brained adventures. The best part about Matt is his ability to remember (and remind you) that it’s about more than catching fish. Yes, the trip is taken under the banner of fishing, but the point is to see his kids mimic his cast and squeal with delight when he guides them into fish. Yes, the goal for the day is to find some anadromous fish, but the point is to clear your head like you can only do when you’re swinging flies and smoking Backwoods Cigars. That is Matt. Book a seat in his boat, meet up with him at a show, or track him down on Loon Live. You might not be able to take it all in, but you’ll be glad that you tried.