Tying Flies in the Pacific Northwest with Ben Hintz


Location: PNW
Species: Steelhead
Follow Ben on Instagram @benonthevise


Ben Hintz is an avid fly tier and fly fisherman based on Oregon.

Ben’s fly fishing journey began in his teens, chasing trout in the California foothills alongside his dad and brother. “It was a great way for us to bond and it provided my dad the opportunity to share his passion with us.”

“My move to Oregon marked a significant turning point in my angling journey, as it introduced me to the world of swinging flies for anadromous fish,” Ben recalls. “This newfound passion for spey fishing seamlessly transitioned into my fly tying obsession. With being a product designer and a creative, fly tying seemed to come pretty naturally to me. I was immediately drawn to swing style flies because of their diversity and dynamic motion. When fished right, they can look dream-like in the water.”

Ben dedicates most of his free time to the vise, exploring new concepts and sharing them with the fly fishing community. “I have met some awesome people through this outlet that have helped inspire me to grow as a fly tier. Though I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go, I’m very excited to see where this obsession takes me next."

Why do you enjoy fly tying?
For me, fly tying is a creative outlet that blends both art and practicality. As someone who enjoys tinkering and being artful, I find fly tying to be the perfect escape. I love the process of fabricating new concepts and then testing them out in the wild first hand. There is nothing more satisfying than feeling a grab on a newly designed concept.


How did you get into steelhead flies? Any big inspirations or fly tiers you admire?

I began tying flies right around the same time my brother and I picked up spey rods. It just seemed like the next logical step in the all-consuming steelhead obsession. My very first tying kit was from Ashland Fly Shop — their online content really opened the door for me early on. Over the years, I’ve admired so many amazing tiers and advocates, it’s hard to name them all — but recently I’ve been inspired by the crew at Royal Treatment Fly Shop and the tiers for Aqua Flies.

What is your favorite species to chase and why?
No surprise here, it’s winter steelhead — not only because of their rarity, unique lifecycle and migration, but also because pursuing them leads you to some of the most remote, beautiful locations in the world.

Any advice for new tyers?
One piece of advice that really stuck with me in my early days of tying came from Marty Sheppard. He told me not to throw away the bad ties — instead, pin them up so you can learn from their imperfections. This really helped me grow as a tier because I was able to visualize where I needed to make changes.

Favorite piece of water to fish and why?
It has to be a river. My happy place is knee-deep on the inside bend of a long diamond-chop gravel bar. Living in that moment, anxiously waiting for my swung fly to come tight to a fish.

What are some of the challenges our fisheries face that are important to you?
There are a lot of issues affecting our PNW fisheries and we are seeing the direct fallout within our steelhead and salmon returns. With increasing urbanization/pollution, along with habitat loss, overfishing, climate change and botched hatchery programs — every year, the uphill battle becomes steeper. The chips are stacked against our habitats, but there are many amazing organizations working to change that. Their work is incredibly inspiring and because of them, we are seeing a shift in how people view these fisheries. I hope the next generation of anglers will follow suit in the fight to preserve these beautiful places and these beautiful fish. They are 100% worth fighting for.