by DC Rose / Sportsmen’s Compass Team Member
Here is Jesse’s story:
I was born in the great state of Pennsylvania. My family and I moved to Nashville, Tennessee when I was a young boy, around the age of six. It was there, I learned to fly fish. My father took me to the Caney Fork River to trout fish, and we saw a gentleman in the water waving what appeared to be wands. The following Christmas, at seven years old, I received my first fly rod. By the age of eight I started tying my own flies. To this day, at 25, I have never purchased a fly from a shop/store for my personal use.
With no mentors to teach me the art of fly fishing, I learned by trial and error, honing my skills and eventually gaining the ability to catch fish. My sophomore year of high school I landed a job at the White River Fly Shop connected to the Nashville Bass Pro Shops. There I met fisherman of all ages and abilities. Eager to learn, I listened intently and expanded my fly fishing knowledge. At this time, I began to sell my flies and take people out on the water to share the sport I love.
After high school, I matriculated to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Following my freshman year, I transferred to the University of Montana located in Missoula, Montana. I had been dreaming about this fishing paradise for years, I was finally here, not knowing a single soul and I loved it. I loved the mountains, the rivers, the fish, the lifestyle, everything about it captured my soul. My junior year the school offered an affiliated competition, competing in the World Varsities Trout Fly Fishing Competition. There were fifteen other schools from around the world. I was lucky to score high in the tryouts, and was off to Cong, Ireland to compete with my partner Tony Tomsu, founder of River Road Foam Creations . It was a fabulous experience, and we finished third, behind the two Irish teams.
For my last semester at the of University of Montana, I embarked on a three-month hike with the Wild Rockies Field Institute. Traveling from Montana to northwest Canada, Insane! Upon graduation, it was time to head back to where it all began, not the Tennessee tail waters I knew so well, but to the more rugged, tightly packed freestone streams of the northeast.
Moving to Pennsylvania I knew it was time to start Filingo Fly Fishing. The company name, taking from my last name, simply connected. It started small, developing simple business cards and handing them out to people everywhere I went, while tying flies for anyone who would hire me. Soon, to start making money, while seriously pursuing my dream job, I needed to become a guide for the state of PA.
Acquiring my Pennsylvania guide license increased my client base. Quickly, I had returning clients, whom I now consider my true friends and things began to grow. I met a wonderful woman named Renee Schlittler, and she helped me with marketing and developing quality brochures for advertising. Renee is my partner and an architect /photography student.
While in Montana I created a fly called the Jemstone Worm based off a similar pattern a good friend of mine, Bill Tegethoff was stewing with. Playing around with some braid, and his wife’s beads Bill had been tampering with worm patterns. I took this back east, playing about until I perfected what I call ‘Jesse’s Jemstone Worms’. They are an absolute killer worm pattern that have proven trout worthy all over the country.
In the winter months, I spend my time calling and sending samples to shops. Currently, we are proud to have Jesse’s Jemstone Worms in two dozen shops in many states. This winter I plan on expanding my sales plan.
With a website being created, business cards and brochures, I was ready to expand my guiding services and became a New York State guide. Much of my business comes from the Delaware River System on the border of NY and PA, so both licenses are required to compliment a client’s individual needs.
I am proud to state that Filingo Fly Fishing has been slowly growing and expanding. This year I began to focus on my writing, reaching out to editors of various magazines. This has proven successful, though not an easy process. Currently, I have an article coming out in Eastern Fly Fishing Magazine, a fly tying segment in Fly Fusion Magazine and a large article soon to be published in Midwest Outdoor Magazine. Renee’s photos will appear in all the magazines articles. She has an amazing eye and catch’s the excitement and magic of fly fishing.
Everything we (Renee and I) have been doing has been centered on growing Filingo Fly Fishing. The hard work and word of mouth have begun to pay off. Honestly, I never thought it was going to be possible to be where I am today, a full-time working fishing guide. I can’t say I’m the wealthiest guide in town, but we are happy and pursuing our passion. Our success has come from hard work and dedication to this sport I love. My entire life, everyone told me that fly fishing would always be a hobby. Everyone. I was much too passionate about fly fishing to accept the naysayers and I’m a true believer in all things being possible.
I am very proud of where I am today and thankful for all the opportunities given to me by everyone who has crossed my path in life. Filingo Fly Fishing is much more than a guide service or business, it’s a statement to the world, all the young kids, adults and everyone in between that dreams are possible. Your dreams are possible, just don’t give up.