Interview with Jamie, Redonthefly
Updated: Oct 22, 2020
Not long ago I had the pleasure of coming across Jamie's fishing page on social media. Her account was filled with massive grins and plenty of pictures featuring gorgeous little beauties with fins. I think what caught my attention the most was that no matter how big or small the fish she held was, her enthusiasm and overwhelmingly ecstatic look of pure happiness shined brighter with each photo. Also known as redonthefly on instagram, this lady angler is no stranger to spending long days by the river and understands what is required when getting into fly fishing. Her fun-loving and spirited personality shines and she is a great inspiration to other young women looking to get into the sport. Luckily she said yes to my proposition of allowing me to interview her for my fly fishing blog!
Meet my girl Red.
"Tell us a bit about yourself?"
My names Jamie Cragwall (aka: Red) and I was born in Nashville, TN, but I grew up in a small town in East Tennessee called Jefferson City. I loved growing up there. Everyone knew each other for the most part, so my brother and I were able to run around town on our bikes, play at the pool all day, look for frogs in the creeks in the evening, catch fireflies at night, watch baseball games at the little league field while eating day old hot dogs. I have very fond memories of my childhood. I highly recommend growing up there. I’ve also lived in Texas, Georgia, New York, and now, Colorado…and I still feel like I’m growing up.
"What do you do for a career?"
I’ve had 2 very different careers. My first career was as a professional dancer. I was very lucky to get to live my dream. I started on my high school dance team, then on the dance team at the University of Tennessee. After college, I moved to Atlanta and began dancing for the Atlanta Hawks, then World Championship Wrestling, and
couple of years later, I moved New York City and danced for a few different agencies there. It was exciting and fast paced, but I knew it wouldn’t last forever, so once I felt like I had done what I set out to do, I moved home to Tennessee. I have always been passionate about health and fitness, and I got a holistic nutrition degree when I lived in NYC, so I ended up stumbling into a job in corporate wellness. Part of that position was managing the company’s benefits, and I found that I liked that part of my job better than the wellness piece. So now I’m in Corporate Benefit Consulting. I work with companies to put their benefit packages in place, and help manage and project the costs, and day to day service issues that come up. It’s also very fast paced, mentally challenging, and I get to solve problems and help people…two things I enjoy very much. I’ve built a career I’m really proud of.
"How long have you been fly fishing? How did you first get into the sport?"
I was first introduced to the sport about 2 and a half years ago. A guy I met on a dating app did me a wonderful kindness by introducing me to his passion. But he did me an even greater kindness when he moved on, and allowed me to pursue this sport on
my own. I knew from the moment I
watched him fish for the first time that
I wanted to learn, and that desire was completely independent from him. I am the type of person who takes the initiative and I research and I educate myself, and I didn’t feel like he wanted me to be part of it on my own. I only fished with him a handful of times, but I desperately wanted to learn and become self-sufficient. So quite literally the moment he and I parted ways, I started teaching myself…and I’ve never looked back.
"Where in the world have you had the chance to fly fish? Any fun exciting trips you would care to share with the readers?"
Since I’m still new to the sport, I’ve really focused on just trying to learn. I’m eager to get an international trip on the books, but I also want to make the most of those trips. So I’ve just been focusing on getting more proficient at the sport, and taking advantage of friends here and there willing to let me tag along. Having said that, I NEVER turn down an opportunity to go somewhere new and fish with internet strangers. So far, I’ve fished Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. Since I just moved to Colorado, I’ve got some lofty plans to fish across the West. On the books is Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Montana…but I’ve got a couple of tentative trips that will take me to Michigan and Washington…with a salt water trip in the works as well! But #1 bucket list trip is New Zealand to visit YOU!!!!
"What would you say some of the challenges have been for you when starting out/ becoming a keen angler?"
Where do I even begin???? I could have never dreamed of the dark places mentally and emotionally this sport has taken me!! Ha! I am Type A, driven, over achiever, and when you start learning how to fly fish, you have to be content with sucking for a LONG time. So the initial challenge for me was feeling completely incapable and hopeless. Before I really understood the intricacies of this sport, I thought it was just about a rod and a fly. It wasn’t until I started failing miserably that I began to understand the true art of fly fishing. It became more evident to me with each time I went out, that it was more about how the ecosystem and the elements are driving and influencing the behavior of the fish, and it was my job to try and understand that and piece together the bigger picture. It’s very easy to think fly fishing is a combination of: picking the right fly, aiming in the right place, setting the hook, and netting the fish. But I very quickly learned that to be successful, it’s understanding your environment so you can make educated ‘guesses’ to determine: where the fish are going to be, what they’re going to be eating, and how much energy they’re willing to expend for food. THEN you start the process of choosing a rod, leader and tippet size, the fly, reading the water, determining the depth and weight needed, presenting your fly in a way that looks natural, being able to not only detect a strike, but to react quick enough to set the hook, being patient and calm during the fight, and hopefully…getting it safely into the net. It’s not until you’ve had a shocking number of heart breaking days where you’ve sat sobbing along a river bank, believing yourself to be inferior to a fish, that you begin to realize that perhaps it’s not the just the fish you’re after.
"What has fly fishing done for you? (personally/ emotionally/ what has it done for your soul, ya feel?)"
Girl, I feel! Ha! Fly fishing has given me strength to push beyond my limitations. It has given me peace amongst chaos I cannot control. It has given me patience that surpasses my own understanding. It has given me an appetite for adventure. It has given me joy that bursts out of every inch of my being. It has given me heartbreak that fuels my desire for more. It has healed me from grief I never thought I would overcome. It has taught me to appreciate each and every day spent on this planet. It has caused me sorrow for how much time and energy I waste on things not worthy of my thoughts. It has given me hope on days when I believed there was none. But mostly, fly fishing has given me purpose. And even as I sit and read this, it makes me laugh at the absurdity of those words. But anyone who has really fallen into this weird cult like sport/hobby/obsession, knows that our true purpose is to educate and conserve. Our purpose is to show the beauty and necessity of these creatures, and to ensure they continue to thrive. Ya feel?
"What are some of your future plans or goals either personally or regarding fly fishing?"
My goal is just to continue to learn. I love that social media has connected me to other people who love this sport the way I do. And I am thrilled when I succeed and can share my passion with others…but if social media were to cease to exist, I would still do this, and I would still have the same goal. I want to learn, I want to understand, I want to get to a place where I can walk up to any body of water and fish it with
confidence. I want to make sure I’m being a good steward of these resources, I want to travel, meet other likeminded people, and bond over these slimy, elusive, beautiful creatures.
"What inspiration would you give to yourself back when you first started out as an angler?"