How did you fall in love with fly fishing and woodworking?
I guess I fell in love with fly fishing, woodworking, and the outdoors from my father. When I was younger, he always took the traditional approach to the outdoors. So, if we were fishing, it was fly fishing. If we were hunting, it was bow hunting…which was kind of difficult for a kid because fly fishing is difficult and takes a lot of practice, patience, and focus.
After your father passed, you decided it was time you truly learned how to fly fish.
I was like, “I’m gonna commit to it, and I’m gonna learn it.” And when I do things, I go kind of hard at them, so I bought gear, and I started watching YouTube videos and reading things…and I went down to New Braunfels…and I didn't know what I was doing, so I just went down there and… I caught a fish and I was like, "That's crazy!" I got into it after that.
When you booked a fly fishing trip to Arkansas and the guide suggested you bring a net, but you didn’t have one!
I had some woodworking gear, and I inherited some from [my father]. I bought some wood and got my camera. I drew everything out to scale and had it printed…After that I cut this wood and tried to bend it, and it all snapped in half and the cuts weren't straight and I was really frustrated, but I consulted some people and asked more questions and did more research, bought better wood that would bend easier instead of, like, all this exotic crap that I thought I could make something really pretty with, you know? The second one I made actually came out decent, and I was able to take it to the fishing trip and actually put some trout in a net that I made, which I thought was pretty cool. After that, I kept fishing and I made more nets.
What inspired you to start Heart Wood Trade?
It was a fun experiment to make a nice website and have decent branding for something that kind of merges the things that I like, which is the outdoors, fly fishing, woodworking, photography, and video. And that's kind of been my outlet to showcase that without any restrictions. I named it Heart Wood Trade because it’s from the heart, which is sort of cheesy, but heartwood is also the center of a tree even though it’s one word… And you know, wood, obviously, then woodworking is a trade, but I do a lot of trade.
What makes your nets unique?
The detail I put into the handle, which is some kind of figurative knurling that gives relief, so that your fingers can wrap in a comfortable way around the wood to where it feels kind of ergonomically nice in your hand. And that sort of came from me in my past, playing competitive golf throughout high school and going to college to play. Holding a golf club is just something that feels good, and you want to feel good fly fishing. Like when you have a fly rod, you want it to feel nice and balanced, and I was like, “Why can’t a net feel that way?”
Where are your favorite spots to fish around Austin?
You can get a guide if you want to and fish for trout in the Guadalupe River, which is an hour away. You can also fish the lower Colorado just below the Longhorn Dam—that’s really cool. I have a friend that owns a really nice fly shop out of Round Rock called Living Waters Fly Fishing, and he fishes Brushy Creek. That’s a great spot to fish because they have Texas’ state fish, which is the Guadalupe bass.
Heart Wood Trade nets are solely commission-based and currently on a six-month waiting list heartwoodtrade.com/