I recall many of the sisters at school during my younger days being quicker on the draw with a detention slip than Billy The Kid. But not all of them were pure business, of course. I fondly remember Sister Faith, who wore a Philadelphia Eagles jersey over her habit any day the birds were playing. Then there was Sister Elizabeth who often subbed in as goalie–in pads–during recess hockey games. However, I have never met a sister that flyfishes, let alone one that teaches her students to tie. How Sister Carol Anne Corley of Hot Springs, AR, came to do both, is quite a story.
Sister Carol Anne’s story from the Arkansas Catholic is actually a really good read, and I highly recommend you check out the whole thing, but I’ll touch on a few parts here. Flyfishing is an expensive sport, so how does someone who’s taken a vow of poverty break in?
From the story:
“Arkansas is famous for fly fishing,” she said. “I was in Springfield, Mo., and when I left the people I worked with gave me a gift of a $100 gift card to Bass Pro Shop.”
Wanting to make that gift go as far as she could, Sister Carol Anne dug through discount bins and catalog returns to assemble a hobnob of mismatched gear, hit Kmart for a rod, line and starter flies, then set out to learn the art of the craft.
“You should never teach yourself to fly fish,” she said. “I had this two fly rule, I would fish as long as two flies would last, because I couldn’t afford more than that. Some nights that was very quickly, but sometimes I managed to do pretty well.”
As for tying, Sister Carol Anne learned the practice from her brother, and when he passed away, she inherited all his tools and materials. Her love of spinning bug eventually lead her to starting a tying class for the kids at St. John’s School. But tying materials aren’t cheap either. Here’s her solution to that:
“I began to think, there’s a cheaper way of doing this,” she said. “I realized there are many inexpensive things you can use to substitute for materials. Some you can’t, but I would say that probably 80 percent of stuff you can find in craft shops, sewing stores, whatever.”
Her resourcefulness has seemingly no bounds — she’s been known to swipe the very tails off roadkill squirrels or produce fuzz by grinding yarn in a coffee grinder. Her coupe de grace, the Resurrection Fly, she created using plastic Easter grass.
You go, Sister!