A couple of shoulder surgeries – three actually – over the last two years has changed Rick Murphy’s experiences out on the river, but it has not diminished his passion for fly fishing at all. How could it? He’s been at this for a long, long time. From commercial fly tyer, to saltwater fishing, to guiding on our great fisheries in Colorado – Rick Murphy, one of Angler’s Covey sales staff, has pretty much done it all.
Rick Murphy started fly fishing in 1962, at the age of 13, on the beaches of Cape Coral, Florida. He had been working for bait shop there – his first real job – when he picked up a fly rod. He’s caught bass, blue gill, crappie all on the fly. The first tarpon he hooked up with on the fly rod broke him off. (He did catch two tarpon – the first two ever – from the pier in Cape Coral with a spinning rod at the age of 13). He’s been pursuing this fly fishing adventure ever since.
As a member of the United States Air Force, Rick was stationed in Colorado Springs in 1982 and has called it home ever since. “I always thought I would return to Florida, but after being stationed here for 10 years, no way.” Before retiring after 26 years (“and four days”), he worked for the Inspector General at the Academy, and then the Space Command, before retiring on August 1, 1992 from his last posit.on at NORAD.
When Rick first moved to Colorado Springs, he hooked up with Phil Cameron who taught him how to tie flies on a rainy day that cancelled out fishing for that day. That turned into a long run of tying commercially. “It’s pretty intense work – sometimes tying up 16 dozen in two days when orders are coming in. And I was still doing my ‘day job’ with the Air Force.”
After retiring from the Air Force, Rick began guiding for local area shops, including the Covey. You can imagine the stories that Rick has over these past 24 years. He guided one dentist, who happened to do the dental work for Vice President Joe Biden, on a trip to the Dream Stream. Within 45 minutes, the angler landed a nice 24” cuttbow – and said “I’m good. We can head back so I can get on the golf course.” Rick laughs a little at the memory – “we were on the road to-and-from the Stream for longer than we fished. But he got the fish he wanted.”
When he guided for the Broadmoor, Rick had a repeat client – a husband and wife – that requested to be picked up at the resort’s golf course at 1:00 p.m. every day. With a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. They returned every summer for eight years with the same request. Then they’d go fish Elevenmile Canyon – but had to be back to the Broadmoor by 6:00 p.m. so they could make their 7:00 dinner.
“I miss that part of it,” Rick says. “In a day you would go from somebody who never had a fly rod in their hands before to catching fish by the end of the day.” Like all the best guides, Rick says this is about them, the client. “Guides create the experience for the client – so you have to put your ego to the side.”
But shoulder surgeries have changed Rick’s life on the river and in the shop. In April of 2014, he had the first of his surgeries which sidelined him until March of this year. He’s loved coming back to the shop, though.
“These young guys are a great staff,” he says of Cody, Steven, Michael and the sales folks on the floor. Rick says that the industry has changed, the “products are amazing with the impact of technology. These guys are smart (about the new gear), and the ones who are tying flies are creative with the new materials coming out.”
“And our young guides are great,” Rick says. “Knowledgeable and not a bunch of ego involved.”
“The industry is in good hands,” Rick says.
And, I might add, it’s because of the mentorship with guys like Rick Murphy who have come before and laid the foundation.
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