Blue Collar Fly Fishing Podcast Episode 5- Chris Johnson

This week Aaron Reed talks with fly angler and shop owner Chris Johnson of Living Waters fly shop in Round Rock, Texas. 

00:00 Intro

00:58 Shoutout to Real Ale Brewing and Real Spirits Distilling (

01:32 Shoutout to Duck Camp (

02:37 Thanks to our underwriter, The Local Angler series, and Imbrifex Books (

03:25 We join Chris in his office at Living Waters Fly Fishing.

04:00 Chris and Aaron discuss the Baetis hatch at Luna’s Tacos that afternoon.

05:00 We gotta mention Round Rock Donuts (

05:43 Chris stands in line so we don’t have to.

07:30 We discuss the guide service and Chris’s guide line-up. Chris inadvertently gives away his (shockingly young) age.

09:30 Shoutout to OG Texas freshwater guide Marcus Rodriguez.

11:58 We take a Chaco’s detour (

13:10 We introduce the amazing shop staff, all our friends.

15:53 The youngest member of the staff, and Aaron’s small-world connection to the Pafk family.

19:18 Fly fishing as a lifetime sport; does that contribute to the notable “small world” phenomenon we often remark upon?

22:25 By the way, most of the best flies in the shop were designed by people who work (or worked) there.

22:40 Shoutout to Matt Bennett at

23:15 Walk through the doors of LWFF, and you’re family.

24:00 Got any crickets?

24:29 The first shop was a reclaimed cat shelter.

26:50 What’s a “creek shop,” and why is Living Waters Fly Fishing one of them?

28:44 “I was in college and found I couldn’t major in fishing, and that was a real downer.”

34:25 We take a quick Tenkara detour.

35:00 The pandemic year and the shop. Aaron means “March of 2020,” natch.

38:10 How the biggest year began.

40:45 Williamson County declares fly fishing “essential.”

44:20 Building community: weekly fly-tying, and monthly “Intro to Fly Fishing” classes.

45:22 Aaron mispronounces guide Pat Vanek’s last name. Look for Pat at Bosque Valley Fly Fishing.

46:50 Why Chris doesn’t offer free beer at the shop. (Hint: It’s not because he is opposed to a good craft beer.”

51:40 So how did the pandemic year work out for Living Waters?

52:40 The importance of not cutting pre-season orders.

53:45 “Head and shoulders, our best year ever.”

53:49 “We invented ‘social distancing.’”

55:35 “It was a bigger boom than the movie.” (“The movie,” of course, is “A River Runs Through It.”)

56:25 Chris and Aaron discuss home waters and the Central Texas fisheries.

1:00:15 Just how much public water is there in Texas? Aaron runs down the numbers.

1:01:20 Chris is a not-so-closet birder.

1:02:18 Population and development pressures on Central Texas waters, especially Brushy Creek.

1:03:08 “The fight is now over water.”

1:04:10 “All water is connected.”

1:05:16 Last year’s big conservation win on Brushy Creek.

1:07:00 The coming Tesla invasion.

1:09:00 Aaron grasps for an analogy, and inadvertently places Black’s BBQ in Luling (it’s in Lockhart, y’all).

1:09:58 New stickuhs in Chris’s shop, including two natives from Mike Williams.

1:10:37 How the Rio Grande cichlids fared in the historic deep freeze we experienced this year.

1:15:02 Check out the new “Fly Fish the Republic” sticker from our friend Nate Karnes at Remedy Provisions ( That’s the first flag of the Republic, designed by Tejano patriot Lorenzo de Zavala in 1836.

1:16:45 What does “Fly Fish the Republic” mean, anyway?

1:19:00 #flyfishtherepublic actually raises money for native fish conservation within the borders of the historic Republic of Texas (that included some fishy parts of present-day New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming).

1:19:30 What are the similarities between Guadalupe bass and Rio Grande cutthroat, and what can fishing about the former teaches you about the latter?

1:21:35 Here’s a tip: try a size 14 damsel nymph for big Guads.

1:24:20 Where to find Living Waters Fly Fishing in person and online.

1:25:17 Oh yeah, what brands does Living Waters Fly Fishing carry?

1:26:26 Central Texas is Scientific Anglers country. (

1:27:30 Tearful goodbyes.

1:29:02 A final tip: right now, Brushy is on fire from the Dell Diamond west through town. Go fishing!