WICHITA, Kans. – For Glenn Personey, the only thing better than fishing is fishing with his daughter- a passion they shared for two decades.
“As soon as she could hold a rod, I’d take her out, and we’d start fishing,” said Personey. “Later on, when her medical condition developed, she couldn’t use a fly rod if she wanted to.”
Diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder in her 20’s, Ashley lost the strength to stand, but not her desire to fish. Together, dad and daughter tried something new.
They started tying flies, looking for an easier way to lure in fish.
“This is the most difficult part of the whole thing is getting the feather on here properly,” said Personey, demonstrating his technique from a workroom at home.
By trial and error, the avid angler found the key to an effective fly is more feathers!
Personey was fishing with his father one day, and none of the standard flies were working. Then he tried one of his ‘crazy’ designs.
“So I tie it on, flip it out there, and wham! I catch a 21-inch rainbow,” said Personey with a smile.
It was no fluke and led to a patented fly design with feathers flared forward and back.
“Fish see that move in the water, and it looks like a swimming minnow or crawfish or whatever,” said Personey.
Best of all, the better bait helps other kids with limited mobility catch fish, too.
16-year-old Ethan Higginbotham loves to fish, but often needs help because he’s in a wheelchair.
“He’s kinda limited to what he can do as far as a cast and retrieve kind of lure, and this looks pretty neat,” said Ethan’s dad, Rob.
Personey helped Ethan and 15-year old Wenxi Funk try out the flies at a local lake. Each used a standard fishing rod and casting bubble.
It didn’t take long for the fish to bite!
“Here ya go,” said Rob, helping Ethan pull a fish from the water. “Hold him!”
Both boys reeled a few in. Nothing big, but still exciting!
“Definitely feels easier, I feel like,” said Ethan.
Wenxi’s mom agrees.
“If you watch other fishermen, they’re roaming the bank trying to find that spot, but that’s not possible for Wenxi or Ethan so that ability to get the fish’s attention differently is awesome,” said Leann Funk.
Glenn Personey now sells 27 different flies online. His business, “Bear River Tackle,” is named for his daughter, who loved to scoop fish out of the water like a little bear.
Sadly, Ashley never got to see the business. She died last year at age 30.
“She was my fishing buddy so I miss her,” said Personey, quietly. “I miss her all the time.”
He shares what Ashley loved with others and hopes her namesake helps more families make memories.