Peter Stitcher, owner of Ascent Fly Fishing, has been hawking flies out of his Littleton garage since 2013, but don’t confuse his company’s humble digs for a small-scale operation. The trained aquatic biologist has built an international supply chain to provide flies to anglers around the world.

From North America, Patagonia & New Zealand…

Stitcher spent the first part of his career helping landowners build private trophy trout fisheries. He used that experience—plus samples and data from fish and game agencies and other researchers—to catalog the species and subspecies of insects that trout find tasty in North America, Patagonia, and New Zealand, three of the world’s most popular fly-fishing regions and the areas to which Stitcher tailors his flies.

Photo courtesy of Reno Boyd.

To Littleton HQ…

Using that database, Stitcher can identify which of the 600,000 fly patterns Ascent stocks best match the bugs of any waterways in those regions. “I might not have samples from a particular tributary,” he says, “but based on the bugs that live at similar elevations in bigger streams nearby, I can extrapolate the bugs that’ll be there as well.”

To South Park & Delta…

Flies are typically made of feathers and fur. Ascent buys the former from Delta’s Whiting Farms, whose chickens are prized by fly tiers for their feathers’ colors and textures, while its elk hair is sourced from herds in the South Park region of Colorado.

To Nairobi, Kenya…

Like many of its competitors’ fly tiers, Ascent’s 55 full-time workers live in Nairobi, Kenya. (“Wherever the British went, they brought fly-fishing,” Stitcher says.) The company not only provides its fly tiers with health care, a living wage, and no-interest microloans, but it also shares six percent of Ascent’s profit. “We’re stewards of this [hobby],” Stitcher says, “and we share it with our tiers so their kids can go to college and have health care if they need it.”

Fly casting in Nairobi. Photo courtesy of Jessica Baratta.

To the Colorado River…

Flies can be purchased individually online or by appointment from Stitcher’s garage. Anglers can also have Stitcher and his team put all their data to work and build a custom fly box, not only for the particular season and river—or specific section of river—they plan to fish, but also for their skill levels, styles, and price ranges. “If you take one of my fly boxes out with a fishing guide,” he says, “I want that guide to tip you at the end of the day because they learned so much.”

This article was originally published in 5280 September 2022.

Nicholas Hunt
Nicholas Hunt

Nicholas writes and edits the Compass, Adventure, and Culture sections of 5280 and writes for 5280.com.