The stress he sometimes feels from running his own manufacturing company often leads Matt Abrams to one of his favorite pastimes, which also is one of his favorite vices.
Abrams drives from his office in San Gabriel to his home in San Dimas, treks through his house to a small table, plants himself in front of a small vice and ties fishing flies.
Like a growing number of fishermen seeking a challenge greater than simply baiting a hook and dropping it into the water, the allure of creating and tying his own lures hooked Abrams on fly-fishing.
"I tie flies to relax," said Abrams, 34. "Instead of sitting in front of a TV and going into oblivion watching sitcoms, I sit down at the vice and start daydreaming about what the water will look like the next time I fish, the people who are going with me and other things.
"I'm sitting here on a rainy day in San Dimas and my mind is on the San Juan River."
Abrams is a 12-year member of the Pasadena Casting Club. The club, which has 300 members, was founded in 1947 to "promote and cultivate the scientific art of angling and casting, promote the conservation of fish, habitat and natural resources . . . and to promote social relations among members," according to club literature.
Fly-fishing equipment can range in price from $100-$400. Fly-fishermen attempt to outsmart fish with artificial flies that can resemble anything from insects to miniature hula girls.
Dyed feathers, colored thread, wire and fur are just some of the materials used to create classic and newfangled flies.
"Some people have taken it to an art form," Abrams said. "They don't even fish with them. They put them in matted frames and hang them on their walls."
On Tuesday the club will begin its annual seven-week fly-tying course at the organization's clubhouse located in the Lower Arroyo Seco near the Rose Bowl.
The seminars are open to beginners and experienced fishermen and will cover proper tying techniques, materials selection and preparation.
The fly-tying course is one of several events sponsored by the club, which meets on the second Thursday of each month at the Masonic Temple in San Marino. In addition to the meetings, which feature presentations from nationally known fly-fishers, the club also sponsors casting clinics and fishing trips to Mammoth, Utah, Montana and other fly-fishing hot spots. It also sponsors a once-a-year formal dinner and auction.
In the early 1980s, the club adopted the west fork of the San Gabriel River. There, and in other places, the group clears brush and performs other conservation acts to enhance the fly-fishing experience.
Club members also practice a catch-and-return philosophy.
"Fly-fishing isn't about being manly and battling fish, it's more finesse," said Dan Reed, 55, a former president of the Pasadena Casting Club. "Casting is like a golf swing. It's how the whole thing is put together that makes it work.
"The nice thing about the club is that it gives you a number of people to fish with. Your skills increase because you're with people who are trying to learn all they can. If you really want to be good at it, it takes time."
The clubhouse and casting pool near the Rose Bowl offer a good place to begin or refine fly-fishing skills. The clubhouse is open every Sunday from 1-5 p.m., and features extensive libraries of books and videos about the sport.
Interested parties may browse through the clubhouse or get instruction in fly-tying or casting.
"This is a great activity for people who want to do things as a family," Abrams said. "We have several husband-and-wife and father-and-son type deals among the membership.
"The club is a vehicle for getting involved and meeting people. I probably have met a dozen pretty close friends and many more acquaintances through my involvement.
"There are some people who are only interested in fishing and others that are just very interested in conservation, from recycling cans at the clubhouse to fighting the government for water rights.
"It's a nice, diverse crowd."
Information about the Pasadena Casting Club is available by calling ( 818 ) 356-7406.