“Women On The Fly” Film and Casting Party


Join us for a SaraBella Casting Party & short film, “Women On The Fly” (by Peak Adventure Media)! The film features 4 brave women in the fly fishing industry. Let’s celebrate female anglers and smart, beautiful fishing!

Graciously sponsored by Upslope Brewing Company, Umpqua Feather Merchants, The Denver Fly Shop, Damsel Fly Fishing, Dun Magazine, AnglHer, Yeti & Fishmasks.

Our Community Partners include Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, COActive, The Mile High WorkShop, The Mayfly Project, Colorado Women Flyfishers, and the Greenbacks (Trout Unlimited).

Sat. June 10 4-8 pm @ Converge Denver (3327 Brighton Blvd, 80216)

$10 Ticket includes  heavy apps, beer, dessert, & games/prizes!

Purchase Tickets Here

Parking Info

  • Converge Denver — 3327 Brighton Blvd., Denver 80216
  • GPS coordinates: 39.768742, -104.981282
  • Building address is clearly marked
  • RiNo is under construction, so please read carefully!
  • See map (left) with parking notes.
  • Please park in the dirt lot, SOUTH of the Converge building
  • Access this lot from Arkins Ct (west of Brighton Blvd)
  • When you park, you’ll walk to the east end of the lot (toward Brighton Blvd), then turn left/north on the foot path
  • Walk past the Downtown Dog/Cat, past the alley, enter Converge building


Cancer, Set Me Free

by Michelle Karl

Michelle connected to SaraBella through a colleague of her husband, and a dear friend of April. When April met Michelle, she was inspired by her story, by her authentic battle with breast cancer, and by Michelle’s adventures ahead. We will share Michelle’s journey on our website and social media – through fishing, reflecting, exploring, and discovering. Her family will float various rivers in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and British Columbia. We’re all cheering for health, fun, and for cancer to set her free.

This is a special Mother’s Day.

I am asking for an unusual gift, I am asking for my own peace.

I am an overachiever, a perfectionist and a caretaker.  I am also a therapist so I know that my tendencies are rooted in a fear of not being good enough… a fear that the people I love will see my faults and leave.

Over a year ago I was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer.  Today, I have completed: a double mastectomy, six rounds of chemotherapy, nineteen radiation treatments, 16 rounds of Herceptin, and one reconstructive surgery.  This last year has shaken me.

In hindsight, I can see that my body braced itself for the assault.  I lived my life, I performed in my roles as a wife, a mother, a friend.  I had low expectations for myself during treatment.  I bowed down to cancer and embraced my vulnerability, asked for help, thanked God for my good and bad days, and survived.  This week I was talking with my daughter and she expressed that although the year had challenges, cancer had also brought blessings to our family.  I can see that as well.

Greg and Michelle’s daughter…and their boat

Despite all that we endured last year, enveloped in a loving community of friends and family I was able to remain positive, for the most part.  However, it is now, that I have found myself to be more pessimistic and critical, especially of my physical  body.  I have gained weight, my jeans are too tight, I do not like my hair, I have scars, the list goes on.

When I look at my physical self I see myself falling short.  I often do not see someone who is accomplished or strong, maybe even lovable.  I have tried to run away from these messages all my life by doing more. Preforming at work, preforming athletically, preforming in the care for my children, my home and my marriage.  Using my body as the shell that orchestrates it all.  Looking at the surface of what my body was showing to others as a reflection of what I was worth underneath.

Michelle’s daughter

There is no more shell. There cannot be.  It is only me.  It has deeply saddened me that I have not been able to accept the power that my body has shown this year.  How can I possible berate this physical body?  This body that, not only survived this year but has been able to show strength and courage and grace and vulnerability.

How can I not be thankful to this body that allowed me to wake up everyday and somehow go for a walk?  The body that allowed me to laugh and love in the midst of a crisis.

Intellectually, I know I should feel differently.  But when will I believe?   My body wants to be acknowledged for all it needs and all its strength, for the reality of all it does.  I am just starting to understand this.  My body wants its voice to be heard.  To stop the performance. To stop running and accept the nurturance that I can give it by listening in the quiet.

Michelle on the boat they built

This week my husband and I had the opportunity to meet with April, the founder of SaraBella Fishing.  We talked about being out in nature and the healing that can happen there, in the quiet. We talked about breast cancer, about empowering women and gaining self awareness and strength.  She told me about an organization that teaches women diagnosed with breast cancer how to fly fish, I am a novice.  We talked about my families three week, summer fly fishing and camping trip and the opportunity to use that time that time to heal.

I am looking for peace. Cancer has certainly impacted my life.  Yet I know the cancer did not get me  The cancer may be what sets me free.

Jim Sawyer

written by April Archer

Our beloved friend and SaraBella team member, Jim Sawyer, has passed away this morning. In the past few weeks, his beautiful family (and so many friends) have surrounded him with love. He is ready to begin his next chapter. Please keep Jim’s family in your thoughts and prayers.

We have learned many things from “Grandpa Jim”. We’ve learned about serving our country, working hard, studying in school (and in life), being thankful, and enjoying the power and beauty of water. He taught us that perfection doesn’t exist, that we all make mistakes, and that life is a gift that should never be taken for granted.

A few years ago, when SaraBella was in its infancy, we were defining how we wanted to hire, build rods, and make an impact. As we searched for new team members, we learned about Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) and their rod-building program.

When I reached out to Jim (he was the leader of the rod-building program at Denver PHWFF) he took us under his wing, taught us, inspired us, befriended us, and let us into his life. Jim became our “Head Rod-Wrapper” and has been an incredible team member.

SaraBella rod by Jim (photo 5280 Magazine)

The last rod he wrapped, for Deb

If you have purchased a SaraBella fly rod in the past few years, there’s a high probability that “a Veteran named Jim” wrapped it. He has also trained and taught our team members with techniques that make our rods so special.

Soon after he began working with SaraBella, Jim told me about the anniversary of the passing of his daughter, Julie. She battled cancer, and Jim was deeply saddened by her loss. When he shared this with me, I asked him to write a blog, entitled “Honoring Julie” to recognize her. From that point forward, we had a really special connection.

When a tough and rugged Veteran uses his hands and his mind to create artistic fly rods, the result is amazing. He focuses, he measures, he counts, and he thinks about the person who will experience joy on the water with this fly rod. He always asked who the rod is for and where it’s going. I would tell him, “This one’s for a woman in Tennessee” or “This one’s for a teenage girl in Minnesota” or “This one is a ‘David Bowie’ tribute rod for a guide in Colorado”. When wrapping a rod, he reflected on his life, he worried about nothing, and he poured his love into each wrap.

Jim teaching SaraBella team

Jim often told people, “There are only two things that are certain – birth and death — the bookends. It’s what you do in the middle that matters most.” This is so true, and I feel so blessed that we have had the opportunity to be a part of his (and our) “middle”.

Jim and April, at an event

When my family went to Montana last summer, Jim sat down with me, over black coffee, to plan the route and the fishing. He told me that he lived in (I think it was) 7 towns which are now “ghost towns”. He shared stories  about the ranches he worked on, the cattle he tended, the rocks he threw, the winters he endured, the science he studied, his favorite fishing spots (especially the Big Hole) the crazy journey of war, family, education, love, loss, and life.

Jim Sawyer is with all of us every time we’re near water. He believes that water heals. Really heals. He believes that it can transform PTSD, ease depression, inspire hope, bring joy, give peace, and create life.

Thanks to Jim, we appreciate a Montana-style chicken fried steak, creamy ice cream, a tattered fly, perfect trim wraps, and bumpy dirt roads.

Jim at a SaraBella casting party

One of Jim’s beautiful rods

Jim teaches at an event

Jim Sawyer – you’re a “keeper”, we love you, our words cannot thank you enough, and we wish you great joy in your adventures ahead!

The Reel World: Coloradans are Serious About Fly-fishing

denver-life-mag-feature_fly-fishing-250x324Healing Waters

By April Archer

Finding joy in fly-fishing’s physical and mental benefits

There’s something wonderful about water. Outside of the obvious necessity for life, it does a tremendous amount for us as humans, for our psyche, for our well-being.

Water has a direct correlation to aiding with mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. By simply hearing its sounds and watching its motion, one’s blood pressure can drop as the stress of our day-to-day lives slowly fades away.

Read the full article at http://denverlifemagazine.com

Real Men and Breast Cancer

by David McElwain

As of 2016, David is a member of the SaraBella fly tying and rod-building team. We are honored to know him, to learn from him, and to share adventures in fly fishing with him! Thanks to David for his courage an inspiration….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs the leaves begin to turn, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is here and on my pink_ribbon_t670mind. I am a professional flyfisher and tier and spend most of my time on the rivers and lakes of Colorado. I am a man and a breast cancer survivor!

That’s right, I am male. Not only women HAVE BREAST CANCER…

During this season and year round remind your loved ones to soap up and feel for breast lumps.

As you turn your calendar make a note to remind your husband, boyfriend or lover to check.  Your teenage daughters and sons need to be virulent as well. This soapy check can change and save your life.

Something as little as a tugging on your shirt button should be investigated, don’t just write it off to weight gain. CHECK IT OUT!

Very few males get breast cancer, but it very aggressive and can’t be dismissed. I survived MOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAale Breast Cancer in 2015. It seemed like a never ending battle. If not for the support of my wife and friends, I would have quit!

As the leaves begin to turn, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is here and on my mind. Remember to CHECK IT OUT on the first of every month….REAL MEN CAN GET BREAST CANCER!



More about David….

We are honored to have David McElwain as our first SaraBella fly tier. He is also a member of our SaraBella rod-wrapping team, and he does fantastic work. It’s an honor to bring his talents to you!

David has been fly fishing for over 40 years. As a youngster, he was taught the ways of fishing and nature by his grandfather and Dad on the shore at Bennett Springs, Missouri. He started with a cane pole and a wooly worm in the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOzark Hills. In his early 20’s, he started tying flies while working at a friend’s fly shop at Bennett Springs State Park. In 1999, David joined Bass Pro Shops as a member of the fly fishing team – as a tying and casting instructor. He later transferred to Denver to lead the efforts to open the store’s fly fishing department.

David is a certified Adaptive Fly Fishing Practitioner and enjoys teaching people to fly fish through various organizations including, Adaptive Fly Fishing, Wish of a Lifetime, and the Wounded Warriors. He is also a member of Trout Unlimited, the International Federation of Fly Fishers, and The Fly Dressers Guild.

David’s first book, Our Grandfathers’ Flies, a historical retrospective to fly tiers reaching the shores of a new world; which is fabulous tribute to flies tied with furs, feathers, and hairs. In the past year, David has been battling breast cancer. He is determined to beat this disease, and with support of his wife, Lauren, he is able to keep his hands and mind connected to the sport of fly fishing.

When asked why he supports the vision of SaraBella Fishing, David replied, “I applaud the efforts and tenacity to start any new business in this country, especially a fly rod company. I believe and salute your wisdom and mission to empower women to be part of what I believe to be the ultimate sport.”

Rodmaking Rose

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-2-18-32-pmThe beauty of SaraBella goes beyond pretty colors

BEFORE APRIL ARCHER cofounded Denver-based SaraBella Fishing—makers of women-specific fly rods—she’d already noticed an influx of female flyfishers to the sport. But as an angler herself, fishing since she was a toddler and flyfishing for the past 16 years, she also recognized that there was a distinct lack of women-specific gear.

“I started to pay more attention to what was available for women, and became frustrated at what was and wasn’t out there,” says Archer. “Some companies have a women’s line, but it’s a sliver of their market, not their main focus.”

READ the full article (pdf)

The Drake Magazine2016 Fall Issue

Giggling Forward by April Archer in DUN Magazine

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-2-58-17-pmDUN Magazine October – November 2016 (pg 61-74)

The summer came to an abrupt halt as my three daughters loaded their backpacks and marched off into the first day of the school year. As they began 6th, 3rd and 2nd grades, I reflected on the giggles, questions, snuggles and smiles of these rambunctious girls.

READ the whole article.

Lake Lessons

by JT Archer

FullSizeRenderJT is the Chief Operating Officer for SaraBella Fishing. He brings a wealth of talent and experience to our team, and we appreciate all of his skills and insight. Whenever possible, he loves to fly fish (and spend time outdoors) with April, their children, friends, and family.

[Read more…]

In Wildness

By Andrew Todd

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 9.04.39 AMAndrew Todd is a dad, husband, research biologist, and fly angler. He leads the effort for the Rocky Mountain Flyathlon, and he loves to get his two daughters outdoors. Professionally, Andrew is a PhD environmental engineer with experience in aquatic and terrestrial ecotoxicology, hydrology, instream flow issues, water quality standards development, and general stream ecology. Andrew believes that by experiencing “wild” life (especially with kids), life can be really fun, interesting, and wonderful. SaraBella Fishing loves his passion about connecting girls with the sciences, the outdoors and in Wildness.

In retrospect, maybe it was a little crazy to drag my nine-year-old daughter and our Jack Russell on a work trip into the wilderness. Truth be told, during my many days in the Sand Creek drainage of the Great Sand Dunes, I have experienced the gamut of craziness, from Katefreak September snow storms to a (thankfully) brief encounter with the largest black bear I have ever seen. Yet something compelled me to pull Kate out of her second week of fourth grade, load her and Eddie Vedder into the truck, and drive to the edge of the wild Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Throwing on our packs, we crossed over Music Pass, incentivized by frequent water breaks and a bottomless bag of mini-marshmallows. Once we had descended into the valley, we set up camp, scarfed dinner then freeze-dried double chocolate cheesecake, and crashed out in a heap of down.

Over the next few days, Kate patiently stalked a vibrant Sand Creek cutthroat trout with her fly rod, hooked it, brought it to the bank, and carefully released it. Her first cutthroat on the fly. We day-hiked to Lower, then Upper Sand Creek Lake where we caught more trout then belly-flopped its frigid waters. We lingered for hours in the shadow of the Sangres. And on that last night, we camped a little too close to the campfire that Kate helped Kate2build, where she heard my fish biologist colleagues use words that she has been told not to use in new and creative ways…

Sure, the logistics of taking a nine-year-old girl and her twelve-pound dog into the wilderness are complicated. And there is significant risk. So why do it?

On the brink of middle school, I want Kate to know incredibly wild places that she can revisit when times are hard, even if those visits occur only in her mind. I want Kate to know that the world is much bigger than the girls who will inevitably pick on her for being true to herself. I want Kate to seek out adventures that challenge her notion of what is reasonable. I want her to ask me to get her out there, wherever there may be, whenever she wants to go.

In Wildness is the preservation of the girl…






Fishing New Waters

5280 Magazine

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-2-10-07-pmSaraBella Fishing targets women with its new Signature Teal rod.

MAY 2016

A River Runs Through It is about a family connecting through fly-fishing—minus the mom. Mrs. Maclean always seemed to be too intimidated to invite herself along. That trepidation was April Archer’s inspiration for starting SaraBella Fishing, a Colorado company that markets fly-fishing rods to females in particular.

Read the whole article

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