Guide Brett Rader expands the term "full-service" on Lake Taneycomo, always stretching himself to provide the next lifetime fishing adventure for his clients -- besides teaching them new fly tying and casting techniques, producing replica trout mounts and offering custom artwork.
That could be a challenge with some of his clients booking him several times a year. But since he is on the water 200 to 225 days a year, fishing all of his "spots" can take several days.
Rader and his wife, Shelley, left the corporate world in 2002 to plunge full-time into their dream of Chartered Waters -- now a full-service fly shop right on the banks of upper Lake Taneycomo at milemarker 18 since 2007. Together with their son, Marlin, 21, and daughter McKenna, now 8, they offer all the extras -- rentals on waders and rods, airport shuttle service (and soon lodging in a house they are remodeling next door.)
As Rader boasts on his website, "Shelley is a dedicated mom and has home schooled Marlin and now McKenna since day one. She built and maintains our web site -- multi-talented to say the least. Marlin is my best adult friend and McKenna is by my side every minute I'm not on the water. The kids can handle a fly rod with the best of them."
With a degree in wildlife management from Hocking Tech (southern Ohio) and a minor in art, Rader has been able to combine his skills in the business. He started pursuing a degree in fisheries biology at Ohio State when he was afforded a job in commercial art -- a career path that eventually led him to creative director positions at Starter Sportswear in New Haven, CT (where he courted Shelley) and then at American Identity (now Staples Promotion) in Kansas City.
Rader's creative bent keeps him constantly designing new flies, even though he estimates about two dozen a year become useful. "I find the prettiest ones are not necessarily the ones that work," he said," and I've learned to pay attention to materials that look and work right under water rather than what is esthetically pleasing to me."
Although he has offered conventional fly tying classes in the past, he finds most clients want a much more casual encounter. "They usually want to learn how to tie the pattern they fished with all day."
His flexibility keeps him open to make each trip different for each client, offering combination wading and fishing outings, sometimes including Crane Creek, Roaring River and other favorite honey hole creek spots.
"It really depends on what the individual wants to do. That can range from a first timer who has never touched a fly rod to veterans who are looking to learn the next technique Sometimes we get the veteran who want to bring a friend or wife who has never tried fly fishing, so we mix it up for everyone."
Besides fishing, Rader grew up in the sport of racing in Supercross and MotoCross, even winning a couple of amateur National Championships. A bad accident blew out his knee the year after he turned pro, so he turned his competitive nature toward education, business and, always, toward fishing. He challenges himself with the guarantee that clients, however novice, will catch fish their first outing or they don't pay -- a guarantee that has yet to cost him.
Although Rader received some press recently for the "probable" state record 31-inch rainbow caught by client Mark Clemishire Nov. 2 (they returned it quickly to the water without weighing it) -- one of his most memorable trophy stories happened several years ago. He and a client had spotted a huge brown, probably a female 35-plus inches long. She was surrounded by seven or eight large males, all 18 to 24 inches themselves. The client succeeded in hooking the trophy brown on the first fly of his tandem rig and had played her for five to 10 minutes, when one of the smaller males nabbed the second, smaller fly -- releasing the lunker female back to freedom.
"That's probably the only time in my life I will ever be trying to get a 20-inch brown off the line," Rader said, but that's part of the unexpected thrills Taneycomo has afforded.
"Taneycomo may not always get the most respect on the national scene," he said, "There may be more strikingly beautiful places, more wild places, but as far as quality fishing experiences day in and day out, you can't beat it."