January 02, 2024
The kitchen at the Noon residence is eat-off-the-floor tidy and clean. The countertops are virtually clutter free save for a pouch of sapphire blue Zoom Bait Co. lizards, a tiny crankbait suited for pond fishing and part of a Baby Bubbles aerator pump. Two fishing rods, both paired with casting reels, lean upright against the counter leading to a living room area.
Nobody makes a fuss about the fishing gear because in the Noon house, especially during summer break and especially in a house with three school-age boys, you’re either about to head out fishing, just getting back from being on the water or thinking about the next outing.
Fishing, more specifically salmon fishing, is a tie that binds the family together. From Kevin Noon, an electrician by trade, and wife Jamie, an elementary school teacher, to their sons Logan 13, Liam 11, and Landon 6, fishing is more than just an occasional hobby. It’s an eat-sleep-breathe sort of thing.
So much so that they’ve launched 3L Flies—the 3 Ls represent the son’s names—which specializes in making salmon trolling flies as well as meat rigs and flies for coho salmon. Presently, the bulk of the work is done by Kevin and Logan, who is on or near the water upwards of 300 days a year. Liam and Landon also pitch in and even Jamie is known to sit down at the tying station and crank out some rigs.
What used to be the boys’ playroom is now the nerve center for 3L. Supplies are organized in Glad ware containers next to a desk that serves as the main tying station. Ready for sale inventory is organized on pegboards at the back of the room. Additional space in the basement is devoted to tying and airbrushing trolling spoons and meat rigs, which is a go-to presentation for Lake Ontario salmon when using strips of cut bait.
“I think it’s great that they’re all involved and show a passion for it in some way,” said Jamie. “People always say they love to see the kids doing outdoor stuff. So often [kids] are just on their phones or gaming. I’m glad they’re involved with fishing.”
The 3L Flies venture is still in its infant stages with the bulk of their sales occurring at the Greater Niagara Fishing Expo held each winter in Niagara Falls, N.Y. They maintain 3L Flies Online Store and can fulfill custom orders as well. The Noons are also active in the local salmon tournament scene during the spring and summer. The family owns a 27-foot Tiara, which helps keep them connected to what the fish are feeding on (i.e. what color patterns or combos are working) at any given time.
The introductory message on the Town of Newfane’s official website reads, in part, “What Newfane lacks in size and population, it makes up for in rich history and communal spirit.”
And a good bit of that history and spirit are wrapped up in fishing. Situated about 30 miles east of Niagara Falls, Newfane lies on the east bank of Eighteen Mile Creek, a famed tributary that is interrupted by the even more famous Burt Dam, an iconic spot for salmon and trout anglers, before emptying into Lake Ontario in Olcott 4 miles due north.
It’s where Kevin grew up and cut his teeth as an angler, shore fishing every weekend either along the creek or on the lake shore with his dad.
“We fished religiously since I was in diapers,” he said. “Rain or shine, no matter what. That was how I started and then it grew.”
Leaned up against the cinder block wall near the landing of the basement stairs is a framed photograph a youthful Kevin holding up a plump king salmon.
“That’s what got it all started for me,” he said.
Now, the walls of the house and camera roll on his phone are adorned with images of him and his sons and wife hoisting fish. A fishing family indeed.
Start ‘Em Early
Logan has been into fishing since he was 2 years old. When he turned 7, he received a traditional fly-tying kit as a birthday gift, and he immediately immersed himself in the craft. In fact, he still uses components of the kit when building salmon flies. When Logan was 8, Kevin took him to a fly-tying class at an area Orvis store, where the instructors demonstrated how to tie a couple classic patterns—a woolly bugger and a stone fly. Logan finished his pretty quick, Kevin recalled, before he noticed Logan glance over at two older gentlemen who were struggling to get theirs started.
“Logan made eye contact with one of the guys and suggested he change his technique. It was pretty funny to see that unfold,” Kevin said.
Ever since, Logan’s passion for fishing has deepened. He’s the president of the conservation club at his school and has taught classmates how to properly construct a trolling fly. He’s just as happy fishing for bluegills or bowfin off the dock at the marina as he is using his center pin setup in the local creeks and streams or setting lines on the family boat, aptly named “It’s About Time.”
“You can ask his teachers,” Jamie said. “It’s all he talks about or writes about in school since kindergarten—it’s fishing.”
“He never gotten bored with it,” Kevin said. “He’s always trying something different.”
While Kevin and Logan sit at the family dinner table and discuss how a shared love for salmon fishing—well, fishing in general—has forged a lifetime bond, Landon, who shadows his oldest brother just about everywhere, snags one of the rods from the kitchen and works on his flipping technique in the living room behind them.
While salmon flies are just a small niche of the broader freshwater fishing tackle business, charter captains and recreational anglers who pursue salmon in the west and west-central portions of Lake Ontario are constantly looking for the most durable and consistent fish-catching rigs built with the right mix of color and flash. There are other more established brands that sell salmon flies and meat rigs, but the Noons are trying to carve out their spot in that niche.
Kevin explained that the workflow for 3L is pretty simple. He handles the sourcing of materials—hooks, line, beads, mylar, tinsel, thread, etc.—while Logan handles the bulk of the tying. For bigger orders, Kevin will pitch in. Even for a small family operation, there’s a lot to keep track of and as the business expands, they may have to make some adjustments. Bring it on, Kevin said.
“I would love it to be a headache,” Kevin said. “I would take that. I would love to have that problem of trying to meet a demand for something people want. That would be awesome.”
As Logan sits down to tie up a teaser rig, clumps of mylar cut into strips are spread across the tabletop. His workspace is illuminated by a desk lamp. A steel spring clamp holds the vise to the table. A pair of Vise grips hold a paper clip that he’s bent straight so the hub of the fly can slide on and off easily.
He gets to work with steady hands, a laser focus and an attention to detail that would make a tool and die maker proud. Too little material or too much and the finished product won’t pass muster. These guys are picky when it comes to quality control because they know the Lake Ontario salmon can be choosy. There’s where Kevin’s background as an electrician and process-based, precision mindset come in handy. He’s noticed some carry over to how Logan goes about his work.
“Mine’s on the electrical side, but his is on the fishing side,” Kevin said. “He wants it to look perfect and nothing can be out of place. He knows what they’re supposed to look like.”
And he’s starting to know what it feels like to receive positive customer feedback, too. A couple small tackle shops in western New York carry 3L products and a few local charter captains have 3L Flies product on their boats. Logan has even spotted his creations on boats from outside the area.
“It’s a crazy thing to think about,” Logan said when asked what it feels like to know something he made in old playroom or basement is now helping people land salmon on one of the Great Lakes.
“It’s really cool and rewarding to know that something you came up with is working for somebody else,” Kevin added. “When someone buys something from us, I want them to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth out of it and that it works. That’s the biggest thing.”