How The Desktop Fishing Knots Set was born

This is a story about how the three parts of a man’s life came together in the creation of this unique product.

#1 The Woodworker

Larry Mestyanek’s father, Joseph, was a woodworker who learned the trade from Larry’s grandfather, Peter, in Slovakia in Eastern Europe. The actual name of the trade was “joiner” because of the skill in seamlessly joining pieces of wood together to make a finished piece of furniture.

Larry was one of six children, but he was the only member of the family who showed an interest in learning the woodworking skills his father had mastered. Starting at age 10, Larry spent hours in the family garage with his Dad, who was glad to take the time to teach him. His first big project was a rocking chair he made for his mother. Through this piece, he learned to use saws, lathes, hand tools, spoke shaves and sanders and began to grasp the techniques of fine woodworking. He never planned to follow the trade as he had aspirations to a higher education…but he was good at it.

#2 The Educator

Larry gained his BA in Philosophy at Loyola University in Los Angeles in 1967. He went on to earn an M.A. in Psychotherapy at Ball State, and M.A. in Educational Psychology at Loyola Marymount and a Ph.D in Educational Psychology from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He also served in the US Air Force, stationed in England.

After his service and armed with his post graduate studies he made a living as the author of intelligence tests. He was then asked to create a test for skills in preschool children. He created the test, but soon realized that the test results were only going to be useful if there was a concrete apparatus that the children could use to improve their skills. He thought that a tactile approach would work the best.

So in his spare time, Larry set up shop in his garage and began work on a product to help children learn the alphabet in a physical way. The idea was to create a manipulative learning tool that would guide the child’s hand in the creation of alphabet letters. He called it “Motor Letters.” It was a simple product with a wood button that could be moved through a track forming the shape of a letter. It was simple and beautifully made and it worked for the kids who used it. This product became the beginning of a new company.

The Motor Letters were a success. Teachers bought them and children successfully used them throughout the country. Larry graduated from his garage into a small factory in Torrance, California and set up the equipment to begin manufacturing on a large scale. He called the business Tag Toys. He had a new career.

Over a period of 30 years, the business has grown and moved and now occupies a large modern factory in Compton, California, Tag Toys makes over 200 different educationally oriented manipulative products for young children (ages 1 to 6). They all express Larry’s philosophy and knowledge of learning and grew out of his Educational Psychology background.

The Tag Toys website is

#3 The Fisherman

Larry learned to fish as a child. His grandmother, Susan, took him out to the fishing pier in Redondo Beach, California and taught him what to do. In later life, he decided to take fishing more seriously and began a series of long-range fishing trips with his wife Judy. He went to Clipperton Atoll in the Eastern Pacific, the Aleutian Islands, Venezuela and Midway Island, Panama and Costa Rica. He was after “the fish of a lifetime.” In Dutch Harbor, Alaska, he landed a 295-pound Halibut in about 30 minutes using a Trilene Knot (one of the knots in the booklet).

The trip to Clipperton was a 7-day journey by boat and Larry spent most of those days learning to tie Fishing Knots. He was sitting at a table with the fishing reel in front of him, reeling out pieces of line. It was inconvenient and a hassle. The reel would roll around with the rocking of the boat and kept falling off the table. He began to think about a better way to learn the skill. At home, he began to develop a device that made it easier for him to learn how to tie the knots. The result was the Desktop Fishing Knots set.

In this product, we see the combination of Larry’s three lifelong dedications…woodworking, teaching and fishing. It was a natural outgrowth of his skills and interests that can now be shared with you.

The Story Continues...

Larry continues to operate Tag Toys, he lives in Westchester, California with his wife Judy, and, at every opportunity, takes his grandchildren out to teach them how to fish.

"Desktop Fishing Knots is a perfect gift for a fisherman. I like to practice my knots while I'm on long telephone calls. Every angler should have Desk Top Knots on their desk!" Pete Gray, Producer/Host
Let's Talk Hookup Fishing Show