What better way to spend a Saturday morning than with a few hundred other fly fishing fanatics browsing new gear, talking about fly designs, and listening to guys that have literally written the book on fly fishing techniques. This past weekend I was fortunate enough to have a few hours to make the trip up to Ashville NC for the Western NC Fly Fishing Expo. My wife dropped me off and headed out to do her own shopping in town and left me to my own nirvana. As a benefit to you, I thought that I would share a few of the highlights with those that were unable to make the trip.
Right off the bat I saw a bunch of guys I was looking forward to chatting with.
The guys of Southern CultureOn The Fly – SCOF – had a booth right near the front of the expo and throughout the day the place was humming.
I have been reading this new Ezine since its first publication and love the take these guys have on fly fishing. Toss out the old ideas you have of the classic mags and get ready to embrace the new breed of fly angler. These guys aren't the snooty 'dry fly only' fly anglers and the design and style of their mag shows it. One of their logos has a skull with a fly on the brain for crying out loud. So if you want a younger take on fly fishing with a clear rebel punk feel then you need to check them out.
Another booth I couldn't shy away from was one run by artist Jim Wiley. A fish carver extraordinaire, Jim's work was not only unique but so well done that I swear I saw one of those brookies last week while fishing a hidden stream.
Jim took these burled root knots of wood and transformed them into wonderful pieces of art. It is truly fantastic stuff and if you have a minute click over and check his stuff out.
After making the first round trip to survey the lay of the land I settled into chair to listen to a lecture by renown fly fishing expert Kelly Galloup. As a guy that loves to fish streamers and have caught 'the drug of the tug' so to speak, Kelly's 'Tactics For Modern Streamers' lecture was one I was really looking forward to. In short it didn't disappoint. Fantastic advice and techniques for fishing the big streamers for big fish.
The energy and obvious knowledge Kelly gave during the lecture no doubt opened the eyes of many of the classic anglers in the audience and after it was over I couldn't help myself and made my way over to his corner to pick up his co-authored book -Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout-. After a brief talk I got him to sign it and couldn't wait to crack it open. As of right now I am nearly done with it and happily recommend it to anyone looking to bump their streamer fishing to a whole new level. As an added bonus you might want to check out Kelly's impromptu video on youtube where he has a big brown take two small trout he has hooked before he finally switch over from a nymph to a streamer and hooked him – and himself in the process.
Another great stop was the True Flies booth. Granted, I am not a big salt guy due to pure geography but if I lived on the coast I can guaranty that I would have my own skiff, a nice big hefty fly rod, and a load a flies that would dwarf the midge box. In fact, after my first experience last year fishing Redfish, Seatrout, and Ladyfish near Tampa FL, I am hooked and can't help but bring the gear anytime I come near the beach. Coming all the way from Florida, True Flies offers some of the best top quality clothing on the market. Complete with great designs and some very fine material – True Flies clothing line offers a much better alternative to all the Guy Harvey stuff you see on the market. I had a good time talking to them and could tell these guys are much more than another vender at a show. These guys are anglers offering great stuff for fellow anglers.
Of course there was the standard collection of dream gear, fly rods and reels including Hardy and Abel to tempt a guy with cash in his pocket but I managed to force myself to 'test' them out only and leave the purchasing for a later time when my mind was a bit more rational. The excitement of so much fly fishing stuff in one place tends to open places in your wallet that normally would be sealed up tighter than the space shuttle before a launch.
Another booth I was looking forward to was the one ran by the Southern Trout online magazine. More on the traditional side, this mag offers a wealth of information every angler in the south should read. Every issue is jam packed with years of knowledge from guys fishing the back country and legendary rivers of the south. I had a great conversation with the publisher – Don Kirk -and its good to know that such a mag is run by guys that have a true love for fly fishing and are more out to share their love of the sport than just make a buck. If you ever plan to fish trout in the south then you need to check them out.
And finally while I was wandering around for the fourth circle of the booths, I spotted a guy with a shirt on I recognized instantly. I had heard rumors that Cameron from the Fiberglass Manifesto would be at the show so when I spotted him I had to stop and finally meet the guy I had been swapping emails and blog comments with for years. If you fish glass then he is the only source you need to know about. Check him out and fill your rod holder with glass.
When it was over and I had made the rounds for a fifth time, I called the wife and told her to come get me before I spent any more money. With a backpack of goodies and a smile, I headed home to watch my Irish give me yet another heart attack. It was a great show and I was happy to have attended.