Last weekend I attended the 20th International Fly Tying Symposium in Somerset, New Jersey. It was a great time, and I learned a great deal as well as bringing home a pile of nice material. It's the first time I've attended a show like this, but I'll definitely be looking to attend more. Seeing so many experts in one place, it was impossible to walk away without learning something.
I got the chance to talk with many of the tyers, and those were the times when I learned the most. Being able to ask how or why a particular technique was used is something that you really miss out on when you go to YouTube. Also, the simple ability to check out a fly from all angles really helps the learning process. I learned without ever asking a question, just by inspecting ties from all angles. It's definitely a show that I'd recommend any tyer to attend.
There were also several vendors there, selling all kinds of material and equipment, and it was a nice change of scenery compared to the usual selection at local shops.
The show seemed to be dominated by one of three types of tying: classics, realistics, and synthetics. While some may have found this disappointing, I think that, alternatively, a room full of tyers refilling their nymph boxes with PTs and scuds would have been utterly boring (there's a reason you put it off until you absolutely have to). Those three fields are the logical progression of technique, artistry, and innovation carried to their fullest extent.
Since my new camera (more on that in a later article) was here but it's new lens was not (I'm looking at you, Adorama), I only had the Pentax with me for the weekend, and the lack of the new toy put a serious damper on my zest for photography. That being said, I still managed a few shots, which I'll share below.
As with most of my reactions to major events, here's the high points and (pretty marginal) low points:
Low Points (not many)
- Vendor booths quite crowded on Saturday, making it hard to check everything out
- Using a Fish-skull in place of a conehead is not innovative or original, its just a minor enhancement
- How about a few signs to remind people not to bump or lean on the tables while the tyer is trying to tie a fly?
- The lighting in the room really stinks for such a visual event
- Spanish CDL wet flies
- Being able to watch a classic being tied, asking questions along the way
- Materials you don't see at your friendly local fly shop, and being able to inspect them in person
- Making contacts beyond a simple customer making an order