Saturday, February 8, 2014

NC Fly Fishing Show 2014

I don't know if it's the weather or how my work has been lately but I have been feeling kind of blah. I didn't have the same excitement and anticipation I usually have for the Fly Fishing Show. I was hoping to find something new to give me a jolt of fly fishing excitement. After doing a few laps I was a little underwhelmed. I was hoping to see something new and as I slowed down and started to really comb the different booths I did find some interesting things. 

I had walked by the Wildscape booth a few times and saw that there was an aquarium on a table but it looked like it was filled with plants and possibly crayfish. A table near the aquarium featured some jewelry. When I looked closer and talked to the woman manning the booth I realized the jewelry I was looking at was actually caddis casings. The aquarium didn't contain crayfish at all, it actually had live caddis that were in the process of building casings.
I thought this was pretty neat but wondered if it was right. The person doing this wasn't trying to be malicious or exploit the caddis. I mean they are just insects right? Still they are living things and I wasn't sure of the ethics behind taking an animal from it's natural habitat to use for your own gain. The owner has a background in biology and after talking to her more I realized she has a love for these critters. Reading Wildscape's website I found that the owner created a simulated stream and uses this as a way to farm caddis.
Once the caddis do their thing and are adults she lets them go. 

Then not even 2 booths away I ran into Brad Mcminn. He is an artist based in Asheville, NC and his work is very striking.
The style of his art is amazing and I had a hard time walking away. I talked to Brad for quite a bit and he seems to be a very humble and talented guy. Which is a surprise when every other person walking by his booth tells him how awesome his work is.
It really was amazing and I hope to buy one of his prints soon.

What I love at the fly shows is running into friends and people you might not meet if there wasn't an event like this. At one point it was like a small blog convention. There was Mike from Mike's Gone Fishing talking with Cameron from TFM and Lance who is with Lance Milks Fly Fishing. It was great to finally meet Cameron face to face. I sat through his presentation on innovations in the fiberglass industry and I'm very interested in jumping on this whole glass bandwagon.

Probably my favorite part of the fly fishing show is talking with the tiers. There was two in particular that really impressed me. Cliff Benson and Max Stevens have a company called Pursuit Flies. These guys are only 17 but seem to have really gotten it together. I wish I was that ambitious as a teenager.
It's great to see someone doing what they love and being able to make it fund their passion. 

What I realized is the marketing part of the fly fishing show had gotten dull for me. I was now going for the connections with friends and the opportunity to meet new people. The fly fishing world is really a small group of people. If you talk to someone long enough you'll find they probably know someone you know. The only reason for this connection is fly fishing. This situation happens every year. I talk to a certain tier, they tell me where they're from and I ask them if they know this person. Then I see what I like to call the "look." It's always a funny look kind of like yes I do know that person and it's weird you'd bring them up. Then there's always the following look of understanding.  A look of well why wouldn't you know them they love fly fishing. In the grand scheme of things we're a small bunch.

11 comments:

  1. Kevin, you just mentioned all the reasons I love the Fly Fishing Show.

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    1. I think it's why most of us attend nowadays.

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  2. Spot on, Kevin. Good seeing you and I agree that the Pursuit guys were most impressive. Need to have a dozen of their Mr. Claws myself.

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    1. They reminded me of Loften. Makes me wonder how many teenagers out there are on the verge of making it big in the fly fishing industry.

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  3. Sorry I missed you this year. I actually think it was smaller than the Asheville show but the highlight was meeting great people and the lectures. For a guy fed up with winter - it was a shot in the arm. Tomorrow I'm hitting the stream before the next big storm rolls through.

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    1. I saw your post. I still have yet to catch a fish this year. The weather keeps jacking with me.

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  4. In a very strange coincidence, I ordered some caddis jewelry from Wildscape last Friday to give Kelly for Valentine's... hope you can keep a secret, Fortunately, Kelly doesn't read fly fishing blogs. Kathy, the proprietor of Wildscape, told me she was going to a show in NC for the weekend, and she could ship early this week to arrive by V-day... but I wouldn't have guessed her "show" was The Fly Fishing Show. In addition to the obvious connection to fly fishing, Kelly got her Master's in Biology studying small stream macroinvertebrates. She's painstaking looked at a whole bunch of caddisflies (and other aquatic insects) under a microscope- she identified and counted over 40,000 during her research, but hopefully she'll enjoy wearing their handiwork more than looking at them in the lab.

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    1. Jay, I'm glad to see other people are appreciating what she does. She seems to have done a ton of research like you said. I'm sure your wife will love the jewelry. It's a cool idea and a special gift.

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    2. When I mentioned the Master's in Bio, and counting all those caddis under a microscope, I was talking about my better half (Kelly). She's an aquatic entomologist by training, but she currently teaches biology at a high school for advanced level students. I don't know much about what Kathy (Wildscape) has done as far as research goes. I've never even had a conversation with her... just a few e-mails and such. I simply found her by googling "caddis jewelry." I've known about caddis made jewelry for a while, but there don't seem to be many people out there doing it. I think it's really cool, and I know Kelly has really wanted a piece for a while.

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  5. Kevin, Sorry we didn't get the chance to talk a bit. As usual the booth was busy and I spent both days answering a ton of questions. We need to get on the water together this year!

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  6. Of your Caddis casings, I remember an old Yoda with a salmon pole (yea, I know the correct nomenclature, this was a POLE). Had a fly tied below a 2 oz triangular lead weight. He had a tiny fly that was made of "sock yarn" woven with a small tuft of black hackle at the eye. Yanking fish out like there was no tomorrow and laughing at the Orvis crowd. Being somewhat humbled I asked him what the secret fly was. He told me "don't just study the bug, study the bug's house and what he uses to build the house". I've learned that using woolen sock yard tied in this same manner with different colors fit to the river or creek can be deadly.

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