Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Inside the Fly Fishing Show at Somerset NJ

I really had not planned on going into the fly fishing show at Somerset last weekend. I figured I would be at the PHWFF booth the entire time. Turns out there were more volunteers than needed and we all had a chance to take a break and wander around. Here is what I encountered during the breaks over the 3 day event.

There were all sorts of fly tying material vendors, rod and reel vendors, soft goods sellers, outfitters and guides, boat companies, line and gadget companies, celebrity tiers, and books and more. I got lost several times going up and down the isles.

I bumped into my old boss Crosby Beane on the first day. He is now with Hardy & Grays. I have not seen 'coach' in several years and he saw me and immediately called me 'Cinderella'. Just like the old days. Lefty passed me walking down an isle and I had a chance to speak with Emily Whitlock. Wow. This place was full of all the big names.

I was stopped by the fishing magazine companies and was able to renew my subscriptions. I am now getting 3 years each of Fly Fisherman, Fly Tyer, Fly Fish America, and Fly Rod & Reel. 

I walked around and bumped into lots of old friends. I had several long talks with Beau Beasely. We talked about his book, fly fishing in Virginia, the Va fly fishing festival, and getting out on my boat and fishing together. That would be a first in the 12 years that I've known Beau. His new book Fly Fishing the Mid Atlantic is very informative, with great maps and photographs. I suggest you pick it up at your local fly shop.

Mick Heck is a long time friend too. He used to do early morning talks at the fly shop where I worked. He would make the long drive to the store and entertain us with his spring creek stories. I still have some flies he tied for me in '99. A moth, some ants, and a few deer hair beetles. Mike was tying flies and selling his  new book. One of the nicest guys you will ever meet. Looking forward to seeing him at the National Capital Trout Unlimited show in a few weeks.

Next up was Captain Paul Dixon. Paul was a flats guide at the shop I worked at in Key Largo from '99-'00. He is incredibly knowledgeable in all things salt water. Paul was a the Rise Fishing Company booth. Very nice looking rods, felt great in the hand. They give back 20% of profit to charity.  Paul has been gracious enough over the past decade to answer e-mails I have sent. I have been to the Keys and up to Long Island and he has always given me great information on where and when to fish and some hidden spots. We caught up about the demise of the shop we worked at on the Ocean Reef Club. We had some good laughs and I got some great info as to why the shop had closed. It did not surprise me.

I bumped into the Davala family. Melody, Virginia, and Dan. They made the drive up from Va.

On my bucket list of people I want to meet has always had Dave Whitlock on the top. I finally got a chance to meet Dave. He had a firm handshake and was like the grandfather you never knew. I bought a print from him on the last day and he signed it. It would have been signed to our upcoming daughter but we have not decided on a name for her yet.

I bumped into Dave several times in the hotel and got all giddy. I am such a huge fan of his artwork, innovations with development of raising trout from eggs, his innovative fly patterns, and so much more.  Take a listen to Zach's interview with Dave and Emily. I stopped by Dave's booth several times over the weekend to watch him sketch. He was working on a print of a largemouth bass leaping out of the water to a mouse. His drawing was so effortless, minimal lines that gave form to a fish. His hands were so steady too. It reminded me of a video in art class in high school where Pablo Picasso had a paintbrush and black paint. He painted 7-8 lines on a piece of glass and it formed a bull. So simple yet distinctive. I could have watched Dave all day. That was a huge milestone in my fly fishing life.

Another fan stopped by and had an article from a book published in 1977. Dave remembered the article and signed it. We all  had a good laugh that the book was old and pages bleached by the sun and the fact that I was the same age as the book.

I stopped by to talk to Crosby once again and had a chance to talk to Andy Mill. Everyone else there was going to talk to him about fly fishing. I talked to him about his brief cameo in the movie Aspen Extreme. 

Enrico Puglisi was a character. He thought I worked for the FBI since I was taking pictures. He didn't seem to want to talk to much. I asked him about his products and materials and he briefly stated that he made them all and would  not tell me more. He answered his cell phone when I was asking him questions and telling how I thought he was very creative. He didn't seem too interested in talking to me. It was rather rude and I didn't return to his booth.

I had a a long talk with Tracey Stroup who had a booth across from us. She is married to Eric Stroup. 
What a fun couple. I hope to see Tracey at a PHWFF event as she has volunteered her services. I was jealous of Tracey for being able to stick to a healthy diet during the weekend. She worked on protein shakes and bars while we all ate fried and nasty crap. Eric tied some great nymph patterns at his booth. I think his football team is in the super bowl,  he was wearing a big ben jersey.

The opposite of the Puglisi experience was meeting Olli Ojamo of Eumer tube flies. Ollis sat down with me and went through his whole product list and why their brand of tube flies are better than others. Olli spent several minutes going over their vise, materials, and how to produce a tube fly. He took time and effort and I was very impressed. They tie some serious tubes and have an arsenal of materials. Its a bit too much for me as I tie simple tubes. I got a whole new perspective on tube flies and Finn raccoon. I had never tied with the material but am now willing to use it. Olli tied a very neat fly. Very few wraps with clean and tight stacks of material over material.

His companies system is very easy to use and each set of materials is pre-packaged for simplicity. I will endorse his company to my clients who want to get into tubes. He let me keep the fly he tied when he was done.

This was the other tube fly company. Again, lots of materials and products for their system. However they did not spend the time and effort with me. Lots of colors and varieties of materials. 

As I was walking there was one tier who stood out against all the rest. Lots of people were tying standard big water stripers flies, realistic looking spiders and stoneflies, midges, and nymphs. Sure there were some colorful deer hair patterns but nothing like Kevin Arculeo's flies.

From the Somerset show site: 
Kevin Arculeo:  Kevin Arculeo guides north of Atlanta, GA on Lake Sidney Lanier focusing on land-locked Stripers and Spotted Bass. He has also guided on the Chattahoochee River and several other trout streams in North Georgia.  Kevin's fishing obsession began as a small child. He spent his adolescent life in central and south Florida pursuing Largemouth Bass. He bought his first fly rod at age 12 using Green Stamps and caught several nice bass with it, but during that time, Kevin used mostly conventional tackle. In 1993, he discovered his true love for fly fishing during his first fly fishing trip to Colorado. He's been obsessively hooked ever since. As an accomplished fly tier and casting instructor, Kevin is often called upon to teach fly tying and casting for adults and children. Several of his flies and instruction on how to tie them have been published -- including a feature in Saltwater Fly Fishing magazine. Kevin is on fishing guide programs with Sage Fly Rods, Rio Fly Lines, Tibor Fly Reels, TFO, Action Optics, Redington, Minn Kota (Johnson Outdoors), Lowrance Electronics, and Sea Hunt Boats. To see more information about Kevin go to

When I saw these flies the first thing I thought of was snakeheads. His flies are tied out of 4mm craft foam and onto a string of bead chain. I had wanted to sit down and watch Kevin tie one but our schedules conflicted. This was the most clever set of flies I had seen at the entire show.

At night I had the pleasure of sitting down with Marla Blair and talked fly fishing. She is a lovely lady and quite knowledgeable. I hope one day to be able to take clients to locations as she does. From Patagonia to Canada. Due to my PHWFF schedule I was unable to attend her talk.

I had dinner with the guys from Temple Fork Outfitters on Saturday night. I was able to thank them for their donations to PHWFF and we all told stories from getting hooks stuck in random body parts to rod flexes and function etc. I really want to get my hands on their Deer Creek 11' 6wt switch rod. If I could get the PHWFF logo on it too that would be a bonus. On a side note, the hotel bar was so cold, I was able to see my breath!

Simon from Rio Products was at their booth. I was able to stop by and thank him for their customer support. They replaced my shooting head line after the plastic coating came apart after a few fishing trips. I will admit that I still don't fully understand how a fly line is broken down by segment based on weight and function. There is a lot of physics going in there. More power to them as they understand it and can answer any questions you have. Don't believe me? Call Rio if you want to buy a fly line. Tell them what make and model rod you will use, where you will fish, what species you will target, and the flies you will use. They will put you on the exact fly line.

I found the round rubber legs at eflytyer and purchased the whole lot. Those will be used to tie piles of scorpion bugs for the summer.

One of the best conversations I had was with Conway Bowman. I told him my name and that it was like Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs. And that if you Google me for some reason there are all these pictures of Rob Lowe and Snow White and I was not sure why. That was a great conversation piece as Conway stated that was his sister. His twin sister and Rob Lowe did an intro to the Oscars several years ago. Now I know why that search always appears.

Trent Jones and Dalton Terrel from Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders and I had a long conversation with Conway about fishing for mako sharks, fishing San Diego, and the next generation of fly anglers. One of the nicest guys at the show and willing to share stories and information. Conway was there to promote his new Orvis book. I am hoping he might be able to lend some helpful information to someone new to the business as myself. We invited Conway to come fish the Tidal Potomac with us if ever in our area.

It was great to talk to the guys at Angler's Inn in Harpers Ferry, WV. We have made some plans to fish together this spring and summer. One of the guides was familiar with the Mountain Lake Lodge where I worked from 2002-2003 before it was burnt down.

Another group I spoke with was out of Steamboat Springs, Co. I can't seem to find their card but will post their information soon. We have a lot of friends in common as THW used to live in Steamboat.

Per my previous post, I spoke with Quentin from Fish Pimp. He developed a tent waterproofing formula that is now used on flies. Some creative products and I look forward to using them this spring.

And after a fun talk with Brian from Clear Cure Goo, I decided to go with his product for my patterns over the competitors. Reminds me I need to send a check out to him today.

Some random images of the weekend:

Collins Hackle Farm.
I sniffed around the fly tying booths to get an idea of who had the materials I was looking for: bright green round rubber legs, chartreuse peacock plumes, and chartreuse super hair. I got a massive pack of super hair and some great ostrich plumes from Cotes Fly Shop
The largest rotating fly drier I have ever seen.
Tier Scott Cesari


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