As I mentioned last month Laura and I went to the Federation of Fly Fishers Conclave in Livingston, MT. For those who have never attended one I will try to give you a brief outline of the show. The primary focus of the conclave is education.
There are some 120 classes that you can attend. Topics cover everything from casting and fly tying classes, to how to row a drift boat and guided fishing trips. Each of the instructors is top rate and is very good at their specialities. Names like Joan Wulff, Mel Kreiger, Bob Jecklin, and Al Beatty were a few of this year's instructors. Laura and I taught a class called: " Hi-Tech Trout Flies."
\There are also some 150 fly tiers from all over the world at the show. Each demonstrates a fly or 2 of their own local area or a fly they are well known for. Some of the demonstrators included: Royce Dam, Judy Lumberg and Henry Hoffman. All of the tiers are unique and have a few unusual, interesting way of doing things. Scott Sanchez of Dan Bailey's spun a deer hair man eating shark complete with strung pearls for teeth. He cut out and attached a half eaten victim out of foam and put a little blood on it with a marker. Very funny!
\By far the coolest was Don Ortez of Wyoming. Don owns a company called Fantasy Flies. Don ties all sorts of unusual things and the best was the largemouth bass wedding cake sculpture made of saltwater flexo tubing. Quite literally, this was a bass made for a cake! I tossed Don a bone and asked him if he had ever seen gorillas made of spun deer hair. Don proceeded to ask how it was made, where I saw it ect. I am hoping that next year when I go I will see an entire collection of zoo animals made of deer hair. Good luck Don! Heee-Heee! Little did he know I made it all up!
\By chance I also meet Leon Chandler of Cortland, NY at the show. Leon was all excited by the " Ithaca, New York" T-shirt I was wearing. Leon came up and said, " Ithaca! I just had to come and meet someone from Ithaca!" For those not in the local loop, Cortland is a town 20 miles north of Ithaca and is home to the famous Cortland Line Co. For many years Leon travelled the world promoting Cortland Line. His casting demos are legendary with Leon performing many casting tricks. Leon has been part of our local Fall Creek TU chapter in Ithaca for many years. It was ironic meeting one of our own 2500 miles from home!
I also ran into former the Minnesota fly fisher Ellen Clark. Ellen is now tying flies part-time for Gary LaFontaine's catalog " The Book Mailer." Ellen assures me that she is doing fine and doesn't miss 3M in the least or Minnesota winters. For those not acquainted with Ellen, she was a good friend of many members in my old club the Iowa Hawkeye Fly Fishers. Ellen quit her job in the twin cities and moved to Wyoming. She literally has a home on the range and tends to the horses on her ranch.
Another highlight of the show was spending some time talking with author Syl Nemes. Syl is well known for his books on soft hackles. I gave Syl a few of my wing pairs and also talked to him about a few of his favorite flies. We had planned to do some fishing on DePuy's Spring Creek but Syl, who is in his late 70's , was not feeling up to it.
Part of the show also contained several slide show programs. Many interesting topics are covered everything from Western Fly Fishing, to Flats Fishing and many types of how to fish for a specific fish program. About 60 dealers, foundations, retailers and outfitters were there selling or promoting various products. One of my favorite displays was the video from Montana Public TV which featured an entire program with last year's favorite: " the singing trout" . The trout had a fly pageant and then there was a segment about being "Hooked." A trout starts talking and says, " Poor Henry! It all started so innocently. First he nibbled at some worms and bait, then a few nymphs, soon he was on to emergers, then dry flies! Now he is gone."
A sad side note: Legendary Big Hole tier George Grant is now 90. I was told that he was recently moved to a nursing home. George's woven stoneflies are a thing of beauty and many admired his work for many years. George exchanged letters with me a few years ago and told me all about how he made his hair hackles. His kindness, thoughtfulness and love of Montana will never be forgotten. George sold his flies for many years giving all of his money to the Big Hole River Foundation to preserve the Big Hole for years to come. I may have a source that has a few of his flies left, I am still checking to see if I can find these. Email me for more info.
Laura and I spent the balance of our time in Montana fishing. We fished in the park along the Gibbon, Gardiner, Yellowstone, Gallatin and Slough Creek. We also fished DePuy's spring creek, the Yellowstone River, the Gallatin and the Boulder River. We loved the Gallatin and we also saw why Ted Turner is buying up all the land in sight. Bozeman is quickly becoming a suburb in the mountains and is likely to be another Denver. The fishing was slow, although we seemed to do best on hoppers, ants and large dries. Much of the area is dry and without water. We saw a large forest fire that spread and a fire camp complete with crews, helicopters and loads of equipment.
Laura and I had some time to see the International Fly Fishing Center and the Museum of the Rockies. We also saw wild life, toured Yellowstone National Park and shopped in about every fly shop we could find, doing our best to prop up the local economy. I managed to find a great cowboy hat in Bozeman at a real cowboy store! I also happened to find a few used books I have had on my list for some time at the International Fly Fishing Center's book sale.
I was at the Catskills last week. The Beaverkill is literally a walk way of paving stones! Low waters have basically shut down the streams recently. Rains this week should bring some relief and hopefully some improved temps and water flows.
All of the fishing has shifted to the West Branch of the Delaware and the main stem. The main stem flows have been running at about 1000 cfs and the temps are about 42 degrees. Look for Dortheas in the afternoons, some tricos, a few iconychias in the mornings and throughout the day. West Branch Anglers rents boats and will do a portage for $25 for those lucky few sporting new kayaks in search of water to explore. ( Phil and Rich!) For more info go to the West Branch Angler page at: www. mayfly.com.
Soon to Be New Stuff:
I ran into Tom Whiting of Whiting Farms Hackle at the FFF conclave. Whiting's new necks look sort of like a saddle, with hackles about 3-4 inches long ( more or less double or triple length). The necks will be sold this fall and are the super select grade, retailing at $125 each! The new midge saddles will tie down to 24's and those will weigh in at a hefty $70 for a grade 3!
I also talked to the folks from Mustad and looked at all of the new Signature series hooks. I should be adding these this fall sometime. The Signature hooks are similar to TMC and Daiichi hooks and feature a new box and new numbering system. Most of the hooks come in 25's and will sell for about $4.25 a pack.
Other Newer Stuff: The new product lists are due out in the next few weeks. Expect price increases in some Dyna King vises, all saddle hackle and some hooks. I will be adding loads of really new stuff as soon as I can figure out what I think will do well.
New Stuff which just arrived:
Stag Horn Combs: I picked up some nice stag horn deer hair combs which I will sell for $5.00 each. Griffin tools dropped the deer comb last season and this is handmade in China. Non-static too!
Whiting tailing Packs: I have had these for awhile. I get many requests for skater hackles and these can be used for that! They are coq-de-leon feathers in small packs. Ideal for spinners, tails and as hackle for cheeks on streamers. I have cream, black, rusty brown, dark speckled dun and speckled gold badger. $7.00
Hot C chain: This is a colored bead chain in flo colors: I have medium size with Black, Chartreuse, Orange, Pink for $2.50
Hot Cones: I have the colored cones on hand. Small, Med, Large, in Orange, Pink and Chartreuse. $3.00
American Woodcock wings: I found some pairs of these. The quills are dark dun, the backs are marbled and the underside is ginger. $4.00 a pair
Larva Lace Special: I am dropping Larva Lace: I will sell all packs off at 5 for $4.00. I send packs of stand tubing, D- rib and midge lace. My choice of colors and sizes. This is more than 1/2 off!
Metz Grade 3 Necks: Grade 3, Brown only. I still have a stack of these. Great for caddis and dries. Will tie to size 20 and below. $17.50
Keough saddles, grade 3: I have run this special many times and I can't get the giant bulk quantities I have sold before. I have ginger, barred dun, dark dun and a few blacks. These were $8 each, now 2 for $14.
#2 American Hun partridges: I picked up some of these and they are nice! A small part of the head is missing but each contains, the body, neck, wings and tails. Will tie to size 16 at least (maybe lower!). Elsewhere these are $18 or more! NOW $10 each or 2 for $18.
I will have several new flies which I picked up here and there while out west as a new page if I can get around to shooting the photos. I also will do a page of post cards I collected too! Jack Gartside will be impressed with this collection!
This message violates no known laws as far as I know. As usual if this bothers you, is too annoying or you would like me to delete you for any other reason, please let me know. It is not my intention to be a pain or hassle to anyone for any reason.
For more info contact: Badger Creek Fly Tying, 1408 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca, New York, 14850, call 607-266-0736 or email at Mike@eflytyer.com. Web site: www.eflytyer.com