This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
September 19th, 2005

Denver Show '05

I guess I fall into the category of fly fisherman. I don't think I know any fly fisherman who wouldn't go to a neat fly tackle show if they could. Being female, I probably should be more interested in a home decoration or garden show, but something about getting to see whatever all is available in our fly fishing world today really makes it a wonderful thing.

The big fly tackle show in the US is the annual one which this year was held in Denver, Colorado. There is also a major show in Europe every year, which this year was held in Warsaw, Poland.

Since we are 'working media' we were allowed to have cameras and take photos of whatever we wanted. In fact, we had a sticker on our show badges to prove it. I did see some people taking photos who were not supposed to be, but no one stopped them. That may fall under industrial espionage, but since I'm not running the show I'll keep my mouth shut.

For the past several years, the late Al Campbell always had his "Pick of the Show" - honoring that tradition, if you will allow me, here is what Al would have picked:

Pacific Fly Group has a reputation for very good quality at very modest prices. Al's pick for sure as a company, but specifically, a very soft lightweight set of top and bottoms to wear under breathable waders. 100% polyester fleece, static free, the top is a half zip, and the bottoms have a cord and elastic waist band, two side pockets, also static free with stirrups to keep them from riding up. Suggested retail on each piece is $19.99! They also have really nice shirts, vests, shorts and a wide selection of flies. Ask about them at your local fly shop.

One of my very favorite things about attending these shows is the ability to cast new fly rods. This year was no exception. In most cases the manufacturers know me and I can just ask what they are excited about, and what would they like me to cast.

I did cast what I consider to be an outstanding rod, but since JC will be writing about it later I'll just say look out for the British companies Hardy and Greys in the near future. They are doing some exciting things and will soon have much more of a presence in the American market.

My Pick of the Show is a fly rod - and it may surprise you. The St. Croix Avid gets my vote! St. Croix has brought their exclusive Integrated Poly Curve (IPC) tooling technology to the Avid line. The rods are a green pearl finish with an ebony wood insert on the 2-6 weight rods. This is a moderately fast action rod, very smooth! I suggested to Jeff Schluter, VP of Marketing they market this rod especially to the warm water anglers, (Although the rod is made up to a 10 weight in Spey).

The rod I particulary liked was an 8 ft., 4 piece 5 wt. I hope to have one to take to the Idaho Fish-In. They also have a 9 ft. 6 wt. which was very nice. Price - $225.

Still in fly rods, TFO, (Temple Forks Outfitters) brought out two rods for me to try. Lefties' Finesse rod is made from 2 to 5 wt, intended for casting small dries, terrestrials and nymphs on meadow streams, limestone creek as well as spring creeks. Deep translucent olive with a rosewood insert it really is a very nice rod. Price is $179.95. The second rod is the new Teeny Rod for steelhead. TFO also introduced the new Bluewater Rods, a Light Duty in line weights 10 - 13, and the Heavy Duty, for line weights 14-17. There is a new reel to go with the bigger rods, by Hayden in three sizes. Retail on the reels run from $349.95 to $379.95 which includes line and backing. The photos below are Lefty, TFO owner Rick Pope and me.

Scientific Anglers has been a long-time supporter of this website, we've been fortunate to have the head of Sales and Marketing George Dierberger in our corner. We consider him a real friend.

You may recall we introduced Scientific Anglers L2L (Line to leader connection) system here on FAOL this year. One of the comments was it would be nice if somehow the system could be reused.

Scientific Anglers indeed did just that. The new system is called "Reconnect." It is not yet available in any stores, but stay tuned, we will be giving some away for you to test.

We spent some time with our friends from Frank Amato Publications, one of the exciting things due from them is a new book on the San Juan River. The author is Richard R. Twarog a professional photographer who retired from the madness of Hollywood where he had been involved in many name movies and tv productions. We had dinner with the Amato gang at Marlows in Denver and had an opportunity to visit with Richard and his wife Molly. The book is done with a different approach, five stories within the story. I missed seeing the galley, but really look forward to seeing the book early next year.

Marc Petitjean always has an interesting display - he has now come out with a plastic cone shape which fits over the head of a fly, to be used especially for streamers. The cone can be folded over the head, or reversed to impart action to the fly. He is marketing the flies in individual packages.

Two of our Sponsors ganged up and have their booths next to each other - it works very well for Rick (Oasis Tying Benches) and Dean (Wasatch Tying Tools) since their products really compliment each other. Rick has a couple new benches, one designed for production tying and another smaller one for travel. Both booths were very attractive.

One of the interesting new introductions was a carrying case for fly rods. Very well made, and similar to gun cases, the case holds four rods. Should be good for the traveling fly fisher.

Dr. Gill Sanders can do amazing things with his hands. After years as a pediatrician in Salt Lake City, Gill began hand carving trout from aspen logs. Carving trout was a way to combine his love of fly fishing with his need to create. Lovely work.

Smith Optical has been a long-time Sponsor here, and their booth was always busy.

Besides getting to cast the new Lou Tabory rods at Albright, (very nice saltwater rods) Albright has something I didn't think I would see - a multiplier reel. A multiplier winds in line at a much faster rate than a 'regular' reel and is a real arm saver on big fish!

Jason and Jim at Wind River/North Creek Cabin Company had a busy and colorful booth.

There is more, we'll tell you more as time goes on - but here's a sleeper to watch for. Diamondback has come out with a cane rod. Price range, $695, two tips.

We did get to see old friends, some are turning up in surprising places. Jack Charlton is working with Mark Vorobik (the new owner of what was formerly Harris Reels) to produce a better Solitude Reel. David Redington is about to introduce his new line of fly rods. Lou Tabory has promised to write some articles for us on conserving the striper fishing on the east coast, and we may have even found another new writer or two. We spent some time with Tom Helgeson, publisher of the Midwest Fly Fishing - we have known each other for some years now, but this was the first 'in-person' meeting. Tom is the one who dreamed up and produced the Great Waters Fly Fishing Exposition in Bloomington MN. That was special. Don Mears, owner of Flashabou brought a batch of new materials for us to play with - we'll take that to the Idaho Fish-In too.

There may be some really good things happening in the fly fishing industry - if they pan out, we'll be the first to let you know.

It was a great show, even though we felt attendance was down from two years ago when we were there last. We didn't get to see everyone we wanted to, just ran out of time. I'm really pleased we were able to go. ~ DLB

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