The big retail fly fishing show in Salt Lake
is over, with lots of wonderful neat things the
manufacturers hope we can't live without! Well,
JC and I both have sore feet (and maybe shin
splints) and we did see a lot of neat stuff.
My intent here is to give an
glimpse of the choices your local fly shop had
available at this show. Keep in mind there is
another show for retailers toward the end of September in
Denver. Check out the
Product Reviews for JC's, Al Campbell's and my 'Pick of
Many of the vendors booths try
to have some kind of a gimmick or visual to catch
your eye - and at least slow the buyers down enough
to look at their goods. My favorite is the Chernobyl
Chicken produced by Hugh Spencer. We have known Hugh
and Vicky since we lived in Montana. They are the owners
of Spencer's Hackles in Plains Montana,
really nice folks, who have worked hard at improving the
quality of their birds. Spencer's Hackles are considered
premium fly tying hackles, and sell for less than the
other big names. I like to buy my feathers from nice,
hard working folks who seem to have the same values and
standards as we do.
Speaking of gimmicks, there has
been talk in our Chat Room about a certain ad for
Belazia Vises - well, two ads. The ads
are also posters! And the woman in the ad/poster, Janet,
is a partner in the business. Yes we did meet her. The
vices are very small, beautifully finished, like a
piece of fine jewelry. The other partner Bruce,
(not in the ad) has offered to do a fly of the week
for us in the near future.
Shim Hogan, owner of Angler's
Choice had an aquarium with a streamer placed in
the water so it was moving into the water's flow. The fly
was similar to one we use here for salmon, but instead of
using polar bear hair (which is difficult to find) utilizes
a synthetic material, Poly-Bear Hair, with a bit of flash already
incorporated. Showing the fly in the water and moving was
a stroke of genius. This stuff really looks great! We will have
that fly with instructions here soon. This photo was taken
through the glass tank.
While walking the aisles, I spent
a few minutes with Jim Murphy, President of Redington.
Jim has agreed to be a guest in our Chat Room in the
near future. Watch the Chat Sign-On Page for a date. We have
been supporters of Redington in the past for their sensible
approach of moderately priced rods, especially for entry level
anglers. I am disappointed to see them now come out with a
high-end rod. Priced in the same range as the 'other' big boys.
Neither G.Loomis, Orvis, or Umpqua
were at the Salt Lake Show. And while there may have
been others who choose not to make a showing there,
they seemed to be the most invisible. Except that each
had 'representatives' walking the aisles, presumably
checking things out.
Al Campbell introduced me to Rainy
Riding, owner of Rainy's Flies and Supplies
from Logan Utah. Rainy is a master fly tier,
as well as innovator. Check out the
Fly of the Week this week for something entirely
different! Rainy also has a complete line of foam
products and the hottest, brightest paints for
poppers I have ever seen. You don't have
to rely on cork bodies for poppers anymore - she has
the answers in foam.
Sage was present,
and I asked Randy Swisher (who some of you may remember
was a guest a while back in the Chat Room) what was the
best of their new line for this year. With a big smile
he handed me a new pack rod! This one comes with six pieces,
one being an extra tip! The one I cast was a 5 wt, and
had the axial reel and Sage line. It was a bit heavier
than a 2-piece rod would be, understandable since it does
have the extra ferrules, but cast very nicely. For the
person traveling a lot, or one who is backpacking it would be a
super rod. In the 5 wt, (8ft - 9in) the total tube length is 23 3/4
inches. The new SP pac rod comes in 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 weights,
and retails at $685.00.
While waiting a turn to cast on one
of the indoor ponds, I had a chance to chat with Tom McCullah
from Cortland. Cortland recently purchased
the Diamondback Rod Company, adding that fine rod to their
line. Cortland has made some other very interesting changes.
As Tom put it, they have a fine well received name and it
seemed logical to provide a more complete line of products
to their dealers. To that end, Cortland has purchased
Sea harbor, a terrific line of fishing wear at a moderate price,
and the Turrall Fly Company which produces
high quality flies and their own hand-made, high-carbon hooks.
You might check out your local fly shops for these. It would seem to be a
super service to shop owners being able to order quality
products from one rep.
Our friend Tom Clinkenbeard, owner of
Elkhorn Rods keeps amazing us. We commented
last year on the fine quality of his rods, at a modest price.
He has done it again. Tom has produced a 2 piece, 7 foot,
6 inch 2 weight rod. Yes, a 2 weight! It is IM6 Graphite
and retails for about $150. Right on Tom! I personally applaud
him for continuing to produce 'Good Honest Rods' at a fair price.
Several organizations were at the show,
some to push for membership in their group, (T.U, FFF) others
to provide information. David Kumlien was there representing
the Whirling Disease Foundation with
information as was a group unfamiliar to me, Family Tyes.
Family Tyes is all about getting kids and families involved in fishing.
More on that soon. Their moto is "Every Fish A Trophy - Every Kid A Hero."
In today's world, one large challenge. We will try and help.
Something did happen that disturbed me.
I asked at one booth what new and neat products they were
offering and was handed a product to keep guides and fly
lines from freezing. I asked if the 'environmentally
friendly' coating had been approved by any of the major line
companies and was told, "yes, Cortland and AirFlo have both
tested it and it is approved." So with the product in hand
I went to both Cortland and AirFlo and asked about the product.
Several people at both companies told me they had never seen
the product nor tested nor approved it. Obviously you will
not see that product here. Shame on them.
One of the highlights for me at this show
was meeting Davy Wooton. Davy is a Brit, (living in the Chicago
area,) and owner of SLF Dubbing. He is a
suburb fly tyer, as well as caster. I had the pleasure of standing
on the sideline watching him cast on one of the large casting ponds
at the show. Standing to his right was a young guy literally abusing a fly rod.
Just ripping a double haul, very fast, and not casting that
proficiently or well. Davy stood there, gracefully casting
and dropping the fly over the black curtain at the end of the pond,
(100 feet) with no visible effort. ( He was casting a Gatti.)
The hot-shot next to him, who as Castwell would say was, 'ripping his
shorts' (along with the rod) walked away shaking his head. Davy is
a pro in every sense of the word.
The other neat thing was someone asked
if I would do an interview. Wow! Maybe we all do get our
15 minutes of notoriety. My interview with Tom Wharton of
the Salt Lake Tribune was fun and a neat experience. You can
see the results on the
Salt Lake Tribune website.
We saw lots of old friends, made some new ones,
shared some laughs, and brought some new ideas back. You will see
more in the future. It really was a great show. Well worth the effort.
~ Deanna Birkholm