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Sowbug 2006

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

It was my annual pilgrimage to this event. I went to this the first time about five or six years ago. I had been asking a lot of questions on the Virtual Fly Box email list. Tony Spezio suggested that I should come down to this tying event. He thought I should tie, but that I might learn a thing or two also. That has happened every year that I have been there.

I headed down on Thursday. That way I can go in and see what folks are doing Thursday afternoon, and also check into the motel. It is always fun to run into the people that you have meet before and to be able to meet new folks. The North Arkansas Fly Fishers do a very nice job of setting up and running this event.

I walked in and was greeted by the tying chairman. He grabbed my envelope, brown bag and the mug we got for tying at this event. The brown bag is a paper bag with some materials in it that everyone ties a fly, using only the materials in the bag. The flies are voted on for the favorite and then the collection is auctioned off. You do get to keep the rest of the materials.

I had not planned on buying anything there, but the red llama hair, a white-white llama hair and some wood chuck just called my name and said that I needed to take them home. I have wanted to tie a few patterns that use wood chuck and had just never gotten it. The llama will go into some Hares Ear type flies. After that I did not listen to the rest of the stuff that was calling my name. This was especially true at Denny's table. He has some gorgeous feathers there. I just have to use a bunch of stuff up before I indulge myself in those.

I did see Don Order there and got him to show me how to dub with rabbit fur. I had been able to do it with some other things, but not with the rabbit fur and he gave me a lesson on doing that. We had communicated via email and on the VAB email list but had never meet before. Don is a very nice gentleman and has a wealth of knowledge to share. He said he was looking for some penguin feathers to go with the polar bear fur he has to tie "bi-polar" flies. The rest of the time with him was just as much fun.

I went back to the motel when the show closed and looked at the materials that were in the brown bag and thought of the fly that I might tie with them. It was nowhere as original as some of the other flies that were dreamed up by some of the tiers at the show.

I went in Friday morning and set my stuff up and started tying some flies. I did the boa yarn leech, a woven gill bug, and an eight colored P.N. I ended up making a lot of the leeches and showing a lot of people how to do the crocheted weaving method.

I did get up and wander around some during both the morning and afternoon tying sessions. I got to see what some of the other tiers were doing. There were folks doing some wonderful, beautiful flies. A couple folks were tying Atlantic Salmon flies. Those creations are just plain gorgeous. Next year I am going to make sure I have some free time so I can set in front of them and just watch what they are doing. I did see some younger folks tying at the tables. I can tell you that the art of fly tying is in some very talented hands.

Friday evening is when the club puts on a bar-b-que for the tiers. This is a very good meal and a good chance to be able to visit with folks as you are eating. The had beef, pork, turkey, potatoes, baked beans, cold slaw, rolls, drink and dessert. If you went away hungry it was your own fault.

The ladies at the Abundant Life Center have food for lunch both days and some other goodies that you can get into. They are a very nice group of folks to be around and do all they can to make it a good time to be there. Just like a pot-luck at church, a lot of good food to be had.

I tied again on Friday and did up a bunch more flies. I was asked if I knew any other weaving methods and replied that I could do the Oliver Edwards method. I also told them that I had forgotten to bring any marabou or chenille with me. It is one of those memory things that happens to old folks. That was cured when one gentleman went down to a vendor and went through the bargain boxes. He came back with two packages of marabou and six colors of chenille. He plopped them down and told me that I now had materials to do it with.

So we tied up a couple of dozen woolly buggers showing the weaving method. Several folks were happy to learn it and thought the buggers were really neat. So, Parnelli, I have to thank you for the DVD that went around so I could learn this. A lot of other folks got the knowledge over the weekend. As the gentleman left, who got the materials, I tried to get him to take them. His reply was to use them for the other folks that came by. He said that it was what he wanted to do for the lesson in weaving and felt that it was a good deal for the flies that he was taking with him.

I did get to meet some folks from this board. I was in the Sow Bug swap, but had to spend some time at another place so I did not get to spend as much time as I wanted with the swapping group. But thanks to Mike for setting that up.

As the show ended on Saturday, I was getting my stuff packed when a couple of tiers came by and asked if I could go with them and show them how to weave. We went to their motel and I gave them lessons for about 45 minutes. They do need some help as they thought that I was a talented tier.

Several of us met to eat dinner together Friday night and then spent some time visiting with each other. I was again asked to teach some people how to weave and went to their room for a while. They got the method down fairly fast and then we just talked for a while.

After that it was time to hit the sack and get ready to head home. I was on the road by 5:45 in the morning. The trip back was fairly nice. I did see a lot of deer and turkeys as I got near home. I did not know that they were that numerous.

It was a very good weekend. I learned a few thing and I think I helped a few people learn a few things. It was just fun to be around the group.

I would encourage you to go to this event, or another like it, just for the amount you can learn in a short time. ~ Rick

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