North Arkansas Flyfisher SowBug 2002
FAOL Mini-Fish-In

By Denny Conrad

Having attended many shows in the past few years I have come to an understanding of what the key to a "Good One" is. It is all about people and how they are associated in some way or another with Fly Fishing. Whether they are fly tiers, fishermen, rod makers or just interested sportsman, it is about people.

I really enjoyed this recent "Show." It was not only a show for me but a time and place to put faces with names and really establish new friends and renew old friendships. I think everyone who attended left with a very good feeling. We all made many new friends. Below is me in my booth with Bob Nunley (caneman) on the left.

(left)Bob Nunley and Denny Conrad

Before the Sowbug many of the FAOL people planned on a get together. I offered to use my booth and provide a sort of "Central" with Log-in for any and all FAOL people to establish communications with each other. Listed below are their names and handles (if known by me) There may have been some who did not get into the book, and I apologize if I did not catch you.

    Larry Wallace (Tuber)
    Jim Moore (Flyfisher73)
    Richard Ross (hopper)
    Kim Boal (damselfly) (Thanks for my semi annual hug)
    Steve Crosby (biot midge)
    Gene Holland (why do I not have gene's handle??)
    Ed Kessey (K'mudge)
    Bruce Whittle (Bruce W)
    Bob Nunley (caneman)
    Dennis Conrad (Denny)
I know there were more FAOL members attending but things were constantly happening and just not time enough to see and do everything.

As for a report on the fishing. Let's just say the weather was not conducive to fishing at all. Both the White and the Northfork were constantly "running water," hydropower ya know. There was way too much water and I don't know of anyone who went out and actually caught fish. You know I always say it is not about catchin, but it's the fishin. We all know what "catchin" is, but the "fishin'" is spending time with friends, tying, swapping lies or tales.

I was very fortunate to add a face to one of my long time customers. I enjoyed sharing my lodging with Martin Westbeek. Martin is from the Netherlands and is one of the "World class tiers." I am sure he will provide us with a fly of the week, has been confirmed by LF. Watch for it as I know it will be a good one. I had private lessons, setting on the motel floor in the middle of the night, learning "new things" on the vise. By the way his vise is one of those very nice jobs, Law). I will never be the same again; they are more than you have heard.

Martin brought a cased set of flys (eleven) and gave to me for my collection !!! What can I say, they are all fantastic.

The group at Spezio's

Left to right: Left to Rt, Martin Westbeek, Skip Shorb, Jeff Hines,Tony Spezio, Denny, Jim Hatfield.

I always spend a lot of time at Tony and Dot Spezio's home. These are some of the finest friends one could ever want. Others who spent lots of time at the Spezio home were the following:

    Jeff Hines, TX soft hackle Master
    Skip and Mary Shorb from AR (master at making equipment, cane, flurled leader machines, etc) and tier.
    Jim and Fonda Hatfield from LA. Flurled leader manuf and fly tier
    Martin Westbeek

I must thank the Ladies as they kept the entire gang well fed at all times. Each one of them is a "Real Master" in the fixin' food department. All also give good hugs to old guys such as myself.

We had a great time and each one of us made our own flurled leaders on Skip's new machine. He made us do it ourselves, only providing corrections and encouragement from behind the operator. What fun! Thanks Skip. You have to see the automatic features this machine has. Fantastic!

Several tying vises were in operation at all times and everyone was sharing and learning. Jeff tied a beautiful Quill Gordon Wet for me while I watched. Yep, this one will go into my collection, as will the two he handed me as he got out of his car. A pair of Poly Rosborough soft hackle dress flys. What works of art.

Martin showed us all how to do the Wally Wing. (I had private instruction on this one). Watch for that on FAOL in the near future too.

So many different rods were cast that it would be impossible to name them all, mostly excellent cane.

There was a constant flow of fly fishing people in and out of the Spezio home. Almost all are FAOL people; some do not use the Chat Room but browse the site often. I have encouraged each of them to join us there.

There was a lot of casting and fighting the wind. Even though we did not have to release any fish, many very large ones were caught. (Lots of good stories!)

I am not sure of the numbers on fly tiers that tied at the Sowbug. I understand that there were over 100 this year. The tying started early each morning and vises were not put away until late afternoon.

Hats off to the North Arkansas FlyFishers for all of the work they put into the Sowbug and for having all of us to their show.

I would like to thank each and every one that made this week of my life, one of the more memorable ones. Thank you all. ~ Denny

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