Feb 6, 2012

CFFA Fly Fishing Expo Review

This past Saturday was the annual Connecticut Fly Fisherman's Association's annual Fly Fishing expo and Banquet held in South Windsor, CT.  The CFFA Expo is a small local fly fishing expo that offers up vendors from the local fly fishing shops, local guides, Local Fly tiers, product reps as well as some great guest speakers.  All that good fly fishing fun and knowledge in one room for a general admission price of one US American dollar, this is a dollar menu worth ordering from.

Steve O and JT - JT's Fly Shop
JT and Steve O from my local fly shop - JT's Fly Shop - had a presence at the show and it is always good to support the local business as much as you can.  These guys have been a huge resource to me offering up free fly fishign and tying classes, answering all my crazy questions and of course willing to order up anything I need anytime.  JT's is a throw back to those mom and pop shops that understood what customers and customer service meant and to them you are not just a customer, but one of their fishing buddies.  I made sure to stick around and help them break down and load up after the show just to say thanks for everything they've done for me.

Loren explaining staying in contact with your flies
The featured guest speaker was Loren Williams from Fly Guy's Guide Service.  Loren is a guide with over 35 years of fly fishing experience, a member of the Fly Fishing Team USA and a coach of the US Youth Fly Fishing Team where he has fished and coached all over the world.  Loren is also an experienced Fly Tier, and was introduced to Team USA in the summer of 2005 when he was selected as  its first official fly tier for the 2005 FIPS-Mouche WFFC in Lycksele, Sweden.  So when a chance to hear someone with Loren's fly fishing credentials speak, you take it and I was glad I did.

Loren's presentation was on nymphing tricks but started out with a story that took place during a world competition across the pond where he watched a young girl with her fly rod in tow enter this pond and feverishly work to entice those big trout to bite her fly.  Watching this young lady brought Loren back to a time when he would sit there himself as a young boy trying to trick a bluegill or bass to bite.  Much of this enticing was related to making weird movements, starts and stops, twitches, hard splashing, anything you could do to make the fish take notice. I'm sure many of you that have fished as a kid can related to this, I know I did.  This led to the basic concept of Loren's presentation which was to think outside of the box from the typical dead drift presentation of nymph fishing.  Obviously when dry fly fishing, getting that perfect drag free realistic drift is important, when nymph fishing is it as important?  Loren's experience shows that there are many cases where that perfect natural nymph drift is not going to get the job done and something needs to happen to induce the fish to strike your fly - not new news for many, but it was a gentle reminder for us as fisherman to think out of the box.  Many time when mending the line to get that perfect nymph drift we get concerned about fly movement, but is it really an issue?  When nymphs are drifting along they are doing all kinds of crazy movements thanks to the different water dynamics they are drifting through.  They could be tumbling along the bottom, rising and lowering along the way or even shifting from side to side.

Loren's table was always busy
Loren discussed how under certain conditions and times that trout react to the splash of something hitting the water and immediately move to take whatever made the splash.   This is common when trout are hanging along banks or under trees waiting for bugs to drop into the water or fishing faster shallow water where the fish have to react quicker. Because of this immediate reaction to something hitting the water, you need to be ready to set the hook and that may require that you cast differently and more importantly stop your cast differently so you are ready for the quick take.   I've experienced this when casting buggers along a bank where the fish violently took the bugger as it hit the water only for me to be day dreaming and miss the hook up or not get a solid hook up.  Loren discussed a technique he learned from one of his coaches that was created just for these scenarios which basically involved setting the hook immediately or close to it just after your flies hit the water - cast, settle, set was how he described it.  Another technique he discussed had to do with setting the hook as your flies enter the spot you believe a fish to be.  That's right, setting the hook without feeling or seeing a take.  This hook set works to elicit a reaction strike from the fish.  This technique would be used many times after a few passes through with no takes and it worked. Interesting concepts  for sure and Loren said that using these techniques had increased their hookup rate greatly. 

One of the questions I have for my fly fishing readers is, have you ever incorporated any motion purposely to try and elicit a strike?  I know I have done so when fishing buggers and it included some slight lifting and dropping of the rod tip when drifting a bugger along, or a few twitches of the rod tip to make it dart or the old Leisenring Lift which was found to entice the fish to take the nymph as it was swept up to the surface like a natural nymph would. 

Loren took the time to answer everyone's questions and he even offered up some casting demonstrations out in the parking lot.  Lorean also turned me on Cortland's new Bicolor Mono sighter  material.  It looks very similar to the Jan Siman Bicolor sighter material that I'm using now, but the real test will come on the water when I get to test each of them in the same conditions and make my own determination.  I have already scrapped all my solid color mono sighters for the bicolor material as it just seems to work well under every condition.  I've found some claims on the web that the Jan Siman material is brighter then the Cortland material but is it enough to force me to stay with a product that is imported and only carried by a few places?  We will see.

I also got to check out the offerings from Fishpond as I am in the market for a new fly fishing vest.  As I continue to collect more and more gear, my current fishing vest isn't cutting it.  Not so much for the storage options, but comfort.  The Fishpond offerings are very comfortable, offer plenty of space and organization as well as adjust-ability.  One look at their offerings like this Wasatch Tech Pack and you realize just how far we come from your grandfather's fly fishing vest.

I'm always looking at fly boxes and and constantly re organizing and trying to find the right fit.  Of course what I should concentrate on is carrying just one box and a small one at that, but like my dad always says - you can't use it if you don't have it.  It's hard to beat these little Grey's GS Fly boxes as they are durable and come at a very nice price point, but I think I might have found a winner in Umpqua Pro Guide Fly Boxes.  The lids were extremely secure and rumor is they are waterproof.  Being as vertically challenged as I am, everything gets wet when I fish so if they are truly waterproof that would be a huge plus alone for me.  Some included little magnetic sections for those pesky tiny flies. 

One last bright spot from the expo was getting a chance to meet the folks from Mill River Fly Rods and to  look over their offerings of fly fishing rods and reels.  Mill River is a small local company located in Wallingford,Connecticut whose company mission is to offer up high quality fly fishing rods and reels at affordable prices.  They offer up a nice range of fresh water rods and reels that felt nice, looked good and to be of high quality and were definitely an affordable price.  The only true test of any rod is to get out on the water and fish it and I would definitely be willing to give their rods a try and just might do so.  It sure would be nice to have a small local business provide me with the tools to catch some fish.

These little expos and shows don't get the big draw and press that the regional shows do, but they are worth the visit for sure and a great way to find and support the local businesses in your area so make sure to visit one.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review of the event...

    I have one of the Umpqua Pro Guide boxes and, after just a brief splash into the drink, I had some water inside...not as bad as some others but not waterproof. I just ordered some of the Siman bi-color material and will also try to get some of the Cortland also...as you noted, rather have a more consistently available product...I've been using single color red or yellowish mono to make my sighters.

    Regarding you question of movements, at the end of a drift, I sometimes pull the line straight toward me and let it drift back out again and this has given me some fish but it's a tough hook set for me.