In and Around the World's Largest Fly Fishing Show at Somerset, NJ

By Mike Hogue

For those that have never attended The Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, NJ you are missing out on a great treat. The Fly Fishing Show is billed as the World's Biggest Fly Fishing Show and judging by the size of things, I really believe this is the case.

The Somerset show is held in the Garden State Auditorium and Convention Center. This year about 10,000 people attended the show. At times it can be a hassle, with all of the people but it is also great fun seeing old friends, catching up on the news, seeing programs and also playing with ALL of the newest fly fishing toys.

If you are interested in watching programs 5 programs from the Who's Who of Fly Fishing are going on all day long. Speakers like Ed Engle, Al Caucci, Bob Jecklin, Dick Talleur, Bob Popovics, Joe Humphreys, Barry Beck and Charlie Meck gave seminar talks.

5 Fly Tying Classes went on with famous tyers like George Harvey, Roman Moser, Bob Lindquist, Charlie Meck and many others giving classes. Fees are reasonable and fair prices range from $50 and up. This is a bargain when you consider how much talent there is here and what the normal fee for the class would be if it was held somewhere else.

They also had the Destination Theatre in which speakers from lodges, locations or destinations give talks. I gave my bass talk 3 times to about 100 people, in which I told folks how to fly fish in lakes for warmwater fish. I think most people liked the talk in which I showed a lake that was drained, how to fish it and where to go. Nancy Hopping threatened to heckle me but she never showed up. I am lucky no asked me how to catch the famous New Jersey silver fish. Ugh!......Don't even go there.

While I don't have an exact count, I think that there were about 250 commercial displays set up. Most of the big rod companies, large retailers and many catalog companies were set up. You had a chance to see kick boats ( and meet my pal Larry Tullis of UT), cast rods, see the latest fly tying stuff and meet people like Mark Susin who paints the most beautiful trout pictures I have ever seen. Mark had a display of the trout stamps he did and a fair number of his pictures. Just incredible! I left in a hurry thinking that I couldn't afford an original painting by him.

I loved the Maine DNR booth and bought a Maine sewn T-shirt for $15, a poster for $.50 and a landlocked salmon book for $1.00. Laura stopped by the Ott Lite booth and bought a new small lamp for $65. I swapped some stuff with the guys from the Ireland travel booth and I now have several really cool Irish fishing pins which are not for sale. I also meet Peter O'Rielly and had a chance to talk to him about his book and Irish fly fishing. I liked Buddy Cote's booth from Maine. He plays jazz on a CD player and stacks stuff up to the roof which sort of reminds you of an old hardware store.

Both of us like the new Tyer's notebooks by Finnsport which we are going to add to the new catalog for this season. I had a booth next to Bill Merg of the Rite Bobbin company and across from Norm Norlander of the Norlander vise. Norm and I had great fun teasing Bill.

I sold tons of stuff and almost all of my flies were snapped up. The most unusual display was this company from MD that drug in an entire log cabin just for the show. I'm thinking the front porch off this deal would have worked just well. Gees, glad I didn't have to build or set up that one! I opted to use the side Fire Exit to load up after seeing that one come in! Chain saws to load up anyone?

A fair number of fly fishing organizations were there like the Catskill Tyer's Guild, The Catskill Fly Fishing Center, The Ted Gordon Fly Fishers, TU and FFF, the American Museum of Fly Fishing and the Pa Fly Fishing Museum. You had a chance to look at some really nice flies.

I think there were about 50-100 fly tyers at the show. Lots of famous names and faces. I talked with Harry Steeves, traded some flies with Dave Brandt, looked some at a nice book Bill Skilton is working on and also had a chance to show Rowan Nyman of Blue Ribbon flies my version of the Chaos hopper which caught tons of fish for me last year. I showed him the new cutters made by River Road Creations and I suspect you will see those at Blue Ribbon this summer, just remember who told you about them first!!!!!!!!!

Wow! What a cool show. This really was neat. I hope all of you can come next time.

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New stuff: I did a lot of shopping at the show and bought, swapped and traded for some really cool stuff.

Dyed Tanuki Tails: If you like fox tails you'll love these. Tanuki is a Japanese raccoon. Hair is about 2-3 inches long and has black tips, actual tails are cream over dyed, to create a barred tip. All tails are full and about 8-9" long. Great for salmon wings, streamers or Clouser minnows. Colors: Orange, Green, Tan/Lt. Brown, Purple, Blue. $4.00 each

Harry Steeves Loco Foam: My bud Harry Steeves makes this using a secret process which I tried to extract over a few beers to no avail. Each sheet has a foil which is bonded to it to created a laminated foam back in foil. These foam sheets can be cut or punched into various shapes. This material is used to make the Steeves' LA ant, Bottle flies and the Blados Crease flies. Colors: Green Bottle, Blue Bottle, Copper, Tan Swirl, Blue-Green Swirl, Small Green-Purple Swirl, Lime Chartreuse Swirl, Tan-Pearl Swirl, Large Green Swirl ( All of the swirl patterns are iridescent and look sort of like paisley prints or a spilled oil slick.) $3.50 each.

Harry Steeves' Circle Punch Tools: Harry uses these tools to punch out discs and to make various ants and beetles. The largest tools can be used to make discs for bass flies. The smaller ones make nice strike indicators on Chernobyl ants. Contains 12 pieces of 1/8" to 3/4". To sharpen each punch, Harry uses a cone shaped sharpening stone. $18.00 ( note: due to excess weight shipping is $5 for this item).

Pre-Strung Peacock Herl: If you like burnt herl, this is for you. Burnt herl is often used for flies like the H & L Variant or the Quill Gordon. Pre-strung by the inch, this contains many more strands than the individual herl which you yank off the sticks. $1.50 per inch ( Limited supply)

Really cool quails: I found a source for these really hard to find Western quails. Very unusual and interesting. The Gambel's quail which I have stocked before is very hard to find. It has a medium dun body and black & chestnut mask. It makes nice soft hackles and is a nice looking feather. The Mearn's Quail is a spotted quail from the SW and is black, brown, gray. Many of the feathers are marked brilliantly are very unusual. This is very hard for me to find these and the supply is limited. Price: $12 each or get both for $20.00

Mirage Dome Eyes: Mirage film is a prismatic pearl which changes colors under various light. The eyes are epoxy with a black center, similar to the 3D Holo eyes of a few years ago. Very cool! Sizes: 3/32, 5/32, 1/4, 3/8". $2.50/pack

Danville Single Strand Floss: For years I loved using the Danville high-gloss floss but always hated splitting the floss and dividing the 4 strands. After talking with Danville, I asked them to custom wind these spools for me. This is the same great stuff you have loved for years, now you can use your floss or material bobbins with this! This is available nowhere else!!!!!! Ideal for soft hackles, steelhead or salmon flies. The red of course can be used on the Royal Wulff. Colors: Yellow, Burnt Orange, Black, Light Blue, Red, Purple, Olive, Claret. $1.00 each.

Mustad C52S BLN: For those that love the TMC 8089 but hate the price, this is for you. 2XL stinger hook with a black nickel finish, this can be used for hair bugs, mice or a saltwater hook. Price is nice and is a high tech alternative to the 3366. Sizes: 1/0, 2 and 4. Price: $5.50

Arctic Runner ( AKA Icelandic Horse). I ran into my buddy Skuli from the Iceland tourism display and picked up a bunch of this. Dick Talleur loves this stuff and you will be seeing this in a lot of articles coming up! Very nice hair which is about 1 1/2" Long, I have carried this material for sometime and added more stock and colors. Colors: Purple, White, Dark Gray, Chestnut, Flo Yellow, Hot Orange, Olive, Chartreuse. $4.00 each

Arctic Fox Masks: If you like artic fox, this is some nice fur to use. Contains entire mask dyed several colors. Blue Dun, Black, Purple, Red, Natural Silver/Black ( Salt & Pepper colors), Blue and Hot Pink. $2.50 each

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New Books:

Just off the press:

Steelhead Dreams: The Theory, Method, Science and Madness of Great Lakes Steelhead Fly Fishing by Matt Supinski. This is a great book which explains the where to go, how to do it, what to use for steelheading. Covers areas like WI, MI, PA, OH, NY and many other places. Explains casts and also seasons to fish. Wonderful! $29.95 paperback

Shrimp & Spey Flies for Salmon & Steelhead by Chris Mann and Robert Gillespie. This is a comprehensive guide of spey & shrimp patterns. The authors examine and select patterns from all over the world and gather them together in one book. All images in the book are computer drawn and very nice full color pages, this is a beautiful book. Be sure to check out the patterns from the guys at the Global Fly Fisher. Price: $32.95 Hardback.

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Next road stop: I will have a small ( and I mean small ) table at the Catskill Fly Tyer's Guild Swap Meet 2/16/02 in Roscoe. This is at the Rockland House and is from 12-4pm . Bring stuff to trade, extra necks, rods, reels or boots. Last year I found a nice book I swapped for some other things. Laura grabbed up an Orvis Fly Tyer's notebook for $10 and swapped a fishing bag for a rod. I will be there early and to grab ALL of the good stuff. I will be bringing some items which I want to thin down and sell off. Be sure to come. Great fun and a chance to get out of the house. Stay for the prime rib dinner at the Rockland House and meet my dog Catanna who will be staying in the back of the truck.

If Catanna doesn't behave she'll have to go over to Mark and Misa's to play with the other dogs. We were told some stole Catanna's dog pal Tippy. If you see Tippy let me know and Mark and I will take the blue bomber and get her back!

BTW Catanna has a new hobby. She eat necks and saddles. Just amazing. I had a box of necks and went upstairs, I come back down and gulp. Gone! Nothing but feathers! Somehow she can skin a chicken faster than the dudes from Whiting. I have never seen anything like this. Her taste is currently the low grade stuff, unbagged. She loves my $1.50 necks. Ouch! bones are much cheaper. If need a dog treat let me know.

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As usual if you want to be deleted from this list for any reason, let me know. Hope you enjoyed this! Contact: Mike Hogue, Badger Creek Fly Tying, 1408 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca, NY 14850. 607-266-0736. Email: Mike@eflytyer.com, Web Site: www.eflytyer.com