Tuesday, November 25, 2014

International Fly Tying Symposium 2014

I can only say I tied flies all weekend so many times before even I don’t want to see it anymore…so it has been a little slow around here as I have just been cranking away.  That changed a few times in the last few weeks though with a relaxing week down in Florida and then last weekend the yearly drive over to Somerset NJ for the International Fly Tying Symposium.  The Symposium was a blast as usual.  After eight hours, and a couple premium cigars on the road, I rolled in to the convention hotel just before rush hour on Friday.  First stop of course is to drop in to TKs Pub for a quick beverage before unpacking and as luck would have it I was able to catch the end of the Dayton hoops game as well.  Mike Heck was already there by the time I got in so we caught up a bit and then headed over to the convention side to unload.  Getting there early is always nice as we can pull in to the convention floor to unload rather than cart stuff a few hundred yards.  It did not take long to get everything out of the car and to our table where it would sit until morning before being set up for the show.  We visited with a few other people on the way out then headed over to the hotel to get squared away and get a plan together for the evening.  As it turns out the plan was the same as every other year…go to TKs and have some drinks while visiting with people as they arrive for the show. 
It is always fun to see many of the people there that I may only see for this show and maybe January.  Catching up over a years worth of details not covered in Facebook posts, emails and texts always makes for a fun evening.  As we slipped out about 10 we realized that thankfully gone are the nights that Heck and I close the bar each night there…fun when it is happening but makes the mornings less than a hoot.  Allen Landheer and I got back to the suite and found that Heck and Compton were both already out so we ducked in to the room and closed the door.  I sat down on the bed and started to go through emails I missed on the road then heard a familiar *POP* behind me.  My head dropped as I said “that sounds like a bottle of scotch…” to which Al replied “yeah buddy…Oban 14 tonight”.   Bed was put off by another few hours as we dug in to that delicious bottle and Al broke out his suitcase full of feathers.  It always amazes me to see what he has in there and what he recently has been able to find….this time it was a treasure trove from the previous weekend Art of the Angler show in CT.   Eventually sleep became the actual priority and we called it a night.  I had visions of pristine polar bear rugs and sessions of Congress where they legalize the harvest of herons dancing in my head all night…
Saturday morning came just a few precious hours later.  I made my standard run over to Zee Best Bagel for a breakfast Sammie and a sub for lunch before heading to the show to get set up.  At this point I can pretty much get set up in my sleep but with a few new items I took my time to lay everything out to make the best use of my 4’x2’ space.  With the banner up behind me I was ready to rock an hour before show time…so time to shop.  I had a list in my head before I went of a couple things that I wanted to grab so off I went to see what I could find.  I ended up with a full Blue Eared Pheasant, BEP rump patches dyed in three colors (olive, brown and blue), a cree saddle (not for dries but for streamers) and a bunch of giant hen saddles.  Pretty much mission accomplished!  The show opened and the initial flood of people came through.  As per the norm they tend to quickly walk through the first time looking for deals and trying to be the first to the material bins before then settling in and coming around to the tiers.  It seemed that attendance was down which meant that those there did have pretty much run of whatever they wanted to see without waiting or being a few deep at a table.  Mike and I had a pretty steady day of traffic in front of us which made the time go quickly.  In the afternoon I had my great friends Andrew and Amy stop by and hang out, which was great because I really haven’t seen them in person since they moved to Maine a couple years ago.  As the show wound down we got closed up and headed back to the room for a quick beer before heading out for some food.  I drowned my sorrows of the Michigan football loss in a giant full rack of ribs and a few Yuengs to wash it down and caught up with my Maine buddies.  They had to head back to the city for the night so we shot back over to TKs to catch everyone that went to the show banquet.  After a few hours we called it a night early again.
Al Ritt doing his thing with the ever present smile on his face.
Sunday morning was a near exact repeat of Saturday morning.  After checking out of the hotel I headed back over to grab food and then hit the show for the day.  Sunday was visibly slow so there was a lot more talking and wandering going on than tying.  IT was a laid back day so we made the best of our time by learning a few new things. 

Allen Landheer talking about a new batch of feathers he procured recently.

Pat Cohen talking shop...in his shop.
As the afternoon got close to it’s end I started to slowly put things away that I was not using and then when the show closed I was able to get packed down in about fifteen minutes. I walked around and said my good-byes and happy holidays to everyone that I could find before hitting the road. About nine windy/rainy/dark hours later I rolled in to my driveway and crashed out about 2A. Always a whirlwind weekend and always a great time. Can’t wait to head back in January and do it again…for three days!

I leave you with a shot from early in the month...can't ever have enough redfish!  I hope that you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving this week and enjoy yourself in whatever you chose to partake of.  I hope to get some good water time soon and will of course be at the vise a great deal of time in the next month so will hopefully have some shots to share.
-mike schmidt


  1. Cool show, my first time to the FTS... Saw some really creative flies, will you be there again in Jan? (Zee bagels were great too)

  2. You picked a good one to come to as it was relatively lightly attended so you had your run of the place! I will be back in January for sure.

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  5. It's a shame we don't have such big fly tying conventions in Europe. We have small clubs but nothing nearly as big as you guys have. Hope you know how lucky you are :D

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