Winter is the season for fly-fishing shows, and there seem to be more of them all the time.
But the Goldstock’s Sporting Goods Cabin Fever Fly-Tiers Expo, slated for Feb. 23-24, has become a real institution in the Capital Region. Now in its 12th year, it’s an event that welcomes anyone who’s interested in fly-tying, or who thinks they might become interested, and leaves them both informed and inspired.
Yes, you can watch Bob Mead of Glenville make his amazingly lifelike ladybugs and mosquitoes at the big shows in Somerset, N.J., but you also have to drive to Somerset and pay to get in. Goldstock’s is free, and Bob is just as friendly on Freemans Bridge Road as he is in the Garden State.
Bill Donato, the dean of Capital Region fly-tiers and fishers, will be at Goldstock’s. Dave Brandt of Oneonta, instructor at the Joan Wulff School of Fly Fishing, friend of former competition caster Joan and her late husband, the legendary Lee Wulff, and Catskill-style dry-fly tier extraordinaire, will be in the house.
Pat Cohen will be tying on Saturday of the expo. Cohen’s fly-tying career pretty much began at Goldstock’s just a few years ago, and now it is, in fact, a career — he’s given up his previous gig as a tattoo artist and gone full-time at the vise.
Cohen has already dreamed up more new patterns than many pro tiers come up with in their lifetimes, and he’s cranking them out a breakneck pace for shipment to anglers around the country and overseas.
Bill Wemple, George Kass, Glenn Kuhles, John Morette, John Prokorym, Mark Franze, Robin Hill, Rodney Priddle, Ron Boutin and Heath Clayson will all be present, expertly crafting flies for all kinds of fish.
They’ll explain exactly what they’re doing and why, and will be happy to shoot the breeze about fishing, which is probably the best way to spend a February afternoon, or at least one of the best.
I’ll be there on Feb. 23, replenishing my favorite patterns and gawking at the decades of collective fly-tying experience on display all around.
Fly-tying has been part of fly-fishing from the start; after all, you can’t fly-fish without a fly. Making one’s own flies is a satisfying hobby in its own right, one that some people enjoy as much as the fishing itself.
And while you can fish very successfully with store-bought flies, I think intimate knowledge of a fly’s composition and attributes gives you a better understanding of how and why the fly gets fish to bite. Tying your own gives you the option of enhancing features that make sense to you and seem to work well, and omitting those that don’t.
So, for example, if you consistently catch fish on flies that have no shiny rib spiraled up the hook shank, you may decide not to bother with a rib the next time you tie — unless you simply like the way the rib looks, which is a completely valid reason to include it.
The Cabin Fever Fly-Tiers Expo runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, at Goldstock’s, 98 Freemans Bridge Road.
There’s a lot of great fishing in New York, but there’s also some great fishing right over the state line — good enough to be worth the cost of an out-of-state license. Adam Franceschini from Housatonic River Outfitters will talk about fishing the Housatonic and Farmington rivers at Monday’s meeting of the Clearwater Chapter of Trout Unlimited at the Albany Ramada Plaza Hotel, 3 Watervliet Ave. Ext., Albany. As usual, the meeting starts at 7:30 with a fly-tying demo at 6:30, is free and the public is invited. More details can be found at www.clearwatertu.org.
Morgan Lyle’s commentary appears regularly in The Daily Gazette. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.