Those of us who tie flies are lucky to have the world’s largest fly-tying exhibition right in our part of the country.
The 23rd International Fly Tying Symposium will take place Saturday and Sunday in Somerset, N.J. — but this year, the event will be held not in the ballroom of the Doubletree Hotel, but in the next-door Garden State Exhibition Center, the much larger space where The Fly Fishing Show is held every January.
The International, as regulars call the fly-tying symposium, will benefit from the extra room. The 2013 edition includes an indoor bamboo rod casting contest and demonstrations of fly action in an indoor 100-foot pool. Back for a second year will be an aisle of bamboo rod makers, and this year, for the first time, the International will feature an artist’s aisle.
“We had so many people that wanted to be part of the show, and we were always squeezing into the ballroom,” said Chuck Furimsky, the famously mustachioed organizer of both the International and the Fly Fishing Show. “It gave us a lot more space to accept more fly-tyers who were on the waiting list.”
Also new this year is a contest: the International Super Fly Tying Competition. Entries in five categories, in youth and open divisions, will be judged by an A-list panel, including three Capital Region residents: Jay “Fishy” Fullum of Ravena, Pat Cohen of Cobleskill and Bob Mead of Glenville.
Just having those three well-known fly gurus judge your bug would be intimidating enough, but the panel also includes Bob Clouser, Fly Tyer magazine editor Dave Klausmeyer, Enrico Puglisi, Tom Baltz, Charlie Craven, Gary Borger, Ben Furimsky, Theo Bakelaar, Marc Petitjean, John Shaner, and Bob Popovics.
Attendees will be given cards to vote on the more than 125 flies that were submitted for the show. The top five vote-getters in each category will be judged by the experts.
The theme of this year’s International is “The Dutch Masters.” A contingent of renowned fly designers from the Netherlands and Belgium will demonstrate and teach classes, including the man who came up with a fly that revolutionized dry-fly fishing: Hans van Klinken, the mind behind the Klinkhammer Special.
Part dry fly, part emerger, the “Klink” has become a go-to fly for many hatch-matchers. This will be van Klinken’s first appearance at the symposium, and he’s sure to get a lot of pats on the back from anglers who have used his fly to win over fussy rising trout.
As always, the room will be ringed with many of the world’s best fly-tyers. Guests are welcome to get a close-up look at them in action and chat with them about materials and techniques.
And, of course, there will be many shopping opportunities. If you’re looking for a hard-to-find material or tool, the International is the place to look.
“We have everything imaginable for tying,” Furimsky said. “All the shops are bringing every neck and hook and anything else you could want.”
The symposium will run from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 9-4:30 Sunday. Admission is $15 Saturday, $12 Sunday or $20 for both days.
More information is available at www.internationalflytyingsymposium.com.
Morgan Lyle’s commentary appears regularly in The Daily Gazette. Reach him at email@example.com.