Most bulletin board/forums will from time to time have what are called “fly swaps” going on where members of the bulletin board/forum community swap flies. This is a good way to receive some flies from tyers all around the world and to see how other tyers tie a particular fly. Fly swaps can be whatever you want them to be i.e.: your favorite dry fly, thunder creek style streamers, Halloween swap (using the colors of Halloween), bluegill flies, bass flies etc.
Here are some ideas to consider when joining or hosting a swap. Please note that these are suggestions that will help swapmeisters and fly swappers have a pleasurable swap and a good time. There are 2 components to a fly swap, swapmeister and fly swapper. Each one has specific duties in a fly swap. So let’s get started.
1. Announce your intentions for the fly swap. Provide instructions on what type of flies to tie and a total on the number of tiers for the swap. I try to stick with a quantity of 12 tyers including myself. That seems to be a number that everyone is comfortable with. When you post your swap, also provide a signup deadline and a deadline for the flies to be in. Stick to the swap deadline! Don’t wait for PROCRASTINATORS! They spoil the swap for everybody!
2. Provide instructions for mailing in flies. I will post my mailing address in a private message (PM) after all swappers have signed up.
3. When the swap is full post on the BB it is full so other tiers won't be wasting there time trying to join the swap.
4. When you receive flies from the tiers, let them know on the bulletin board/forum or send a PM to each swapper that you have received their swap flies.
5. Once you receive all flies from all tiers, its time to sort them, get them all packaged up and deliver them to the post office in a timely manner. Notify all tiers either on the bulletin board/forum or by PM that you have mailed out the flies to them.
6. This is an option – if the swapmeister has the time and resources, it is a nice gesture to photograph the swap flies individually and post them to the bulletin board/forum for anybody to view them.
7. It is important that swapmeisters and tyers communicate with each other thru a private message (PM) or in a bulletin board/forum posting. Swapmeisters it is a good idea to check your post at least once a day, to see if you have any more swappers that have signed up, or in case any of your swappers have questions.
Fly Swapper Duties
1. Understand what you are getting yourself into. When you join a swap, please read the guidelines the swapmeister has provided and adhere to those guidelines! If you feel that you cannot tie the type of fly the swapmeister has posted or if you find the quantity of flies to be tied too many don’t join the swap.
2. Post what fly pattern you will be tying.
3. Tie your swap flies and let the swapmeister know you have finished.
4. Include with your flies a toe tag (small piece of paper) with the name of the fly, your name and/or bulletin board/forum user name and your email address so the other tiers can email you for the fly tying instructions. (Please see the end of this article regarding toe tags.)
5. When mailing your flies, please send them in a strong enough and big enough box that will protect them and will hold all of the flies you will be receiving back. Obviously the size of the flies is going to dictate what size of container to mail them in. Mark the box with your name and address and your user name. It would be a nice gesture if you can mail your swap flies at least 10 days before the end of the swap so they will get to the swapmeister by the deadline date or earlier. (Please see the end of this article for more on containers/boxes.)
6. Tyers must include a self addressed stamped envelope that is strong enough and big enough for the fly box/container you send in and will receive back. Include postage on your return envelope in the form of stamps. Here is what I do: insert you fly box/container in the return envelope (do not seal it at this time) and ask the postmaster for postage from the swapmeisters zip code. Affix the correct amount of stamps to the return envelope. Now you can insert that envelope into the larger mailing envelope and get the postmaster to get you the final postage.
7. When you receive the swap flies back in the mail notify the Swapmeister on the BB or by PM that you have received them.
8. Don't procrastinate! It doesn't look good for you and can make the other swappers a little mad when they have done their best in tying their swap flies and getting them mailed in time.
FYI: If the quantity of a fly swap is lets say 12 swappers, you only need to tie 11 flies. If you tie 12 flies, your fly will be returned to you.
Boxes for Mailing
Boxes used for mailing your flies can be anything you want and come from a variety of sources. The boxes I use are only a suggestion and you con use whatever you like to ship out your swap flies.
1. Tin box - boxes such as an altoid tin or gift card boxes can be used for small midges or even dry flies providing it can hold your swap flies with toe tags attached. You certainly don’t want to stuff larger flies in an altoid and have they come out crushed.
2. Plastic box – This box can be an old fly box, a box for carrying bar soap, small parts storage box etc. The box I use comes from the big box craft store in the aisle where the beads are and costs about $1.30.
3. VHS tape box – This is the box to use for the big flies such as pike flies, bass flies, saltwater flies etc.
Each one of the boxes will have a label affixed to them with my name, address and forum user name.
Toe tags are merely small pieces of paper with your fly pattern name, your name and user name written or typed on them and affixed to the hook of each fly. If there is room on the tag, you might want to add your email address in case a swapper has a question regarding your swap fly.
Some swappers can get quite elaborate regarding toe tags, including myself. For streamer and nymph swaps that do not require palmered hackle, I will design a business card and put that and the fly in a small zip lock baggie. Just remember to add a toe tag be it simple or elaborate to your next batch of swap flies. The other swappers (and the swapmeister) will appreciate the info on the tag. Here are some examples I have received from past swaps:
Above all else, everyone should have a lot of fun with the swap and be open to suggestions and comments, we can all learn from each other.
I hope you have found this article to be interesting and it has given you ideas for your participation in future fly swaps on whichever bulletin board/forum you belong to.