Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Fly Fishing Show - Marlborough, Mass

Yesterday, I traveled the 77 miles from my house and attended the Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough Massachusettes and as much as I enjoy going to fly fishing shows, this one is a disappointment. It was after all a Friday which may have kept the attendance low since people may have been at work, waiting to attend on Saturday or Sunday. With the New England Patriots playing on Sunday, attendance may also take a hit. I know where i'll be on Sunday!

I paid my entrance fee of $15 dollars and walked around for about an hour darting from booth to booth looking to scare up a deal or two but found many prices to be the same as your local fly shop. I was looking for certain materials and did not find them. I did spy the Hardy booth as I am interested in the new Ultralite series of reels and came away quite impressed. These may be going in my arsenal of fly reels and will replace some older reels I haven't used in years. Yes, there where plenty of hackles to be found! Unfortunately Collins Hackle Farm was a no show. I ended up buying a book by Mike Valla on wet flies, a pair of large looped forceps and some extra dispensing tops for my Bug Bond UV resin bottle. Not really a productive day buying materials.

One highlight of the show was watching Don Bastian tie a Gray Ghost streamer. A pure joy to watch!  Here is a photo of some streamers tied By Don Bastian and Sharon Wright. (sorry, phone cameras suck) Standing next to Don Bastian was Sharon Wright. This lady can tie Rangely style streamers!

I also did not see a huge presence of salt water fly tyers like there have been in previous years. Maybe nothing to worry about or just a shift back to fresh water tying.

I also saw Dave & Emily Whitlock and they had a throng of folks around them. They were also selling book, dvd's, art work and some flies. $250 bucks for 6 red fox squirrel nymphs and variations is a little steep for my wallet but I'm sure collectors will pay that much and maybe even more.

Its unfortunate but this show is getting smaller and smaller each year. The show didn't even fill the room from one end to the other with vendors. Even Norm Norlander (Nor-vise) and Cote's Fly Shop (staples of fly fishing shows) did not attend. What were once large display booths from the major rod manufacturers has dwindled down to a small sign and a fair assortment of rods. I even saw 4 different manufacturers sharing  booth space. Sign of the economical times?

So after all is said and done, I would have to rate the show as just being "OK" but leaning on the side of disappointing rather than wow! This is one show I'll be passing up in the future. I actually got about 10 miles into the journey and turned around and headed home. Should have stuck with my guy feeling.

I wish the Shriners would bring back their fly fishing show!


Doug Korn, PFS Fly Tyer said...

Nice report on the show... too bad it wasn't better... That's my biggest fear, travel a long way and then it's not worth it... TL, Doug

Brk Trt said...

Now I feel better about not going.
Good report.

Normand Frechette said...

I dont know if my comments would be the same for the show coming to Somerset, NJ next week. It is a much larger show than the one in Marlborough. The weather may also have something to do with attendance. It snowed Thursday night up here in New England, its snowing as I type this and if today was my scheduled day to hit the show, I would have stayed home.

I am not traveling over 230 miles to NJ find out.

If you have never been, I would recommend going at least once and then decide if its worth going again.

Howard Levett said...

Thanks for the interesting report. Sort of disappointing since the Denver show (aside from some technical glitches)was a wow. Of course the show is about 20 minutes from my house.

Normand Frechette said...


Denver may have a larger fly fishing base or frenzy than we have here in New England (although it would be the greater Boston area). Or people are just not wanting to go to the show. Same old stuff year after year.

I know whatever show that came to Denver when I lived there (1980-1991) was aleways a good one. I do miss the tying show put on by the Evergreen Chapter of TU

Alan Corbin said...

Norm I spent the day there today(saturday) and while I enjoyed catching up with some of the tiers and found a few materials I was searching for, I have to agree with you.It was smaller.
I hadn't planned on going but Scott from Bear's den had $10 tickets. I did catch Lefty Krey's casting demo and possibly have a new blank supplier, but if I had to travel more than 30 minutes and pay full price I wouldn't have gone. We ended up with about 4-5" snow.

Normand Frechette said...


I never would have driven the 77 miles in the snow yesterday. I think we got 6-8 inches of snow.

I signed up for a tying class at the Bears Den with Don Bastian. Should be pretty intense. I talked with him at the show and we'll be tying a couple of New England style streamers and 5-6 winged wet flies. and the price was just right.

Alan Corbin said...

Bear's Den show in February (25th)
is usually better and FREE!
Scott usually has some good classes/demos. Perhaps I'll see you there. I usually catch up to the Bass Pond guys there. If not I'll see you on the web as Albcorb

Passinthru Outdoors said...

The storm kept me from going. I only had Saturday to go and didn't feel like making the hour+ ride with the storm. Thanks for the report.

Normand Frechette said...

Hi Al,

I will be at Bears Den on Feb 26th for a tying class with Don Bastian.

Ill look into Scotts show on the 25th.

How do you like his new shop? Seems to be in a weird place (industrial park) but its sooo much bigger. He needs to layout the store a little differently and group items that go together better.

Fly Tying Company said...

I had a similar experience last year with our annual fly fair. The organizers had moved the dates to the weekend of fathers day and needless to say, attendance was below average. It was more apparent later in the first day, I hung around to hear a couple of guest speakers and by the time 3pm came along, most of the traders were packing up shop. Very few deals to be found but like most shows, there were plenty of exceptional fly tiers

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you.. I also could not find many of the materials on my list, and was dissapointed by some of the heavy hitters lack of merchandise. If there is a better show.... please let me know. -dissapointed yank-