I used my fishing time this weekend to go to the Fly Fishing Show in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Approximately 85 vendors, 20 fly fishing celebrities, and 27 expert fly tiers participated, sharing their time, experience, and expertise with a crowd of fly fishers, fly tiers, and families. I have attended the conference five or six times, and each time has been a rewarding experience. Last year, I was lucky enough to spend a few minutes with Joe Humphreys, which was a highlight of my year.
Most of the times I have been to the show, I was joined by my friends Brian and Mark. This year, neither of them could make it. Without them to bounce ideas off after presentations or when checking out gear in the vendor area, something felt amiss. Like going to a football game without my friend Kevin, a fly fishing show without Mark or Brian doesn’t feel quite right. I also anticipated talking with an author, Bob Romano, who I admire and who I have met several times at different fly fishing shows in years past. I was looking forward to talking with him about my book, giving him a copy and thanking him for his encouragement and inspiration towards completing my goal of becoming an author. After searching for a bit, I discovered Bob was not in attendance on Saturday. I was borderline sulking the first two hours of my time at the show.
I was beginning to think my time would’ve been better spent fishing. Holding the show pamphlet tightly in my hands, I sat down in the lobby and went through the seminar schedule. There were many great presentations listed, I needed to shake off my gloominess and get off my butt. Starting with watching the featured fly tiers and then stepping into the seminar rooms, I began to open and improve my mindset.
Jake Villwock gave a great presentation on smallmouth bass fly fishing. His energy, humor, and intelligence lifted me up and inspired me to set a goal to tie some crayfish and bait fish patterns and try my hand at smallmouth bass fishing this year. Jake’s insight on fly design and considerations for seasonal food sources for smallmouth was impressive and he clearly explained and depicted his concepts.
The last speaker I watched before I headed home was George Daniel. As an accomplished competitive angler his skill is obvious, but he strives to be a teacher first and angler second. This priority was obvious in his seminar. George focused on using a Mono System that is versatile and can be used for nymphs, streamers, and dry flies. I felt like I wanted a recording of everything he said. He was logical and descriptive on his recommendations for tackle, leaders, flies, and tactics. With a superior level of knowledge and experience, George still communicated clearly and with humility. By the time he finished his presentation, I needed to head home. His talk had taught me new techniques, introduced some different equipment and replaced my melancholy with excitement.
Driving home, the lessons learned from the day sank in. I realized how much I missed spending time with Brian and Mark. I cherish our fishing conversations and the breakdowns of what we are seeing, learning, and enjoying from our time on the water and spent together. Also, I appreciated the preparation and energy required from all those people who presented, taught and shared their perspectives with all the people at the Fly Fishing Show. Being a teacher at any level takes tremendous planning, positivity and substance. Jake and George showed all those qualities and helped reinforce the value and importance of gathering at great events like the Fly Fishing Show in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.