It was good being back in Michigan. This time it wasn’t to fish, but it’s the next best thing. The Midwest Fly Fishing Expo has been happening for 36 years now, and is organized by the Michigan Fly Fishers Club. These guys were all fantastic and they know how to put on a show!
I started the day by meeting up with my friend, Todd Schotts of Grizzly Flies by Schottsie. Todd is a super nice guy and he really helped me throughout the day by showing me around and introducing me to all of the fly tyers. I cannot thank him enough. By the way, Todd is an extremely good fly tyer in his own right and I’ve asked his advice on tying more than once.
My first visit was with production tyer Sam Surre who lives up by my favorite little town in Michigan, Grayling. Sam has been tying for a long time and ties for several of the shops near the Au Sable River.
I then strolled over to talk to Cameron Mortenson of The Fiberglass Manifesto. It was great to finally meet Cameron in person after trading emails back and forth many times. Cameron had just fished with Mike Decoteau of Red Spot Fly the day before. We talked blog shop and about the show in general. Cameron was my primary inspiration when I created FrankenFly. He has been a huge help to me with getting FrankenFly off the ground.
After checking out the casting pond, I called Ben Treppa knowing he would be at the show. If you haven’t seen Ben’s work, check out his posts at FrankenFly here and here. Ben showed me the place to get some nice hackle at the Keough Hackle booth. They had some great buys and I picked up some nice hackle.
In the buying mode, made me realize I needed to grab a Fugly Packer from Pat Cohen. The Fugly Packer is a large deer hair packer. So I made a beeline for Pat’s booth. Pat’s dad was helping him with the booth and was quite the salesman. Although I didn’t need much of a push. Besides the Packer, I bought Pat’s DVD too. Pat was doing his super duper deer hair stacking of course. He will be doing something for FrankenFly in about a month when time permits.
Deer hair aficionado Bruce Derington was at Pat’s booth at the same time I was. While we were hanging out, a little girl walked up with her mother. I would guess she was about 10 years old. Pat greeted her and asked if she tied flies. She said she had been tying with deer hair and started asking Pat some questions. She was even from my home state, Indiana! Come to find out, she had some of her flies in the car. Pat told her to bring them in and he would be glad to show her some things. Bruce also offered to take her to the children’s tying area and teach her some deer hair techniques. You should have seen her face light up. It was an amazing moment and I’m glad I was there to witness it.
My next logical step was to see the professional viking tyer, Mike Schmidt of Angler’s Choice Flies. He was busy tying his new Junk Yard Dog streamer and mentioned he would be tying winged wet flies over in Sweden for his next gig. I snapped a picture of the fly he recently tied with Clear Cure Goo Expando Tube. It was just a fly he tied for fun, but really cool! In my book, fun is good!
I went back to Todd’s booth where he was about to tie his Mr. Magoo foam popper. Todd says it’s a nice fly for bluegills especially. He used a handy wooden block tool to cut his foam to shape. They are cutter sets by Gary Krebs. There is a picture at the bottom of this post. Also, you can find them here: http://www.riverroadcreations.com/GaryKrebPopperJigs.htm
Todd was tying next to one of his club tyers, Corey Thelen. Corey is young, but had some terrific deer hair creations. Hopefully we will be seeing more of Corey right here on FrankenFly. I was impressed with the flies he had on display.
Todd wanted me to meet another club member and tyer, Jim Weakland. Jim used to tie production but now teaches the craft. He sat down to show me his weaving technique. The colors shown were only used so I could better see what he was doing. It was a good technique that makes a great looking nymph body. I hope to show this technique in more detail at a later time.
Nearby, Mr. Al Ritt was tying intruder style tube flies. He uses Pro Tube Fly System. He calls them Mr. Potato Head flies because he can add parts to them even while on the water. Al works for Peak Fishing and I noticed he had fancy fixtures on his vise. He said it was custom work by a friend named Jeff Graham. Jeff had some issues with his hands (I don’t remember what exactly) where he needed physical therapy and exercise for them. He chose to do etching and this is one of the first pieces he worked on. This piece was done with hammer and chisel, but these days Jeff uses an air hammer. I will be working with Al to post some of his work on FrankenFly and he plans to provide me with more details about Jeff and the custom work he offers.
Another major production tyer was at the show and that was Julie Nielson. I sat down as Julie was tying a Brown Drake. If you know what a Robert’s Yellow Drake is, it was like that, only brown. I’m not usually lucky, but I felt like this time I was. I have been having some problems tying Robert’s Yellow Drake and Julie talked to me about these issues and showed me exactly how to fix them. In a word, bliss! She is a very knowledgeable and skilled tyer and one of the best parachute tyers you’ll ever meet.
A monster fly tyer, Eli Berent was next on my list. By monster fly tyer, I mean he ties monster flies for pike. Eli had a fly on display he called the Foosa. It was a cool looking fly and he has many other cool patterns as well. You can check out his website here.
After a little shopping, my last stop was watching A.K. Best’s presentation on how to tie better wings. I wish I would have captured better pictures, but that’s how it goes. A.K. was informative and entertaining for sure.
This was my first time attending the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo and I definitely plan to be back next year. The Michigan Fly Fishers Club were gracious hosts and the show was fabulous! There were tons of other interesting things to see that I didn’t cover here. If you haven’t been to this show, I would highly recommend it.