Last year I was in Australia for the first day of the inaugural London Fly Fair. I was told it was “OK” but the numbers were but as good as hoped for. So when asked to tie on the exhibition fly tiers row this year, I was expecting a fairly quiet day. Nothing could have been further from the truth! I was flat out busy!
A constant stream of fly tiers and curious anglers kept me answering questions, demonstrating techniques and demonstrating flies. The standard of questions showed that the audience were indeed dedicated anglers and fly tiers, rather than people who had wandered in from the street and the atmosphere at the show was buzzing.
I was grateful for a day off on Saturday that allowed me to wander the show and speak to many of the stand holders and watch a couple of the excellent presentations and casting demonstrations. I spent some time watching the other fly tiers too. Paul Monaghan’s incredible pike sized mice and Linda Bachand’s exquisite classic salmon flies were breathtaking, Ben Beckwith is one of the young generation bringing innovation into fly tying. Always keen to try a new idea, his silicone backed soft touch shrimps look almost edible. I also managed to get roped into teaching a group of local scouts to tie flies which was fun. It always amazes me how some children take to fly tying instantly and with the minimum of instruction create a good first fly. Of course others find it a little more difficult but all of the scouts managed a fly to take home with them and hopefully the scout leader will add fly tying to their crafts curriculum. The common wisdom is that shows take 3 years to hit their stride. If this is true next years show should be even better!.