Saturday, March 5, 2011

Valley Forge Fly Fishing Show Recap (and some non-skunked goodness!)

Today was bittersweet. There were definitely highs and lows. I didn't go to bed until 2am, and I woke up right before 5, wide awake. I stayed in bed trying to sleep until 6 and then I figured I might as well just get up and head down to the convention center to beat the crowds. I hit the road just before 7. The usual 1-1.25 hour commute only took me about 35 minutes and I got there and realized that it didn't open until 9. Oops.

The good thing was that Valley Creek was only a few miles away. I scouted it yesterday so I knew I could find fish. I strung up and started to hike it upstream through some water I didn't check out yesterday.

Unfortunately, I didn't see many fish and the few I did see took off like a bat out of hell the second I got within 30 feet of them. I swear these browns have eyes in the back of their heads. Or it could just be that I'm 6'4", weigh 270, and it's pretty much impossible for me to stay out of site. You can see me coming two miles away.

But moving on, I did see a ton of BWOs coming off the water. I guessed them at about a size 18. I took off my nymphs, switched to 7x tippet, and threw on a few no hackle CDC dries in 18. I hiked back down to the familiar water from yesterday and sure enough, they start to rise. Swinging 18s over them for half an hour got me zilch. I started wondering if it was the pattern, or the size.

I switched to a 22 and started working one fish that was about 40 feet downstream from me that I could see rising just behind a branch hanging down from a tree into the water. I hid behind a tree so he didnt see me, and just started repeatedly casting until he finally took the fly. Even though they claim the water here is polluted and you can't keep any of the fish, this fish fought like he was a much bigger fish and jumped clear out of the water 3 times before I got him in. He looked 100% healthy, plump, and had beautiful red spots on his side.

My first Valley trout

I love dry fly fishing for spooky wild fish. Few things in the fishing world are more fun to me than hitting small streams like this. I worked my way down for about another 200 yards having a blast and started to head back to the car.

On my way, I saw a pod of about a dozen fish happily rising to olives about every 2 seconds in the tail end of this long pool. I knew that if I moved another two feet towards them they'd be gone, and that this was going to require a very long cast and a ton of patience to even have a shot at one of these fish. I kneel down, turn around, and get ready to get my gear situated and into the water, and I was reminded at just how f*&^king stupid people are sometimes. This portly fellow, who I noticed wading basically dancing around dead center in the middle of a 15-20 foot wide stream and casting at the bank wondering why no wild spooky fish would take his fly see me scanning the water and notices the rises too. He starts literally trying to run through the water to beat me to the spot. As soon as I saw him moving I could just see the fish take off upstream at 50 MPH, and into deep cover. (Mind you, he was a good 50 yards downstream..I wasn't creeping up on his spot) He stops right where the fish WERE rising, and starts chucking a giant size 10 nymph into the water.

I walked by and pretty much just said "You know there were just a dozen fish rising immediately where you're standing right?" He replies "Yeah, that's why I got to this spot." Idiot.

I didn't let it phase me too much. I didn't get skunked. And I'm sure he did. I then shot over to the convention center. I have to say, I was dissapointed in the show. It was about 1/3 the size of the Somerset show, yet it was the same $15 entrance fee. The show was much smaller than I thought it would be. Quite a few of the guys listed to attend were not there, and there really wasn't that many good tying material shops in attendance. I spent less than 2 hours there. I think $5 or $10 would have been much more reasonable for a show of that size. And since there were less fly shops there, it meant that the ones who were there were less competititive with pricing. I didnt' really get any good deals. I did buy a ton of stuff anyway. (click to enlarge)

As for highlights, there honestly wasn't that much. I'm pretty excited to take George Macaig's tying class after seeing those woven stoneflies again.

Bruce Corwin was once again cool as hell. He let me test out the Ekich automatic bobbin and I actually decided against buying one. They are way too heavy. He also has this trick with wood duck to make mayfly wings which is totally insane. I have to try it out.

Aaron Jasper put up with me asking a ton of questions and was really cool about answering all of them while I watched him tying his polish woven patterns. He makes it look so easy, and he even gave me one of them. (thanks again and good luck with the grayling!)

I was looking for some Jan Siman dubbing and some magic shrimp foil, but unfortunately no one had it. Luckily, I came across Kevin Compton's booth and he had some cool euro materials for sale. I picked up some Dohiku barbless hooks, UV Quill body (this stuff is awesome), and some Sybai pearl braidback in two colors.

And that honestly just about wraps it up. Also, what's up with not serving beer there!? I think next year I'll just stick with Somerset and skip Valley Forge. Not worth the money. So yeah, I caught fish, had a run-in with an idiot, paid way to much to enter a rather small show, but still got some good materials (even if it did cost me way too much). Definitely some highs and lows.


  1. Great post and some good buys at the show. Did you get to see Aaron's Euronymphing DVD yet? AS always Aaron does a great job breaking it down and teaching it.

    I started weaving flies after watching Aaron's DVD and I am starting to get the hang of it. I fished some of Aaron's woven nymphs last year and did well. Can't wait to try my own.

    I need some of the Quill Body and Magic Shrimp foil as well. wflies carries the shrimp foil and they have great service and good prices as well. Check them out at

    Thanks for sharing.

    Passinthru Outdoors Blog - Sharing the Passion

  2. I do have the DVD. I bought it off Aaron at Somerset. It's great. I've watched it multiple times already.

    I wish I could say that I've gotten good at weaving. I can do it, but anything smaller than a size 10 gets all messed up. Practice makes perfect. I just went and bought a ton of embroidery floss yesterday to practice with.