Sunday, January 29, 2012

Somerset Fly Fishing Show - Recap

It feels like it was just yesterday that I was at the 2011 show. I can't believe a year flew by already. After a long night with the kids having sleeping issues, I didn't get to bed until 2am, and was woke up by Michael at 6:55am telling me he wanted to watch the sun come up with me. So much for getting some rest last night.

That slowed me down and I didn't wind up getting to the show until about 9:45am. Needless to say, parking sucked and I got in some exercise walking to the place. I passed through masses of cars and SUVs covered with bumper stickers; old Cadillacs covered in TU and Hardy stickers, and the younger crowd vehicles with Jettas rocking 20 inch rims, covered with Simms, Sage, and "Insert hip fly fishing website here" stickers. Quite the generation gap.

I was surprised when I got inside. It really was not that crowded at all like it was in the last two years. I thought that was a plus. To be perfectly honest, I didn't find the show to really be that great. Almost half of the floor booths were lodges and guide/charter services, or some fly fishing magazine with jacked up subscription prices (But wait! You get a free LED flashlight and cooler with purchase!) There's a reason why the "free issue" they give you when you sign up has the price removed from the front - it's because they are charging you more than the cover price for a year!

There were a decent amount of vendors, much more than the fly tying symposium had a few months back. But, the great deals were not there. At least I didn't find them. I look at it this way. If I'm driving 1.5 hours and paying a $15 admission fee and have to pay $5 for a slightly-colder-than-room-temperature beer, there better be some damn good discounted gear. I just wasn't seeing it. I think the economy is still taking a hold on the fishing industry and the vendors that are left don't have much wiggle room.

Yeah, there were the 100 hooks for $7 deals, and if you don't tie flies you could pick up a dozen at The Fly Shack for $10, but I didn't come across much else. At the end of the day, you could order that stuff online, pay shipping, and still come out cheaper in the end than driving to the show. The best deal of the day was the waste collector that clips on your vise that catches all your clippings while tying. After shopping around at 5 different vendors who had prices ranging from $21 to $40 for the same damn thing, I finally found a place that had one for $12. SCORE!

Where I did get my money's worth was just watching the flies being tied. I saw some great patterns, got some great ideas, and many of the guys were more than willing to allow you to pick their brain for 20 minutes. The only downside was that a lot of the guys just weren't at their booth. There were quite a few empty seats as I was walking through.

I also probably could have attended a show or two to get the most of my money, but when I finally was ready to check out a seminar or film, it was either Bahamas or Alaska. I was hoping for something a little more local. Oh well. There's always next year.

At the end of the day, I guess it was worth going. It got me out of the house. I got to see some old friends, and meet a few cool people. Here's some highlights:

1.The Tenkara Booth
I got to meet Daniel from Tenkara USA and he was a really cool guy. I also got to check out a Tenkara rod for the first time and I have to say, it's got me intrigued. I might have to bite the bullet and buy one.

2.Pat Cohen from Superfly
Three of us just stood there and watch Pat stack some deer hair onto this massive fly for about 15 minutes. It was impressive. Plus he was a really nice guy, and gave my bro-in-law the fly after he was done tying it. If you get a chance, make sure you watch him tie. His sculpins are sick. (The flies at the top of this post were all his.)

3.Lefty Kreh not getting beat up by the Tenkara posse
But seriously, it's always cool to watch a legend cast a fly rod. Sorry for the blurred pic, there was a mob surrounding him and I had to lift my phone in the air to snap a shot.

4.Derek Deyoung of CanvasFish
This was one of the coolest things I saw all day. My jaw dropped when I turned the corner and saw his big original canvases on display. Seeing his designs on a shirt or water bottle do not do them any justice. They look so good up close. He was even working on a painting at the show. I would have loved to buy a print, but even the small ones were a $105. Hell, the bumper stickers were $10. Like I've said before, slap a Simms logo on it, sell it for thousands!

5.Al Ritt's sculpin
This guy tied a sweet articulated streamer and it was the best use of the sculpin helmet I've seen so far. This pic really doesn't do the fly justice. I appreciated him taking the time to show me the pattern

Although I didn't get pics, I also really liked the streamers tied by Mike Schmidt from Angler's Choice, and I always enjoy stopping by to chat and see flies from George Maciag, Bruce Corwin, and Kevin Compton.

Also, I have to be honest. My favorite part of the day had nothing to do with fishing. It was my stop on the way home at the Porterhouse outside of New Hope PA. They have the best freaking burgers ever! It was also nice to wash it down with an Avery IPA.

EDIT - 2/8/12
Before I get any more comments about how this post is harsh, please read my follow up post before you pull the comment trigger and begin to bash me. This post was not meant to be offensive. I have nothing but respect for everyone involved with pulling off such a big event. I just didn't have much fun there.


  1. That was just about the experience I had when I attended the show last week in Marlborough, Mass last weekend.

    The Marlborough show historically has less vendors than the Somerset show, has the same list of casters year after year and the seminars usually don't change that much either.

    I was going to make the 170+ mile, 3 hour drive from Connecticut to see if the somerset show was any better, but now I'm glad I didn't.

    i'm not saying don't go, so if there are newbies out there by all means attend these shows and get first hand experience of what they are all about. As you go to these shows on a yearly basis, you will begin to realize they get smaller. Could just be our economical times we are living in right now. Money is scarce when it comes to buying $750 fly rods that are never discounted.



  2. Nice post about the show, Mike. I too attended the Marlborough show last weekend and had a similar experience. Plan to post a review at some point as well.

  3. Thanks for posting this Mike. I'm also glad you got a chance to see Al tie his sculpin. He's an amazing tier. Well, like I always say, maybe next year.

  4. After reading this, my expectations of the Lancaster show just went into the basement. Oh well, like you said, gets me out of the house!

  5. The Marlboro show was marred by snow, but I agree with the commentary. We should have stayed at home and tied some flys!

  6. Thanks for the review. I couldn't make the trip to Marlborough because of the storm and thought about making the trip to Somerset but couldn't. Everyone likes a deal or two, but like you said seeing some of the guys tie flies and cast a rod is something to see. Thanks for the review on Canvasfish. This is anew one for me and like what I see.

  7. Hey Mike. Thanks for the shout out. Let me preface my comment by saying that I don't work for the promoters of the show... That being said, from the tier's prospective, I thought this was the best show I've been involved with in years. It was well attended, a large variety of terrific vendors, and some of the best tier's in the world. You could score just about any material or piece of hardware at a decent price. I picked up a few neat tying tricks and got to see some old friends, and make some new ones. Even had Dave Whitlock sign a few old books I brought to the show.

    I'll miss the PA show. Did it last year and it was smaller but more intimate from a tier's prospective. Not as much noise and you were able to chat with people without losing your voice from shouting above the noise as I did this past weekend. I'll be in Raleigh on the 12th and will report back.
    Bruce Corwin

  8. Thanks for the comments. After going back and reading it, I guess my review did come off as somewhat negative. I didn't really expect all the traffic coming here to read it.

    To clarify, I think that they did a great job putting the show together. There was a ton of stuff to do from casting demos, to seminars, to films, to shopping and watching the tyers. Maybe I just wasn't that into it this year. I felt like the stuff was overpriced and it just seemed to be alot of the same stuff as last year. Maybe that's just how it is :).

  9. i skipped it. i missed catching up with some people i usually see (hi bruce!), which is a downer, but i don't need more shit and hooks on the innertubes are every bit as cheap as the show unless you want some sort of obscure size found in a box from 1968 (alright, size 1/0 extra light dry fly hooks, $3 for 50!)... 'bout all I would've bought was Collins' hackle, and he wasn't there anyways.

    frankly, the $30 on gas and admission is better spent on strippers. or. whatever. wife? kids? strippers. definatly strippers.

  10. They should have a booth with Strippers.

    And Bruce, thanks for stopping by. It was good to hear it from your perspective and Im curious to hear about the Raleigh show.

  11. i know of places with booths of strippers, costs about $15 to get in and can clean out your wallet as efficently as the collins hackle booth..which wasn't there, so you should have spare cash.

    just sayin.

  12. Sorry we didn't hook up for this one. Highlight of the show Derek Deyoung's wife said she liked the Functioning Fishaholics logo on my shirt. With such a wall of amazing art behind her I didn't even know what to say! (:

    1. That's cool. Yeah I wasnt sure what day you guys were going. I texted Mike when I was at the show and he said he was going on Sun so I figured you'd probably be rolling with him.

  13. I attended the NJ show on Friday. There were a few deals to be had, but I spent most of the day in the various seminars, which I thought were pretty interesting.

    Paid the extra $10 to see the fly fishing films that evening, but they were mostly teasers.

    Looking forward to Troutfest in May.


  14. Mike,

    That was harsh. I think that the show was a reall success. I mean where else can you see legends like Lefty, Bob Clouser, Gary Borger, Simon Gawesworth, Dave Whitlock, Dave Klausmeyer, Jeff Currier, George Daniel, and many others under one roof at the same time. Putting all of that talent together takes a ton of time and effort. Chuck and his son Ben Work their butts off to bring it to fruition.

    Did you attend any of the seminars? They are worth the price of admission alone.

    I can tell you that we had an unbelievable show and I was extrememly happy with it. When I took breaks and walked up and down the aisles I saw a lot of smiling faces. It was even better than last year and I thought last year was the besrt in the last four. Let's keep everything positive. We all want the sport that we love to grow and the only way to do that is to keep things positive!

    1. Hello and thank you for commenting. I'm not sure who you are, but welcome to the site. If you get some time, please read the post I made AFTER this one. It will clear things up for you. I do agree that my post above was somewhat negative but I did clarify in the next post.

      I have no doubt that a ton of work went in to the show. It was my third year attending so yes, I've been to alot of the seminars in previous years. I went to the show this year primarily to look for good deals and to check out some new tying ideas. Everyone goes for their own reasons. I didn't get any good deals. These things happen. I still appreciate the fact that there is a show every year and I will probably continue to go.

      At the end of the day, I'm just an average fisherman and a mediocre tyer who blogged about his experience. Didn't think this many people would read it, but everyone can have their own opinion. I'm not trying to ruin the show for everyone.