I’ve written these posts almost every year for the last five or six years. I love the Northwest Fly Tying Expo and if you haven’t gone or haven’t gone in a while then you need to go and here’s why.
The list of tyers is very impressive and as far as sheer numbers go this is the largest fly tying expo in the country with around 200 fly tyers there is a little something for everyone. Every year the classic tyers show up and they are a well of knowledge, but also we get new tyers that bring innovations and modern techniques to the table. Here are a few tyers that you must watch share their craft.
Steven Fernandez: There are only a few winners of the IFFF Buz Buszek Fly Tying Award and Steven is one of them. His mastery behind the vise is rivaled by no one. His trout flies are absolutely perfect and personally mind blowing. As far as full dress flies and flies resembling classic salmon and steelhead flies he has developed the pompadour wing fly. Something that has to be seen in person and very hard to explain in writing and appreciate photos of.
Shawn West: Shawn is one of the few deer hair bass bug tyers at the show. He has innovated over the years and brings a wealth of knowledge on the topic. You’ll know he’s there by the sound of his vacuum. If you want to up your deer hair game he’s one of the guys to talk to. He sometimes brings a vise and lets you tie along with him. Really a fun guy to talk and joke with.
Garren Wood: If you want to see some quality, clean, and unique flies Garren has that. Making his own fly tying material to tie quill body trout flies and weaving bodies adding a modern twist to classic steelhead flies that very few people have ever done. Defentaily a pioneer of unique and quality flies. He also dabbles in realistic flies and brings some of his stoneflies to the show as well. Really cool stuff,
Chris Williams: A very talented dry fly tyer and a master with hackle. If you want to up your game when it comes to dry flies then he is the man for you. Not only are his dry flies great they are also very precise and clean. He’s also a Whiting pro member and can educate you on where your hackle comes from. He is a hoot and great person to talk to.
Garrett Lesko: A skilled modern deer hair stacker. Garrett brings some unique flare to the fly tying and deer hair world. Big flies are the name of the game when he’s at the show tying divers for large and smallmouth bass along with articulated 100% fishable bird flies. His knowledge on the topic of how to fish and tie these flies is insurmountable. He also ties flies for fishermen going on exotic trips that include but not limited to: Argentina, Christmas Island, Mongolia, Bolivia, Columbia, and many more.
Sean Dahlquist: Master at the bench for sure Shawn ties some of the best traditional steelhead flies I’ve personally seen. They compare to very few in quality and precision. If you want to see a master at work setting wings, wrapping hackles, and laying in eyes he is the one to watch.
I could keep on going and going with all the tyers there. It’s taken me years to see all of them tie flies there but totally worth it. Some other tyers to see are Jackson Leong, John Shewey, Hal Gordon, John Kreft, Rocky Hammond, Mike Marlatt, Dave McNeese, Royce Strearns, Nick Riggs, and many more. If you have something specific you’re after I’ll refer you to the Featured Tyers page at nwexpo.com. There you’ll find full detailed synopsis of many more tyers and probably one that you would be most interested in seeing. There as well is the full schedule on when and where they are tying for all 200 tyers.
When I came to the show many years ago it blew me away. The tyers are the highlight for sure and the show does focus on them, but the vendors shouldn’t be passed up. There are fly tying material stands that offer an incredible selection of naturals and synthetics that most of the time aren’t available to us tyers all the time.. Then there are some apparel companies there that offer a unique look that makes you stand out. Make sure you lap it a few time to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
Casting and Classes
The big highlight of the show is Maxine McCormick. She is the current World Champion Fly Caster at only 15. This isn’t just world champion for women or just kids. She is the best in the world period. On Friday night she’ll be a speaker at the the banquet that is open to the general public as long as you have a ticket. She has been profiled by the New York Times as well other national publications. She is very skilled and worth talking to and watching. She’ll be doing two demos on Saturday and in the off time she’ll be at her booth meeting anyone who wants to talk to her. She isn’t the only one doing casting demos or classes Mary Ann Dozer, Dwight Klemin, and Al Buhr are just a few that will also be sharing their skill at the show. If you want to up your single or two hand game in accuracy or distance these are the people to look out for.
Other classes are available from thread control to stacking deer hair demos. You want to sign up for these as soon as possible. They fill up fast and they are first come first serve. Please visit nwexpo.com and go to the class section linked here for more information and availability. We’re getting down to the wire so sign up quickly.
This show is great and with the bad weather upon us this year it’s a great way to get your fly fishing and fly tying fix without having to brave the elements. I look forward to this every year and love seeing familiar and new faces. This comes once a year and it’s a one of a kind event so I hope to see you there.