The WNC Fly Fishing Expo
by Doc Trout
I attended the Western Carolina Fly Fishing Exp held in Fletcher, N.C. recently and, while I am extremely glad to see that fly fishing here in the Southeast and especially here in western North Carolina has gained enough popularity that it warrants having a fly fishing show, I am afraid that I was rather disappointed with the whole affair. You see, upon first entering the building and taking a gander, my first impression was "is this all there is to it?" and unfortunately, a further perusal of the isles did little to improve my first impression.
While I did see all of the advertised vendors there, I was also expecting to see representatives from each of the major fly rod companies there with the entire line of each brand on hand and available for us to cast. Instead, what I saw were single, poorly stocked, racks with a meager selection of demo rods at best. In addition, the representatives from the local fly shops were just as bad with the exception of one in particular who did have a fair selection of necessities. However, one item that I was searching for in particular was a stream thermometer to replace the one that I lost out of my vest recently. You know they type with the long, black, metal case with window in the side and the glass, mercury-filled, thermometer encased inside. But, not one single vendor had one for sale at the show! Now, this strikes me as a very basic item that should have been available from at least one shop there if not several of them but it seems that I am wrong. In addition, at one point I discovered this perfect little TFO fly reel that I had not yet seen called a BVK series. Now, I upon seeing this reel, I was immediately fascinated because the one on display was both very small and very light and yet it was also a large arbor reel. But, most importantly, it was green; which I need to match the finish on my custom East Branch GLX 8ft. 6in. 5wt. However, when I asked the gentleman there about the reel's capacity, he looked at me with a blank look and told me that he had no idea what size range of fly lines it was designed for let alone what the backing capacity for each one was. Now, I can understand this because this is very technical information and people who own and/or work fly shops have more important things to do than memorize trivial data about the products they sell. But, when I asked him if he had any literature such as a brochure or an owner's manual so that I could look this information up for myself, he informed me that he did not. So, at that point, I left that particular booth very dissatisfied.
On the bright side, I did finally get to meet Don Kirk who is the mastermind and driving force behind the new online magazine "Southern Trout". For those of you who are not familiar with this new magazine, Don's vision was to create a free publication that focused specifically and only on fly fishing for Trout and Smallmouth Bass ("Bronzeback Trout") here in the Southeast. Thus, it is the first publication of its kind and after publishing the third issue in July of this year, it has acquired a dedicated following of avid readers who anxiously await the publication of the next issue. In addition to meeting and conversing with Don, I got to listen to a very interesting presentation given by Don about the history of fly fishing here in the Southeast which presented a lot of information that was heretofore unknown to me.
So, although I was a bit disappointed with the show (especially after all of the hype) , I did discover a new fly reel and a new fly line, I got to play with at least one of the new Orvis Superfine Touch four-piece rods, and I got to meet my editor. Consequently, was almost worth the hour and a half drive to get there and the $10.00 entrance fee.