Expo celebrates Utah fly-fishing
Experts sit on their chairs late into the night, wrapping feathers, dubbing, and other fabric with a small thread around a hook, hoping to create something original that one day might fool an unsuspecting trout or bass.
Their hands oftentimes look weathered and robust, incapable of creating something so small, intricate and beautiful.
Yet, when watching these fly-tying masters, their eyes remain focused, their hands flutter with rapid skill and the observer may stand back in awe.
"It’s really cool to watch them tie some of the cool patterns," said Jason Haslam, the vice president of operations for the Stonefly Society, a Utah chapter of Trout Unlimited.
"It’s a life-long pursuit," Haslam continued. "It takes a long time to learn how to tie all these great flies."
For the first time in Utah, the Stonefly Society and Cache Valley Anglers, both chapters of Trout Unlimited, will host the Wasatch Fly Tying and Fly Fishing Expo.
The Expo will be held Saturday, May 19 at the Karen Gail Miller Convention Center at Salt Lake Community College.
"There’s probably at least a half dozen expos in the West that are Trout Unlimited sponsored," Haslam said.
The Stonefly Society will try to emulate the expo in Idaho Falls.
"They’ve been doing it for 14 years," Haslam said. "They are the best at it; they’ve been doing it for so long."
Haslam guessed that the expo in Idaho Falls grosses about $100,000 for its two-day event.
"They’ve been so successful, so we thought, ‘Why can’t we do it down here?’ That’s what inspired us. If they can do it, we can do it," Haslam said. "With our population base in Salt Lake, we have such good fly tyers here, why not take advantage of that and try to do something to raise funds for Trout Unlimited and celebrate fly-fishing in Utah?"
Big draws to the expo are the fly-tying artists that showcase their patterns and give demonstrations.
"That’s what makes it a success," Haslam said. "It’s a unique opportunity to come and see some of these great fly-tyers. Some of these guys are unbelievable to see them tie. It’s all about the flies; it’s a very unique opportunity."
Haslam said there will be about 50 tyers, most of them from Utah but also some well-known tyers from surrounding states.
"If you are into the Utah fly fishing scene, you’d definitely recognize some of the names," Haslam said.
There will be more than just fly-tyers at the expo, however. There will be casting clinics, fly-fishing workshops, activities for kids, 11 vendors and drawings throughout the day. In the evening, the expo will conclude with a banquet and auction featuring author and fly-fishing guide Landon Mayer as its keynote speaker.
Haslam said people can learn a lot about the industry at the expo, but another important part is the social aspect and meeting "fellow fishing buddies," he said,
"It brings everyone together and gets everyone on the same page," said Cory Bastian, a guide for 4 Seasons Fly Fishers in Heber. "That’s one of the most important aspects of this expo."
4 Seasons Fly Fishers will be one of the vendors there showcasing new Lamson reels and talking about an area of the Green River they are permitted to guide on. Austin Haacke from 4 Seasons will also be giving tying demonstrations.
"We have a lot of fishing outfitters in the area," Bastian said, "but we are not really a community of fly-fisherman. As the area grows and the fly-fishing is becoming increasingly popular, it’s a great opportunity to get everyone in the community a chance to show what we got here. This is our showcase."
Chris Wistner, a Jans Mountain Outfitter’s fly-fishing guide in Park City, agrees. He often has gone to a similar expo in Colorado to see the vendors and new product lines, but enjoys the camaraderie more.
"You can sit in with some of the older fly-fishing guides and tyers," Wistner said. "It’s mainly about getting together with other people that are passionate about fly-fishing."
Possibly the main goal of the Stonefly Society, however, is to raise funds to clean up streambeds, restore riparian areas and re-establish native species into Utah’s waters.
"Even if we had half of (Idaho Falls’) success, that would be awesome," Haslam said. "We could raise some good money to put toward good projects."
Currently, the organization is working on projects in Diamond Fork and Timber canyons, Strawberry River and Reservoir, East Canyon’s lakes and streams, the Provo and Weber rivers.
"More and more, open land is being overtaken by private developments," Haslam said. "That means they will be building roads into some of those pristine areas. That’s one thing that we are against. That could impact a stream or a river. Especially if they are upstream or close to those rivers, who knows what effect they can have on a stream or reservoir?"
George "Squid" Sideris, a buyer and fly-fishing guide for Jans Mountain Outfitters, used to be heavily involved in the Park City Chapter of Trout Unlimited. He understands the constant need to maintain pristine areas in Utah.
"We did a lot of stream restoration and habitat improvement on East Canyon Creek and also along Snyderville," Sideris said. "If we want to continue the habitat for trout and other wildlife, it’s ongoing; it’s something that needs to be done forever."
Bastian said Trout Unlimited projects are needed to improve the resource, especially since the industry is growing quickly.
"The future growth of this area through tourism and people coming here for vacation, will be reliant on us continuing to take care of these things," Bastian said. "They want to see the beautiful mountains and wildlife populations to continue."
The Wasatch Fly Tying and Fly Fishing Expo will take place Saturday, May 19 at the Karen Gail Miller Convention Center at Salt Lake Community College fom 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the banguet starting at 7 p.m. General Admission to the public is free. To register for classes, banquet and/or drawings, log on to http://www.stoneflysociety.org .
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Expo workshops include:
*Tying Provo River & Green River Patterns with Curtis Fry
*Simple But Effective Flies" tying class with Bob Trowbridge
*Tying Foam Flies with Stefanie Jonesott
*Czech Nymphing with Ryan Barnes
*Entomology 101: Match the Hatch with Jason Haslam
*Stillwater Fly Fishing on Henrys Lake and Sheridan Lake with Lynn Scott
*Pontoon Boat Techniques with Dave Scadden
*Intermediate & Advanced Casting Techniques with Mickie Anderson
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