2-05-05 & 2-06-05 - The Tinley Park Fishing
and Outdoors Show, and the Chicago Fly Fishing Show
Just like last year, another weekend spent not
ACTUALLY fishing but hanging out at the Tinley
Park Fishing and Outdoors Show. As always, it's a great show.
I think the best way to sum up the TPFOS is to
say that first, all the funds raised from the show go to the high
school boosters; in other words it's a charitable show. Entry fees
are minimal ($4 this time around). Vendor booth fees are also VERY
reasonable (I think they start at $75). This show is the show for
every angler at every level.
If forced to describe the show's features, let
me start by saying it is a huge "flea market" of fishing!
Lots of used and new equipment to be had at good prices.
I'd also have to point out that the TPFOS is a
great place to find folks who are new on the scene. Vendors who
may not be able to set up at a fancy show can easily afford the
booth price. In other words, look to the TPFOS to find some up-and-comers.
For example, last year one of the biggest surprises was Route
37 Fly Rods.
This year was no different; Matt & Josh were
there offering lots of gear as well as promoting Matt's Reel Repair
and Drift Guiding ventures. Matt & Josh are deadly in the high
flows...when the water isn't fly fishing friendly these are the
guys catchin' the big ones!
The other big surprise was Mike and Jamie of CustomFish.com
- I had actually been emailing with Jamie the week before the show
- imagine my surprise when Rich told me there were these guys I
needed to go see with these awesome large print work (such as Life-Size
Trophy photos for your wall). I left the Fat Booth right then and
there to go introduce myself, not having any prior clue they'd be
at the same show I was at. In any case, I found the folks who can
print my stuff HUGE and print irregular sizes (like my panoramics).
Meanwhile back at the FAT
Booth, if you were a fly angler ours was probably the place to come
see! Last year I spent the 2 days tying; this year Bob Brown (aka.
took that role and man did he produce. First, Bob put together a
beautiful display housing many of his own Spey
and Dee fly patterns as well as some timeless flies (i.e. the
Grant). It was an eye catching display (and at his asking price
of $450, it would've been a steal for anyone who purchased it).
Visitors on Saturday got to marvel at Bob tying a pattering similar
to the Orange
Heron; on Sunday Bob spent much of the morning creating his
married wing pattern, the American Eagle.
as always was there to talk about guiding the SE
WI Tribs for Salmon and Steelhead as well as the upcomming 2005
Iowa Fly Schools. While stuck inside, the weather outside got
up to 55F - the spring run may be starting early this year - I know
both FAT and I had our minds in other places (not the tribs, but
bed...lack of sleep all around). Anyway, I'll be at all of the IA
Fly School dates this year to help out, so check 'em out. You can't
get a better deal, especially if you're just getting into fly fishing.
So why was I at the Fat Booth this year? Well,
I brought with 10 of my custom rods
that are currently available for purchase - I figured "why
not"; yet another little something at the TPFOS for the fly
angler in all of you.
But this report isn't just about the Tinley Park
Show; the same weekend in the same town a second show was going
on; the Chicago
Fly Fishing Show. Technically, it's a "NEW" show.
More precisely, this year's Fly Fishing Show in Chicago was put
on by a different set of organizers from the previous show held
at Drury Lane.
Sunday afternoon I got to head over to the CFFS;
my main reason for going was the PEOPLE who were going to be there.
Compared to the TPFOS, the CFFS is a glitzy, glamourous trade show.
Yes, there's still stuff to be bought and sold, but with booth prices
starting around the $750 level you're not going to find the up and
After paying my $12 to walk in, I wasn't surprised
by what I saw. As I expected, it was basically the same group of
vendors as prior shows. Mostly established companies that have been
around for a while. I'd have to say that perhaps as much as 50%
of the vendors were lodges; if you're in the market for a "trip
of a lifetime" package well then this may have been a great
show for ya.
One of the best things going on at the prior Chicago
shows was the tying area; this year I either didn't see it or it
was outright absent. Kinda disapointing. There were the usual casting
demonstrations as well as the opportunity to test cast rods, even
the kind of rods you'd never be able to afford. Presentations were
going on around the clock, so if that's your thing you could easily
spend a day there, if not the whole weekend.
Overall though, the CFFS (in my humble opinion)
continued to be mostly about pay-to-play; local businesses simply
can't afford the price tag to set up shop for the weekend. For example,
while Joseph Meyer of One
More Cast was at the show, the lack of a One More Cast booth
was readily apparent. There's something lacking in a CHICAGO Fly
Fishing Show when GREAT local business don't participate, and I
suspect that's mostly due to the cost-prohibitive nature of the
show. While there's great stuff to be had (i.e. Bob got to hand
pick a Kingfisher Skin for $25) much of this show is about mass-marketing
and perhaps maintaining that elitist part of Fly Fishing that I
just don't like.
That said, I again went to the CFFS to simply get
to spend some time with my buddies off the water. It was great to
run into Frank Nardo of Troutwalker
Guide Service (formerly Nardo's Fly Fishing Guides) and the
current president of the Gary
Borger TU Chapter which servers the Northern Suburbs of Chicago.
Heck I think it has been almost a year since we last got to talk
Over at Dan's Tackle I got to visit with Heath
Sershen (HDS) of Sershen
Media. You may remember him from the Pet Fly Smackdown...he's
the 2005 Smokin' Tahoe MVP (for losing too us ;). He's definitely
in for a rematch this coming winter. While Heath spent most of his
time tying, his brother Shawn was also there in support of MongoFly.com
and his own custom rod building efforts. As always, the Sershen
clan is a pleasure to spend time with; I even got to put my hands
on the Sage 00wt. fly rod. In a word, "Delicate". I also
had the pleasure of meeting Bob Long Jr. who is currently organizing
the 2005 season of Mayor Dayey's Fish 'N Kids program - if I could
find more info online trust me, I'd link it - it's sounds like a
As mentioned before, I had hoped to run into Joseph
and was glad to find him at the Chicago
TU booth. After watching Joseph tie a couple really nice inverted
parachute patterns, I surprisingly got involved in a hearty debate
mission vs. FFF's
mission with one of the EDTU members (I must appologize as I
can't remember your name). We agreed to disagree, but in reality
I would like to state that for the record, my personal beliefs put
me more in line with FFF's goals and ideals.
Despite this disagreement, I must say that my intial
conversation at the show spurred an ongoing discussion online with
Joseph. This email exchange has opened my eyes more to the fact
that TU's narrow mission is NOT in dissonance with FFF's broader
mission. While Joseph and are are still debating the details, despite
our differences of opinions, I still generally support and appreciate
what TU does for our resources. Perhaps having yourself challenged,
engaging in discussions such as this, is one of the greatest benefits
one can derive from an event that otherwise I'd probably consider
a waste of time.