Fly Fishing Extravaganza


For the last month I had developed a bad case of fly fishing blahs. So bad I did not even care to read my fishing magazines.

Yesterday, I found the cure to the blahs. TheBlue Quill Angler’s annual Fly Fishing Extravaganza. The excellent professional staff of the Blue Quill were there to answer questions, help fit waders, wading boots and other gear. They also answered questions about casting, fly tying or other fly fishing questions. The event gathers representatives from the big name gear manufacturers who assist with casting instruction, demonstrate new gear and present fly fishing seminars.

In attendance were Van Rollo representing Sage Fly Fishing, Rio Fly Lines and Smith Optics. Mike Clough from Orvis and Scott Harkins for Winston Rods. Authors John Gierach and A. K. Best were there. Barry Reynolds and John Barr were scheduled but I did not see them. I was probably outside testing fly rods.

Presentations were made during the day by Landon Mayer, Bob Dye, Van Rollo, Pat Dorsey and others. Pat Dorsey’s last presentation on Fishing Tailwaters was an excellent way to finish the main event. Blue Quill Guides Jonathan Keisling and Bob Zasuly manned the Sage Casting Analyzer which got a work out during the day. The Sage Casting Analyzer is a top Sage Rod coupled to a computer to produce a read out of your casting style. It analyzes 8 factors against an expert cast. (The only one I did really well on was a rod creep of 0.) Lots of work to do before the FFF certified casting exam.

Mike Clough of Orvis rigged up a Helios 9′ 5wt 4pc for me to cast. I had mentioned the two times I had tried the Helos before, it had not done much for me. Pat Dorsey picked a reel that he knew would balance out the rod correctly. So down the hill to cast. Some good ones and some bad ones. Then Mike was standing at my side. “Keep your elbow down farther and shorten your casting arc.”, he said. Mike took my elbow to demonstrate. “Don’t power so hard on the forward stoke.” (One of the really bad faults on my Sage analysis). “Try and make the backcast slightly higher than the forward cast.” This will let gravity help increase line speed without so much effort. (Now this one was not as easy as it sounds.)

But I worked at putting it all together especially keeping the elbow down and making the backcast and forward cast speed closer to the same. Result my 40 foot one handed casts started rolling over with a nice tight U shaped loop. (If you are ever at a fly fishing show, watch Van Rollo or Mike cast, they are good.) This time around, I decided I liked the Helios when it is properly balanced.

Also tried a Winston Boron BII-MX 4 wt, 5 wt and 6 wt in a 9 foot length. I did not like the 6 wt because it felt too stiff and heavy to me. But I don’t fish large rivers nor throw streamers much either. However, the 4 wt was great. Someone called it a little noodlie but I loved it. Great casts out to 40 and over feet. Good line feel and reserve power. The 5 wt was awesome. Excellent line feel, a bit stiffer than the 4 wt which is to be expected. Lots of power and line feel. This rod was equipped with a Scientific Angler’s Sharkskin line and could shoot line like crazy in the hands of a better caster than I am.

A highlight of the day, among many, was Blue Quill Guide Gary Okizaki, Gary educated me on Winston Rods of which he owns a bunch and I learned some slick czech nymph fly tying tricks while talking to him. Gary has a great sense of humor and we laughed a lot while sharing stories. Gary has a really nice laid back style about him, life and fly fishing.

A satisfying lunch was prepared by Blue Quill guide Jay Core and enjoyed by all. The finale to the day was the raffle drawing. Several Fishpond products, a Ross International Fly Rod, a half dozen fly lines and the last drawing was a Ross Vexisus reel loaded with a Sharkskin line and backing. A very nice prize indeed.

A special thanks to Jim Cannon, Steve Parrot, Pat Dorsey and the pro staff at Blue Quill Angler for a wonderful day Saturday. Their enthusiasm, knowledge and fun during the day yesterday definitely helped to cure my fly fishing blahs. I am ready for runoff to be down some and the fishing to begin.

Take a moment to read through the guide profiles here This is excellent reading. If you want to book a guided trip this year, the Blue Quill Angler has some awesome guides.

Tight Lines and Good Fishing,
Marshall, Editor
Alaska Trout Fishing Information