I spent yesterday horsing around at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, New Jersey. It’s always a nice thrill to get to break out of the winter doldrums for a day and get to feel some good fishing vibes.
A trio of us headed down from NYC, about a 40 minute drive, to hang around with the Veteran Anglers of New York folks and spot some bargains, refill the gear bins and limber up our wallets. I made it out of there relatively unscathed, with a ton of hooks and the feathers and fur you see above (grouse, starling, hen grizzly, muskrat) and not a whole lot else. I picked up Jay Fullum‘s new book, and had a few words with him. I met Rob Snowhite, and can’t wait to check out his podcast. I listened to Lefty Kreh run through some hilarious anecdotes while he waited to start his casting demo. And talked to a fellow who can introduce me to the right outfitters, should I wind up in Argentina later this year. And I saw good old Al Haxton and Charlie Gregory from the Michigan Fly Fishing Club, which once again represented en masse at the show.
Mostly it’s a good reminder of how close-knit the fly fishing industry is. Everyone seems to know everyone else, and once you get beyond the mere punters you realize that it’s a business built on relationships, like any other.
Notably absent was Orvis, which was a little strange. Orvis’ frontman for community stuff, the venerable Tom Rosenbauer, was there, but the brand had no real presence. Rob and I chatted about this briefly, but I’m not sure entirely why this was. Perhaps because there were 5-6 fly shops there that stock Orvis products, and it doesn’t want to mess with its dealers? But certainly a corporate booth, with some new prototype rods, and some super sport-specific stuff would make sense. Same with Patagonia. One of the shops had a load of coats and clothing, but I saw no Patagonia waders. Being a leader means being at things like Somerset, which is why core users might gravitate to Simms or TFO and leave Orvis and Patagonia to dilettantes.