Did any of you happen to catch the Fly Fishing Rendezvous a week ago? What a weekend! If you attended, you know what I’m talking about. If you didn’t make it or if this is the first time you’ve heard of the Rendezvous, let me back up and give you a bit of an overview.
All the white words are links… be sure to check them out!
THE VENDOR SITUATION:
The Fly Fishing Rendezvous (FFR) is an immersive expo put on by the awesome folks over at Ascent Fly Fishing. The FFR welcomes everyone from vendors making sales to environmental groups just wanting to spread the good word. Vendors are selling everything from $29 polarized sunglasses to $2,000 custom designed reels. Clubs were a common theme; Colorado Women Flyfishers had a booth (go lady anglers!), Project Healing Waters was well represented, as was the International Federation of Fly Fishers, among others. On the affordable side with gear was my ever-favorite Blobfish with the aforementioned polarized lenses, AnglHer— whose shirts I LOVE (so soft!!), and RepYourWater— gotta have one of them hats. You gotta. In the medium-price range, I checked out fly rods by SaraBella, and was THIIIS close to buying a Tankara rod from Zen Fly Fishing on the spot. On the higher end, Dave Scadden Paddlesports (DSP) had fully inflated inflatable rafts on display, Blue Quill Angler who was selling Simms stuff had a whole booth of their gear (men’s stuff only, for some reason…?), and Art of Angling had their GORGEOUS fly fishing inspired paintings on sale. Fly Fishing Rendezvous truly has something for everyone.
NO NEED TO BUY STUFF!
Strapped for cash? Tons of people came just for the shows. Outside the exhibit hall Master Certified Casting Instructor Jonathan Walter gave individuals tips in between his master classes. Right out on the front lawn you could see hands-on demonstrations on common casting errors, how to cast in tight quarters and how to improve accuracy and distance. Do you even know how much that private lesson set would cost you?!?! Me either, because I couldn’t even afford to google it.
Want to learn from the experts? Almost 2 dozen speakers gave presentations on everything from basic fly fishing techniques to reinforcing your aquatic entomology knowledge. Pat Dorsey gave presentations about fly fishing Colorado’s best trout streams (I think he’s more than qualified on that one…) and fly fishing in the winter. Duane Redfored covered “Mastering Technical Water”, and Adam Beedee taught us how to sight fish for trophy trout. And these are just a FEW of the topics, guys! So much knowledge being dropped.
If you’re more into tying flies, there was Rick Takahashi, Carl Pennington, Juan Ramirez, and Jason Haddix. Click here to see an entire list of the amazing tiers— quite impressive! Chris Krueger demoed how to tie Caddis patterns for the Rocky Mountain region (very helpful to us local folk,) Takahashi tied Chironomid Midges for still water, and Bug Guy Robert Younghanz showed us how to match the hatch with his favorite fly patterns. Not only were these guys demoing their ties, but they were tying at their own booths ALL DAY, and you could just walk right up to them and ask questions, and observe their expert techniques. Priceless.
THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS…
I had two favorite things about the Fly Fishing Rendezvous.
FAVORITE THING #1: The first was how personal it was, and how friendly all the vendors were. I recently went to a male-dominated tech expo for work and was worried that like the tech expo, a fly fishing expo might be just another rendition of the ‘old boys club’. NOPE. Every single vendor was friendly, engaging, informative, and never talked down to me when I asked questions. The folks at SaraBella took so much time to show me their rods, explain exactly how they were made, and even brought me outside to give a couple rods a try. And this was after I explained I probably wouldn’t be purchasing one that day– they still answered every question I had about how to select a proper fly rod when I was ready for a new one and didn’t rush me for a second.
AnglHer hosts trips, provides oudoor ed classes and makes some dope apparel (which I definitely bought.) Owner Kelli Jackson hung out with me for awhile and invited me fishing. Ummm, YES please. The guys at the Ecological Resource Consultants talked to me about some stuff I didn’t really understand, but they are super enthusiastic about river restoration, and I am on board with THAT. From club reps to rod reps, everyone was personable and really took their time to talk WITH me, not just TO me. I didn’t feel like a customer, I felt like one of them. I felt like I belonged.
FAVORITE THING #2: Almost all the vendors were local businesses and you could literally walk up and meet the owners. People who start their own businesses are so bad@$$. It takes smarts, courage, business acumen and a uniquely creative idea to start your own company. Peter Stitcher did it when he started Ascent Fly Fishing and River Oracle. Amazing. And now he’s gathered the best of the best in fly fishing small business and made it affordable to have an expo booth right next to Simms. I don’t see many trout themed artists being able to afford booths at ISE, but after a few rounds of exposure at events like the Rendezvous, soon these small business folks won’t be able to call themselves so small anymore. And I’ll be able to say I knew these guys back when.
Whether you’re an angler looking to spend a weekend learning from the best of the best while stocking up on new gear, or a vendor eyeing an affordable place to sell your wares to a target audience, the Fly Fishing Rendezvous is the place to be. Held annually in the fall, it’s only $8 if you register online or $10 at the door, and boy is it worth the cover. If you’re interested in attending as a vendor– I don’t know anything about that. Ask Peter by clicking here.
If you’ve been to the Fly Fishing Rendezvous before, what was your favorite booth? Did you learn any cool tips you’d like to share? Hit us up in the comments below and let us know if you’re in for next year!
We’ll see you there.
– C. Egli