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2021 Branson Fly Fishing Expo

2021 Fly Tying Awards

Last summer I attended the 2021 Branson Fly Fishing Expo and it went really well. The earlier sessions were somewhat lightly attended but the later sessions were pretty busy.

I spent the Thursday afternoon session tying Catskills-style dry flies and managed to demonstrate how to tie 6 of the 8 flies in one of my 5×7 Framed Flies. I must say that even I was impressed with how my divided wings, made from a wood duck flank feather, turned out on all 6 flies. After the session, all the fly tyers and vendors were invited to Branson’s History of Fishing Museum for a meet-and-greet event. If you ever want to see a frog harness or a minnow tube lure that’s definitely the place to go.

On Friday, I attempted to tie all 18 trout flies for an 8×10 Framed Flies display. That should be doable for me over an 8-hour span but no such luck. I managed to tie only 6 flies while spending most of the day gabbing with all the visitors. It was still a very interesting day though. What was interesting for me was that a beautifully-framed collection of last year’s three award-winning flies (one of which being mine) was auctioned off and it raised $75! Another cool thing was that this year’s seven award-winning flies (three of which being mine) will be put on display at that same History of Fly Fishing Museum for a year(!) and then will be auctioned off at the 2022 Expo.

On Saturday, I put all my frames and other projects aside and tied my award-winning flies exclusively. I hadn’t thought about it ahead of time but each of the three have a unique style or technique that aren’t very commonly used by most fly tyers. Here are those unique features:

  • Woven Polish Nymph: This fly uses two colors of embroidery floss for the body which are woven using a technique called the Shuttle Weave. The general idea is that you grab a strand of floss in each hand and don’t let go until you are done. It’s pretty cool. During the demo, I did discover that the link and QR code on my fly tying card for this fly were broken. Since then, I found a new link and updated the card so now you can watch a good video of the weave technique. See my Fly Tying Cards page for the card and the link.
  • Fontinalis Fin: This is a wet fly from Ray Bergman’s book titled “Trout”. See my Wet Flies page for more information on that book. Knowing that the word fontinalis is the species name for the brook trout, the fly’s name literally means “Brook Trout Fin”. What it is trying to imitate is the lower rear fin of a brook trout. Thus, the wings on the fly are made from wide strips of orange goose feather barbs, with one barb of black and three barbs of white attached to them. This technique is known as “marrying” feathers.
  • Western Green Drake: This fly is a somewhat realistic imitation of an adult mayfly with the stated common name – its Latin name is Drunella grandis from the Ephemerellidae family of mayflies. What makes this fly realistic are the style of wings known as Wally Wings. Another interesting fact about the name is “drake” is actually the Greek word for “dragon”. And yes, these mayflies really do look like tiny dragons. To make the dragon wings, a single mallard flank feather is tied down and split at the stem to form the two D-shaped upright wings. It’s pretty cool, for sure.

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