The judging of the 2023 Sowbug Roundup fly tying contest has been completed and I had the fortune of winning THREE fly tying awards: Best In Show, Best Warm Water Fly, and Best Wet Fly. All of the winning flies were mounting in a really nice frame and the end result looks like this.
Best In Show
At the top of the frame is my salmon/steelhead fly entry, the Dusty Miller. It is a very old and fairly ornate salmon fly of European origin. This fly was given the “Tom Schmuecker Best In Show” award, being voted the top fly in the entire contest. This year is the first year that the award became named for Tom Schmuecker, the president of Wapsi – a fly tying material company located in Mountain Home, AR. Unfortunately, Tom passed away a few weeks before the contest but his son Joe was able to attend the banquet and present the award. Very sad.
Best Warm Water Fly
At the bottom center of the frame is my warm water fly entry, the Dahlberg Diver. This fly won the Best Warm Water Fly award. It’s a fairly large fly, being just over 6 inches long, so I think that’s what got the attention of the judges. The head of the fly was made with tied/packed/trimmed deer hair of three different colors and the tail contains some really nice looking grizzly dyed saddle hackles.
Best Wet Fly
In the top row of the frame just to the right of center is my wet fly entry, the McGinty. This fly won the Best Wet Fly award. It was invented many years ago by someone named McGinty. The body of the fly is wrapped with alternating strands of yellow and black chenille, making it resemble a bumble bee. The wings consist of feathers taken from the iridescent blue/white patches on a pair of mallard wings. They are quite delicate and it is not easy to get them tied onto the fly and still look decent. These wings look okay (not great) but they were still good enough to win an award.
Presentation of Awards
The fly tying awards were presented at a banquet called The Sowbug Shindig. Here I am pictured with John Berry, a fishing guide in the Mountain Home area, who was one of the judges for the contest.