The judging for the 2023 Branson Expo Fly Tying Contest is complete and I am humbly able to report that I won three more fly tying awards – Best Wet Fly, Best Articulating Streamer, and Best In Show.
Best Wet Fly
The first award winner was my wet fly entry, the Pink Lady. This fly won the Best Wet Fly award. It is a “wet” variation of an old Catskills Style dry fly of the same name.
The body of this fly is wrapped with pink floss and ribbed with gold tinsel. The tail is made from a golden pheasant neck feather. The wings consist of slips from a pair of gray mallard wing feathers. They are delicate and it is not easy to get them tied onto the fly and still look decent. These wings look pretty good and were good enough to win an award, in my humble opinion.
Best Articulating Streamer
The second award winner was my articulating streamer entry, the Big-Eyed Sempermouse. This fly won the Best Articulating Streamer award. An articulating streamer is a streamer pattern with one or more articulating joints in the middle which give a more realistic presentation in the water. This particular fly has one joint in it which was formed by connecting the rear hook to just the shank portion of the front hook with a nylon braid.
The body of this mouse fly pattern is made from several wraps of synthetic fur which was made by the Semperfli company, which contributes to the name of the fly. The tail is made from gray chenille and the head is made from 6mm thick foam. Oh, and it has big eyes.
Best In Show
The third award went to my Dusty Miller. This fly won the Best In Show award. That’s quite an honor to know that I tied the overall best fly in the contest!
This fly pattern is a very complicated salmon fly and it is certainly a very “busy” looking fly. The list of materials for this one is so long that it is hard to fit on one of my fly tying cards. Needless to say it takes a good bit of time at the fly tying bench to complete – a couple of hours at least for each one.
This one also happens to be a repeat winner, so to speak, because it also won the Best In Show award earlier this year at the Sowbug Roundup.
The Upcoming Expo
I will be attending the Branson Fly Fishing Expo on Thursday, July 27th where I will be demonstrating a few fly tying techniques to anyone who would like to see them.
Another day, another fly tying contest. It kind of seems that way anyway. Preparing an entry for each contest division, and tying two flies each definitely takes some time and planning. This time it is for the Branson Fly Fishing Expo to be held July 27-29 in Branson Missouri. Branson is really a fun place to visit in the summer. There are a lot of things to see and do.
If you’ve read some of my past blog posts, you would know that I really enjoy fly tying contests. As I did earlier this year, I decided to enter every single category in the contest. I really enjoy going out and finding new fly patterns that I had never tied before in order to complete my lineup.
The entries were due on June 1st. The judging should be completed by July 1st.
Here are my entries for this year’s fly tying contest.
Reason For Entering
A good-looking, moderately difficult mayfly nymph pattern and one I had never tied before. Great legs!
Regan’s Mayfly Spinner
A very impressive-looking dry fly pattern and one I had tied only once before.
This is one of the nicest looking wet flies in my “Classic Wet Fly Collection”.
An absolutely amazing looking fly and one I had only tied once before. It is indeed a large and awesome fly.
Big Eyed Sempermouse
This is one of the only articulating fly patterns I am familiar with. It turned out okay this time.
Braided Blue Damselfly
I love how this one looks when it is completed. The “damsel blue” color is eye-catching.
I entered a smaller salmon fly pattern for this category and saved the big one for category #9.
I entered this one before but wasn’t happy with it. This year’s entry is better. The red bucktail looks amazing!
Best In Show
This fly won a Best In Show award earlier this year. For this contest it is a category so I tied and entered it..
The Lineup for 2023
The lineup is a little hard to follow because of the size of some of these flies but it goes in “top down, left to right” order with three flies in each column.
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 grandisfrom 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.
A few weeks ago I submitted 5 pairs of my tied flies to the 2021 Missouri Trout Fisherman’s Association’s Fly Tying Contest. The results have now been published and, lo and behold, I won 3 divisions – Nymph, Dry Fly, and Wet Fly! My winning entries were a Woven Polish Nymph, a Western Green Drake, and a Fontinalis Fin.