Wasatch Expo 2017

~By: Lance Dean | April 26, 2017

Wasatch Fly Tying and Fishing Expo

On Saturday, April 7-8, 2017 I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Wasatch Fly Tying and Fishing Expo held in Sandy, UT. I took the chance to enjoy the many demonstration tyers, vendors and classes offered at this amazing expo.

The first time I visited the Wasatch Fly Tying and Fishing Expo was in 2014 where I met the likes of Charlie Craven of Charlie’s Fly Box, Curtis Fry and Clark Pierce of Fly Fish Food , Collin Carlson of Finpusher and many others. It was a very enjoyable experience. I have gone to the Wasatch Fly Tying Expo every year since then. 2017 was a bit different…Jack Dennis was in charge.

Yes, the Jack Dennis from the fly tying DVDs that just about every passionate fly tyer has watched and probably owns. Jack did an excellent job organizing the event this year. There were many new vendors in combination with the ones we see regularly. The Wasatch Fly Tying and Fishing Expo actually started on the 6th of April with on the water classes with many respected fly fisherman. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend any of these “on the water” classes. The Expo for me started at 8:00 am on the 7th of April with Phil Rowley’s “Stillwater Tactics 101”.

Mike Andreasen and Phil Rowley
Mike Andreasen and Phil Rowley - Stillwater Kings

I fish more lakes and reservoirs than rivers and streams so I wasn’t a newbie to Stillwater fishing by any means, but in my opinion one can always learn something from other fly fisherman and especially when the class/workshop is put on by a Stillwater master like Phil Rowley. The class was very informational and interesting. Phil discussed the many foods trout consume in lakes or reservoirs, the flies to imitate those foods, gear to target Stillwater trout and a few tactics to have the best chance to be successful while fishing Stillwater trout. I learned a bit in all of these aspects of Stillwater fishing and Phil did an excellent job putting on the class. Thank You, Phil Rowley!

Wes Ashcraft
Wes Ashcraft - Courtesy Wes Ashcraft
After Phil’s class I checked out many of the vendors and demonstration tyers showing their skills in the Expo. The Wasatch Fly Tying and Fishing Expo featured many demonstration tyers throughout the weekend. There were so many awesome tyers demonstrating their skills at the expo and watching them charged me up to go tie flies. After walking through and watching flies tied by their masters I stopped by a few vendors at the expo. There were more vendors and tyers at this years’ expo than I can remember from the years past which made it a better over-all experience for the inquiring, interested, and experienced fly fisherman/tyers to attend. Of the many different boats, rods, gear, fly boxes and tying materials, I bought a couple of things that stood out to me. First, Al Wood has a product called Atomic Glow that glows in the dark. It comes in either sheets or 1/8” strips. It’s pretty cool material that I am excited to incorporate into my flies. The second product I found that I think is cool is a product from Dr. Z’s Flyfishing. This product is a tube type tying system without all the tube tying setup. I am excited to try it out and let you know what I think. The Fly Fish Food crew was there madly tying flies between answering customer questions and taking orders. Tacky Fly Fishing was there selling the best fly boxes on the planet. When I asked about anything new coming, Spencer told me that they were working on a streamer box that they were hoping to share with the public soon. I asked if they had any of the Orvis collaboration boxes at the show which they did not. I didn’t think they would due to it being collaboration with Orvis I figured Orvis and the authorized dealers would be the only ones who could sell them. I asked Spencer if they had any intentions of making a double sided box and he just looked at me a told me it was in the works for some time in the future. So I bought a Day Pack and went on my merry way. My favorite local (well, what I consider local) fly shop was there as well. Fish Tech had a small booth that was manned by Byron Gunderson and Mickey Anderson. That was a pleasant surprise because I haven’t seen a Fish Tech booth at the expo since I started going in 2014. Byron, Mickey and crew are just awesome people and go out of their way to help not just fly fisherman, but fisherman in general.

Mike Evans at the 2017 Wasatch Fly Tying and Fishing Expo
Mike Evans Tying "Big and Nasties" - picture courtesy Mike Evans
After walking the vendor booths, I walked to the Fly Tying Theater at the expo. The Fly Tying Theater was a place where tyers were specifically invited to tie as part of a tying theater where people could come watch them tie for 45 mins; these sessions were recorded and then produced to DVDs available for pre-sale to people attending the expo. Mike Evans was the tyer scheduled to tie during the time I took my seat. Mike’s fly tying specialty is tying big fish flies. – Think Musky. Mike’s flies are big and nasty – in an awesome Musky catching way. I noticed he was nervous while he tied his fly and was only given 45 mins to tie a fly that he says typically take a couple hours which didn’t help. Talk about pressure! Mike tied an excellent fly and did an excellent job as he shared the techniques he used for his “Big n Nasties”.

Me tying flies  - Picture taken by Wes Ashcraft
Thursday morning I was scheduled to be in Phil Rowley’s Advanced Stillwater Tactics class, but was unable to attend due to the fact that it was my turn to tie flies. As I tied flies throughout the day, people walked by, watched and asked questions. You know tying flies on your own is one thing having to do it while people watched is another. It was a lot like tying on my YouTube channel. No matter how many videos I do or how many people I tie in front of, I am never comfortable doing it. I tied many flies including a blue Copper John and a couple of untested creations of my own – the Green Lantern and my own version of the Superman. (The day before was my Sons birthday and he loves Superheroes so I wanted to see what Superhero flies that I could come up with. Mike Andreason stopped by and watched me tie a Green Lantern and thought the cape I put on my Superman fly was pretty cool. We offered compliments to each other and talked fly fishing, tying flies and the pontoon boat that has his name on it. Mike is one of my favorite tyers and it was a pleasure having him stop by my table and talk flies. My day ended watching Mike Andreason tie flies.

Amongst the group that Mike drew around him as he shared his tying skills was Phil Rowley. As Mike tied flies, both Mike and Phil were bombarded with many questions about flies and techniques to tie and fish them. It was a very enlightening group conversation and one that I will remember. After purchasing Vol. 2 of Mike Andreason’s DVD series I left the expo for home, glad that I did not miss it.

I really enjoyed this expo, made some new friends and was very happy I was able to attend. I hope that Jack Dennis and his Wasatch Expo friends continue to make it a bigger, better show. Thank you Jack Dennis and your Wasatch Expo friends for the time you put into making this such a great show. I also want to give a big thank you to David Gibson for making the Expo a great experience for the tyers of the expo and for being the voice of the demonstration fly tyers.

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Note: The 2017 Wasatch Fly Tying and Fishing Expo Logo used at the top of the page was taken from the Wasatch Fly Tying and Fishing Expo site with permission from the host Jack Dennis.

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