Fly-fishing stars to appear at Bellwood event

Well, the official first day of spring is now just a month away. Nature, of course, pays little attention to the calendar dates we humans adhere to.

How well I recall fishing in several inches of snow more than once last April. I also remember a few years when the weather during the first week of March was positively balmy. Regardless of what the forces of nature have in store this year, I sure every angler I know is more then ready to dust off the fishing tackle and get back on the water.

One good way for fly anglers and fly tiers to ward off the last of the winter blues will be to attend a daylong fly-fishing event next Saturday, February 23, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Bellwood Antis Middle School Gym at 400 Martin St. in Bellwood. According to event organizer Mike McFarland, “This is the perfect opportunity to not only learn a lot about the sport, but also to check out and purchase the best equipment and supplies in the industry. You’ll be able to test cast new rods, purchase flies, tying materials, rod building supplies, and other great equipment. The show will have everything from leaders and tippet to handmade drift boats and everything in between.”

One special part of the day will be free youth fly-tying classes for ages 8 to 17. All necessary tools and materials will be provided. Young folks who would like to participate are asked to preregister by emailing Mike@McFarlandRods.com.

For fly-fishing enthusiasts of all ages, the show will include an impressive list of expert anglers, casters and fly tiers including:

Craig Buckbee from Burlington Flats, N.Y., is an FFI Master Certified Casting Instructor and a licensed guide in New York and Pennsylvania who works as a casting instructor at Joan Wulff’s Fly Fishing School. He competes in ACA casting tournaments and has won medals in national tournaments competing against the best casters in the world. Buckbee will be giving two casting demonstrations. At 10 a.m., he will present “Tips to Improve your Fly Casting” that will demonstrate basic casting techniques as well as common problems of fly casting and how to solve them with information that will help both beginners and experienced casters. At 2 p.m., he will present “Secrets of the Double Haul” to demonstrate how this essential casting technique will not only add distance to your casting but also make you a better fly caster.

Tom Baltz is an Orvis-endorsed guide and award-winning fly tier from Mount Holly Springs, Pa. He honed his skills on the legendary trout waters of the Cumberland Valley and is a wealth of knowledge on fly fishing and fly tying. At 1 p.m., Baltz will present “Tying Perfect Parachute Flies” demonstrating the techniques that he has perfected for tying parachute-style dry flies during the past 50 years as well as general tips to improve your fly tying.

Mike McFarland of Bellwood, Pa., has owned and operated McFarland Rod Company since 1997 and expanding the company to include a full blank rolling facility. His fiberglass and graphite rods and blanks are sought after by anglers and rod makers around the world. In addition to rod making, McFarland is heavily involved in tournament casting through the American Casting Association and is a four-time winner of the Hardy Cup. He will be available for casting instruction throughout the day and will present “Rod Construction from Raw Materials,” a video and discussion about rod designs and actions and how they affect casting and fishing performance.

Ryan Welch of Hamburg, N.Y., can be best described as a fish bum who loves saltwater fly-fishing. He has fished around the world and in the past year alone has fished the Florida Everglades, Christmas Island, Mexico and the Bahamas. At 3p.m., Welch will present a slide show on his favorite destinations destinations and discuss the flies and equipment that are effective for everything from bonefish and snook to tarpon and giant trevally.

Nick Pionessa of Lancaster, N.Y., is full-time guide, commercial fly tier for over 20 years and spey-casting guru. He will be giving fly-tying demos throughout the day, and at 11:30 a.m., will present “Intro to Spey Casting” that will cover the basics casts and discuss equipment and lines for this often-misunderstood style of fishing. If you’ve ever wanted to learn to Spey cast, this is your chance.

I plan to be there most of the day doing fly-tying demonstrations and talking about fly-fishing or fishing in general, so stop by my table. As of press time, some of the other vendors scheduled to be there include: McFarland Rod Company, Bellwood; L.J. Downes Rod Company, Coburn; The Feathered Hook, Coburn; Little Juniata River Association, Tyrone; Pittsburgh Casting Club, Pittsburgh; Performance Flies, Spruce Creek; Down Home Boat Works, Indiana, Pa.; Edgewater Inn and Riverside Grill, Alexandria; Keystone Fly Guides, Lancaster; Leiderman Rods, Reading; Dave Allbaugh Wet Fly Guides, Johnstown; Cattaraugus Creek Outfitters, Williamsville, N.Y.; Josh Miller Fly Tying, Pittsburgh; George McCabe Classic Tackle, Mantua, Ohio; Eric Naguski-Riseforms Fly Fishing, Boiling Spring; Anglers Cane, Hunker; and Aquatic Imitations, Hollidaysburg.

Tickets can be purchased at the door. Admission is $5 and covers all presentations and classes throughout the day. Children under 8 are free of charge. For more information, visit the event website at centralpaflyfishingshow.com

On the air this week

This Wednesday at 11 a.m. I’ll be a guest on Doug Herendeen’s radio talk show on WRTA 1240 on the AM dial and 98.5 on the FM side. We plan to discuss the ongoing problem of CWD and its impact on our local deer herd, but any other outdoor topics will also be on the table as well, So tune in or call in then.