Fly-tying contest coming to the area

Back in October, I was a guest on the Internet podcast “Bugs and Beards,” hosted by local anglers Shawn Holsinger and Ray Smith.

This podcast features discussions about fly-fishing and fly tying, and we recorded about an hour of candid conversation about my more than 50 years in fly-fishing. A few of the topics we touched on included the story of my signature fly pattern the Walt’s Worm, some of the notable fly anglers I’ve known, and how the industry has changed over the years.

After we concluded taping the show, Shawn and I continued discussing fly-tying competitions. Back in the 1990s, I competed in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey and was honored to have posted multiple wins in both of those events. Tying in the competitions was something that I always enjoyed and certainly helped me to become a better fly tier. I lamented the fact that Pennsylvania State Fly Tying Championship seemed to have faded away in recent years, and we both agreed that it would nice to see some type of competition again to give the current generation of talented fly tiers a venue to showcase their skills.

A couple of weeks later, I talked to my friend Mike McFarland about putting together such a competition. Mike builds custom fishing rods at his business, McFarland Rod Company, in Bellwood. Last spring, he presented the Central PA Fly Fishing Showin Bellwood. That initial event was well received, and this year’s show will be held on March 21 at the Myers Elementary School in Bellwood. This new venue will offer more space for an even bigger and better show.

Mike was enthusiastic of having a fly-tying competition being a part of the show and asked me to put together a format for the contest, which will be titled the “Keystone Classic Fly Tying Championship.” The competition is open to all fly tiers and will focus on fundamental fly-tying skills such as winding hackles, setting wings, material selection, and proper proportions. The contest will comprise two divisions: A Youth Division open to tiers ages 15 and younger; and an Open Division open to tiers of any age. There is no entry fee.

Because space is limited at the show venue, contestants are asked to submit by mail two sample flies for preliminary evaluation. The qualifying patterns are a Light Cahill dry fly and a Pheasant Tail Nymph, each in size 12. Neatness, correct proportions, and fundamental tying technique are the important factors. Flies must be received by Feb. 15, 2020. Please include your name, address, phone number, email address and age if entering the Junior Division with your submission. Please package flies securely to prevent damage in shipment,

The top contestants from the preliminary round will be notified and invited to tie in the Keystone Classic Fly Tying Championship at the Central PA Fly Fishing Show. Contestants will be required to tie a designated dry fly, nymph, and streamer pattern during a one-hour time limit. Flies will be judged for neatness, style, proper use of materials, and correct proportions. Contestants will receive a packet with the required fly patterns, complete contest rules, and a complimentary ticket to the show. Contestants will be responsible for supplying their own fly-tying tools and materials.

The Keystone Classic Fly Tying Championship is sponsored by HMH Fly-Tying Vises of Biddeford, Maine, and Holsinger’s Fly Shop of East Freedom. In addition to a Keystone Classic Champion plaque for the winners, both sponsors have offered great prizes including an HMH Vise valued at $325 to the winner of each division and Holsinger’s Fly Shop gift cards to second and third place finishers.

Sample flies with name, address, phone number, email address and age if entering the Junior Division should be mailed to:

McFarland Rod Company

Attn: Walt Young

1316 N. Tuckahoe St.

Bellwood, PA 16617

A Facebook for the Keystone Classic Fly Tying Championship page should be up this week. For more information contact Mike McFarland at mike@mcfarlandrods.com.

I know we have a lot of very talented fly tiers of all ages right here in central Pennsylvania, so I hope many of you will take part in the Keystone Classic Fly Tying Championship. And if you are thinking to yourself, “I’m probably not good enough to compete,” think again. That’s part of the reason for the preliminary judging. Why not submit the sample flies? If you are selected as a finalist, you are certainly good enough to compete.


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