Garden State Convention Center, N.J., January 22, 2010
With most of the streams and rivers blown out by days of heavy rain I decided to skip fishing over the weekend and attend the Somerset Fly Fishing Show in New Jersey.

After picking Jin up in Philadelphia we arrived at the convention center. It's always a good to see happy people streaming out the door laden with rod tubes, bags, caps, hackle and brochures. With visions of excellent swag dancing in the back of my mind we hurried through the front door and began taking in the displays.
Fly tyers lined the walls on both sides of the convention center and we stopped in on our good friend Tom Baltz, a renown fly tyer and creator of the I.C.S.I (I Can See It) midge and Baltz's ParaNymph. He had an interesting display set up at his table that showed several of the para-nymphs floating in a tank of water with a mirror positioned below so you could have a fish eye view of the fly. From below the flies looked very buggy and the hook point was not visible. I also pawed through some of the I.C.S.I. midges in size 20 and I know I'd probably go blind trying to ties something so small, not to mention trying to tie it onto 7x tippet.
We also spoke with fly tyer and author Jay "Fishy" Fullum who asked us to guess how many fly rodders actually spend time and effort tying their own flies. Both Jin and I guessed around 20 percent but this turned out to be way off the mark. Fullum said only "about 3 to 4 percent of fly fishermen tie their own flies. That's why you have so many companies selling flies."
Other tyers at the show were featuring fly patterns that were so life-like that a visitor to the booth actually mashed the fly with the palm of his hand and swept it off onto the floor thinking it was a mosquito. After that incident the fly was protected by a glass cup. Another had a whole series of spun deer hair flies and even a foot-long deer hair snake tied on guitar wire with a hook protruding every two inches.
We moved deeper into the convention center. In my opinion, compared to last year, there were fewer fly shops and equipment manufacturers but more outfitters and lodges. If you needed to book a bonefish trip to the Seychelles or a drift on the Madison there was a vendor that would get you to that location. The fly shops that were selling gear had most of the big name clothing and equipment names represented--Simms, Patagonia, C&F, Cloudveil, Columbia, Korkers, Orvis, Dan Bailey. There were some pretty good deals on specialty fly lines (Rio Nymph, Scientific Anglers Bonefish and Saltwater lines, Airflo Ridge lines, Striper lines or deep sink Type VII lines) and lower prices on 2009 lines.
Speaking of lines, Rio offered a new Skagit shooting head and a series of Scandinavian style heads for spey applications plus an improved Windcutter spey line. There was also a Trout LT line (which probably replaced their 2009 Selective Trout offering). All 2010 Rio lines were duo-toned, which means you have a color change on the line at the optimum load point. And it seems that Rio is taking over from Scientific Anglers as the official distributor of the C&F fly box line. Scientific Anglers also brought out several new lines featuring their Sharkskin application on their Saltwater, Magnum and Magnum Tropic lines.

I stopped at most of the rod and reel co
012210hacklempanies and put my grubby fingerprints on some of the newest and hottest items, which were mainly switch and spey rods and reels. Abel, Sage, Tibor, Lamson, Temple Fork Outfitters, Beulah, Scott, Redington and other independent companies were showing off the latest and greatest in long rods and the reels that go with them that are built to handle specific fishing situations--from beach casting to busting blues to swinging for 30 pound salmon on the Kenai.
After several passes up and down the aisles and spending a little coin here and there it was time for us to hit the road. I had to drop Jin off in Philadelphia before heading back to Virginia but not before he treated me to a great Korean dinner at MIGA Restaurant in downtown Philly.