Published Feb 25. 2019 - 5 years ago
Updated or edited Nov 8. 2021

Why I like tying at shows

In a few days I'm leaving for the Danish Fly Festival, and there I will be tying in the tyers row, an activity that I love

Many, many years ago, like in 1996, Dutch fly tyer Hans Weilenmann asked me if I wanted to tie at the Dutch Fly Fair, which was taking place in Zwolle in the Netherlands that year.
I was like "What? Me? Tying at a show? You know who I am, right? I'm just Martin, an average guy from Denmark, moderately decent at tying flies, and not a famous and stellar fly tyer like yourself..."
"Bah!", he said. "You will have something to show. Don't worry".

So I didn't worry and went.

Hans W
In Zwolle '96
Hans W and Martin J many years ago
Martin Joergensen
Listen now...
Listen now...
Rob Dings

So I didn't worry and went.
And lo and behold! I did have something to show.
I just tied my plain and ordinary sea trout flies, but two things dawned on me while sitting at the table, tying for people passing by, chatting and answering questions:

  1. The flies that I tied were actually quite interesting to a lot of people. Going to Denmark to fish the coast was a desire with many of those who came by, and not only could I show which flies to use and how to tie them, but compared to the average spectator I was a true expert on sea trout fishing, and I believe that I managed to help quite a few people with some tips and some patterns.
  2. I realized that I wasn't as mediocre at tying as I thought, which was a nice thing to discover. Not that I was (or am) stellar in any way, but I could tie an OK fly, get materials and thread to do what I wanted, be consistent and even explain to people what I did and why it made sense.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and truly thrived behind that table, met a ton of great people, expanded my network significantly and certainly got a taste for demoing fly tying.
And things developed as these things often do: once you get a connection, you get dragged along, and suddenly I was invited to tie other places: Sweden, Germany, the US. I had more invitations than I could accept, but I did manage to go to a few of these events, expand my network even further, get more contacts, more invitations, get to go again and so on.

My little corner
My little corner
Martin Joergensen

Now, before you start thinking: "Lucky bastard, he gets to go all over the place to have fun and tie flies. Free travel, fame, money, groupies..." let me correct you.
Nothing is free, and I don't "get to go". I pay to go. In most cases I pay for everything except the ticket price at the show. That's how it works. Some shows offer to accommodate you if you are a foreign tyer, meaning that you get a place to sleep. You also get coffee, water and probably a lunch during the show, but apart from that it's mostly expenses to be a "show tyer". Basically all work behind shows like these is done on a voluntary basis, and a lot of people spend a lot of time and energy making them happen.
I'm not complaining. It would be nice to be flown in and out and having things paid for, but I travel anyway, and traveling to flyshows is just another way of going on holiday.

In most cases I pay for everything except the ticket price at the show.

Behind the scenes
The people behind
Behind the scenes
Martin Joergensen

Same thing this coming weekend: I'll be at the tables in Kolding at the Danish Fly Festival, tying flies, talking, answering questions. I go there in my own car, pay gas and bridge tolls, pay for a place to sleep and pay my meals apart from a sandwich during the show.
It's something that I have no problems doing. The show is great, and I know I'll meet tonnes of people I know, and just as many that I haven't met before. I will make new friends, say hello to old ones, meet people who I have had contact with online. All while doing something I like: tying flies.
What's not to like?

A blur
The blur
Martin Joergensen

I also get to take my credit card for a walk up and down aisles of flyshops, which oddly enough all have something I desperately need and when not shopping or tying, I spend a lot of time during the weekend just hanging out with all my friends attending, tying and arranging the show.

Cake by the casting pools
Cake by the casting pools
Martin Joergensen


Hi Martin, I like the picture...

Hi Martin, I like the picture from Zwolle and the very cool one Rob Dings made! BTW biggest collection of Waldron Vises during recent Kolding fair. Rgds Ole


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