First and foremost, I appreciate every tying expo I have been to. I spent a few years driving my son, Tony, to them when he was the obligatory youth tier (albeit a darn good tier). So, I appreciate the mental~practical preparation involved.
As a beginning fly tier, I encourage you to attend these shows and most importantly do not be shy. I normally walk in and walk the circuit making a quick assessment of types of flies being tied. Now some would say not to eliminate any style of tie. Your choice. I look for the type of flies I will most often fish and want to learn more about. So, I look for trout flies and steelhead tube flies. You may look for bass flies and Atlantic Salmon artists, or Realistic Fly Designers (my designations).
As I said, do not be shy. You are there to learn. They are there to teach, clarify and inspire. If a chair is open sit down or get close. They aren’t selling anything so don’t walk on by. Take notes. Take their cards for later study or commercial contacts. If a tier is busy gabbing with friends or telling stories and not tying move on. Keep looking for the type of flies you are most interested in.
Ask ‘how to’ questions: ‘can you do that whip finisher move a bit slower?’ ‘what kind of feather is that?’ Some tiers are tying to knowledgeable tiers and may whiz by stages, so feel free to ask questions. It is a very open venue….or should be. The NW Fly Tying Expo in Albany, Oregon, I just went to, was a perfect match for most of my interests. Maybe a bass fly fisher would say different, I don’t know.
Another thing I noticed, and liked, the tiers run the gamut of human nature: the tiers were in various ways precise, scattered, anal, disorganized, gregarious, shy, gruff…the full range. They tied great flies and with all the varieties of styles, personalities and patterns. I think you will enjoy these shows and as I did take away tips and techniques I had forgotten or never seen before. Thanks to those that organize these shows and the tiers (and, vendors).
“You take 186 tyers, plus 160 volunteers,” Sherry Steele said. “And to have that many people step up to the plate, that’s really great. It’s huge.” Statesman Journal