Standing Room Only at the Fly Fishing Show


This past weekend featured the annual appearance of Fly Fishing Show, held at the lavish Lynnwood Convention Center. Lynnwood, for those who are not in the know, is 16 miles north of Seattle via Interstate 5. There’s not much notable about Lynnwood other than it being a sprawling hub of retail activity with an emphasis on furniture stores.  Lynnwood does, however, have a convention center so it must be some sort of destination for those seeking enlightenment beyond merely shopping. The convention center is easily accessed from I-5 and shares a large parking spot with Chuck E. Cheese,  and the two times I’ve been to the convention center encompass the only two times I’ve been remotely close to a Chuck E. Cheese. I don’t know how, but I managed to dodge that bullet when my kids were young. Certainly cause for celebration, I digress: back to the Fly Fishing Show.

Parking is free, just non-existent. Thankfully it was a nice day for a walk so I didn’t mind having to park  a 1/4 mile away and walk uphill both ways, to the show.

Once you’ve been to the Fly Fishing Show, or any other similar trade show, each subsequent visit conjures up a strong sense of deja vu. Certainly it’s always good to see familiar faces and to meet some new ones, but unless there’s nothing else to do (including furniture shopping), I find that these shows offer very little of interest to me as a common attendant. So why, you might ask, do I attend?

Two years ago I was invited to attend the “Authors Booth” as hosted by The Angling Bookstore, where I sat for two one-hour sessions and signed copies of the Olive the Little Woolly Bugger books for the 3 customers that were interested in that sort of thing.

Last year I did not attend (I was furniture shopping).

This year I was invited, along with Evan and Derek (1st and 2nd chairs, respectfully, of The Open Fly Podcast), to sit on a panel of Fly Fishing Media professionals and discuss a variety of fly fishing media-related topics, moderated by Steve Duda (Editor of The Flyfish Journal). The panel included, in addition to Derek and I (Evan had to man the Allen Fly Fishing booth so he was unable to partake), Copi Vojta (esteemed photographer and Photo Editor of the Flyfish Journal) and Brian Bennet (the man, myth and legend behind Moldy Chum).

The questions were well-conceived and I believe gave those in attendance a unique glimpse into what goes on inside the various forms of media in the fly fishing industry: a veritable treasure trove of information for those seeking that sort of information to further bolster their brand.  We covered topics such as blogging, writing for print publication, podcasting and photography. Engaging stuff, seriously. But what was discussed is of less significance than those who were in attendance.

All two of them.

OK, while not altogether untrue, that may be a slight under-exaggeration: When the discussion began there were, in fact, two gentlemen seated in the conference room. The silence may have been deafening but panel was undaunted—we were, after all, professionals, so we forged ahead. As the discussion progressed 3 more people meandered into the room; 1 quickly left after realizing the neither April Vokey nor Hilary Hutchison were seated on the panel. As the discussion reached its crescendo the room began to gradually fill with others, and the panel members began to puff out our chests in a display of confidence and fly fishing media bravado. That was short lived as we realized these late stragglers were actually arriving early for the next presentation. We were kindly asked to wrap things up as the next presenter was on deck. Apparently the security detail for the next guest needed to do a sweep of the room.

As they say in the media, it was a wrap. In closing, I will say this: those in attendance of our discussion got their money’s worth. And they stayed awake for the entire hour.

I later learned that our discussion was forced to compete with a casting demonstration by Simon Gawesworth being held at the same time, upstairs, at the casting pond. Apparently there are more people who need help with their casting than they do with their media campaigns.

I know I do.





  1. Howard Levett

    Bring your panel to Colorado next year Kirk. I’ll drag a roomful of people there to watch/listen to you.

    • Kirk Werner

      Howard, while I appreciate your vote of confidence, I doubt we’ll be hitting the road any time soon. With a track record like ours, nobody is going to pay our travel expenses to make an appearance in exotic locales such as Colorado.

  2. David

    Fly Shows get to be like a musty old wool sweater, you just can’t let them go. I’ve been setting up a booth for the last 10 years or so at shows all over the eastside of the US. After awhile you become a fixture, that folks feel comfortable with. After all that time I’ve realized how to really benefit from the shows. I make a list of folks I’d like to have dinner with and if they’re going to the next show I call or email to make arrangements to meet up on “setup night”

    I’ve met some great folks this way. Thanks! Keep the posts coming – folks are reading!

    • Kirk Werner

      You are right, David, that the shows are about the people—not so much the contents of the booths. I’ll continue to go until there are no longer and people that want to see me. Thanks for reading and taking time to leave the comment.

  3. deanwo

    The irony of this, Kirk, is the stuff I’m sure you, Brian, Derek and Copi talked about is what The Fly Fishing Show needs to embrace to improve their shows.

    Having been a trade show exhibitor in other industries for about 20 years, I know exactly what David is talking about. I’ve been to some good and mostly bad events over this time. I’ve attended about 6 Fly Fishing Shows in Marlboro, MA and other than meeting with like minded folks, The Fly Fishing Show needs an enema.

    If I was at the Lynnwood show, I would have been the 3rd person in the room. Thank you for your courage.

    • Kirk Werner

      I can only imagine how hard it must be to annually put on a show like this, and tour the states with it, without it getting stale. Not sure what can be done just shy of the show proprietors consulting with the likes of you and me. It’s good to know that you’d have been a seat filler in Lynnwood. I can tell you one thing for certain: it took no courage at all, and it was a much nicer day in Lynnwood than it was in MA. Thanks for your comment!

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