Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

AFFTA and the Fly Fishing Retailer Show

First, let me offer a quick explanation for my absence. After enjoying a week’s vacation in beautiful Rhode Island, I found myself hurrying back when my mother was stricken with pneumonia. She wound up spending a week in the intensive care unit at Newport Hospital.

I spent three weeks up there, but all’s well that ends well and mom is recovering nicely at my sister’s home in New Hampshire.

My next stop was Denver, Colo. Last month I was elected to a three-year term on the board of directors of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. My first board meeting was during the Fly Fishing Retailer show last week.

AFFTA’s mission is to “promote the sustained growth of the fly fishing industry.” To do that, the association focuses on attracting more people to fly-fishing, promoting business excellence and educating elected officials and government agencies on important policy topics such as the economic importance of conserving fly-fishing habitat or thorny tax and trade issues.

The Fly Fishing Retailer is the industry’s trade show. At this show, manufacturers show and promote their new products to dealers like shops, guides and outfitters and also members of the outdoor press. Only members of the fly-fishing industry can attend, it is not open to the public like a consumer show is.

AFFTA Board members, like me, get a guest pass to the show and I spent two days wandering around the floor, looking at new products and visiting with many of my friends in the business.

Over the next few weeks I will share some thoughts and observations about some of the more interesting things I saw at the show, like the latest in the rubber versus felt for the bottom of wading boots, flies without hooks and the latest in bobber technology. No kidding, bobber technology.

Of course I got a chance to try new fly rods from the likes of Sage, Scott, Loomis, St. Croix, Temple Fork Outfitters and Winston. Casting a variety of rods is one of the best parts of going to the show. It is also a great chance to give friends a hard time about casting techniques, which greatly adds to the entertainment value of the show.

There is a pretty robust party circuit each night after the show closes. The most entertaining one is the Annual Drake Flyfishing Video Awards. This was the fourth year for this event showing of ten five-minute film clips about fly-fishing. A panel reviews all clips and the top ones win prizes for being the best in their category. There are awards for best humor, best story, best fishing, and best overall.

You can see clips from the last three years at the Drake Web site. Check out “Running Down the Man” from the 2006 films, it is one of my favorites.

I have now returned to the Valley and am looking forward to some fall fishing and the hunting season. Hopefully you have already had a chance to get out enjoy some time afield.

If you want to have some fun, get some wing shooting practice and support a good cause, come out to Flying Rabbit Sporting Clays on Sept. 27 for their first Hunters for the Hungry benefit shoot. The donation is $50 for this 100-target event. Lunch, soda and water are included, you just need to bring shells and eye and ear protection and of course your shotgun. You can get more information by calling 540-574-2529 or go to their Web site.

Finally, it is not too soon to be marking your calendars for next year’s Virginia Fly Fishing Festival on the banks of the South River. The festival is scheduled for April 17 and 18. This is the ten-year anniversary of the event so it should be a good one.

You can read more of my columns at News Virginian.com.

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