Fly-tying competition in Bend

Fly-tyers have time limit, mystery component

By Shelby R. King / The Bulletin

Five people turned up at a Sunday competition at Confluence Fly Shop at the Old Mill to determine who could tie the best fly. Two of the competitors — Ed Sylvester and John Kromm — will move on to the semifinals Feb. 1.

The competition, called Master-Fly, required fly-tyers to show up with their own tools. They were then given a 20-minute time limit and a brown bag containing an assortment of materials and hooks, and tasked with creating a fishable fly.

Sounds simple, but there’s a twist. Within five minutes of starting, entrants were also given a black bag containing a mystery ingredient that they had to incorporate into their flies.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but it sounded like a lot of fun,” Kromm said.

The mystery ingredient on Sunday was a piece of foam shaped like a foot. Competitors were allowed to use it however they wanted to, said event organizer Troy Jordan. They were allowed to cut it or otherwise alter it but had to use it in their fly.

“It was kind of like those cooking shows where they give the people a secret ingredient,” Kromm said. “I tied up a little caddis fly imitation.”

Kromm, 31, said he’s been tying his own flies for about 12 years. This is the first competition he’s entered, and he said he enjoyed himself.

“It’s really about the fun and the camaraderie,” Jordan said. “Most of the people who compete see each other out on the river, and this is a way to keep us all civil.”

Sunday’s event was just one of four happening this weekend and next weekend. On Saturday, about five competitors showed up at Fin and Fire in Redmond, Jordan said.

Next Saturday, the competition will be held at Fly Fisher’s Place in Sisters. The final round will be held Jan. 26 at Fly and Field Outfitters in Bend.

Two winners are chosen by judges at each event, meaning eight finalists will compete at the Feb. 1 finals at Fin and Fire, Jordan said.

“It’s the slow season right now, so we’re trying to keep people involved,” Jordan said. “They were all given regular stuff, like strips of fur and guinea feathers, but they didn’t know what was in that black bag and they had to use it anyway.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0376, sking@bendbulletin.com