A quick-take impression on The Fly Fishing Show in Denver


A black and white photo of people walking in a store.

It had been a bit more than a few years since I’d gone to The Fly Fishing Show. That was part show fatigue—after dozens of different shows in all shapes and sizes over the years, I had any show fatigue. It was also part Covid, part me moving three hours away from the nearest show venue, and probably more.

But I gotta tell ya… it felt pretty damn good to be back. It seemed like old times, almost like many others like me had climbed out of our cocoons. The best part was connecting with so many kindred spirit friends. We were a little older, and grayer, to be sure. But—at least for me—this show felt like the shows used to feel. And that was great.

The “older-grayer” thing is not, by any means, meant to reflect on the show as a whole. To be honest, sure, Friday was packed with retired types (mostly men) who have the free time, but in the days of virtual offices, who really works until 5 p.m. or later in the office on Fridays anymore? There was a tangible, perceptible shift on Saturday, where we saw a much younger demographic, more families, and so on. One had to be careful not to trip over a stroller as you walked the aisles. Sunday was lighter, but Sunday is always lighter, with church services, the NFL playoffs, and other factors weighing in. It was probably good for the show that the Broncos missed the playoffs again, but third-day Sundays are always a challenge. I hear that Marlborough, Mass., the week prior was much the same, great on Friday and Saturday, with bad weather taking a toll on Sunday attendance.

Having said all that—and I don’t know the final numbers—the overall vibe of the Denver show felt good (exhibitor space was sold out), better, younger, more diverse, and more positive than I expected. I informally polled 10 exhibitors, and they all thought it was the most productive weekend they’d experienced in years. Heartfelt kudos are thus owed to Ben Furimsky and The Fly Fishing Show, all those who exhibited, and all who attended as well.

I’ve said for many years that The Fly Fishing Show, in Denver, in January, is the best “state of the market” telltale of where things really stand, and an equally reliable harbinger of things to come in the season ahead… at least in the West.

Next week’s event in Edison, New Jersey, will surely set the tone for all things East.

But the report coming out of Denver is that things are looking… well, NORMAL. The vibe is back. The Covid thing threw this industry into weird directions, and some prospered, while others ultimately suffered.

I have no crystal ball, and thus no idea how things like weather will affect the season ahead. But I know the community… the “family” feel has returned to fly fishing, at least in my mind.

And at this point, that’s all I can ask for.


Leave A Reply