Iron Fly brings fly-tying fun

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MANCHESTER — About two dozen fly-tyers came to Manchester from throughout the Northeast on Feb. 9 for an event known as Iron Fly to the American Museum of Fly Fishing.

Tyers came from as far away as Maine, New Jersey and Connecticut for the "Nor'Eastah" event, with others coming from throughout Vermont and northern New York.

If your image of a fly-tyer involves a studious man wearing a tweed coat and smoking a pipe, an Iron Fly event might just change your mind.

Throughout the event, tyers laughed and shouted encouragement while music played in the background. Tyers, men and women, came from diverse backgrounds ranging in age from the early 20s to middle age and beyond.

Organizer Kevin Ramirez said getting new people to try the hobby and making it inclusive and friendly are all part of the program's goals.

"It's all about community and inclusivity," Ramirez said. "It's all about having fun."

Several tyers in attendance were tying their first flies, while others tie professionally or are fly anglers with years of experience.

Most attendees were fly anglers, but some approach the process more like art or as a relaxing hobby with the added benefit of being able to sell or give their flies away as gifts.

One thing was clear throughout the evening: The fun level was cranked up.

Based on the television cooking show "Iron Chef," the fly tying event attracts tyers of all skill levels to tackle the challenge of tying a fly with a theme revealed to them right before the competition begins.

They also have various challenges thrown at them, sometimes in the middle of tying a fly.

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During each fly, Ramirez would throw curve balls at the tyers, having them swap seats and finish another tyers fly, or adding a strange material.

Or tying a fly while blind-folded. Yes, blind-folded.

For one fly, tyers could only use simple materials available in a small bag, making the competition completely about creativity and skill.

Yet another pattern required the tyers to incorporate material from a beer can, which turned out some interesting patterns.

In one free-for-all, tyers were able to use anything they could find on their table, leading one man to incorporate a Cheeto into a fly.

At the end of each round, a team of judges would choose the winners, laying the entries on a the desk that was once the tying desk of famed fly angler and tyer Lefty Kreh, who died last March.

Fishing industry businesses donated prizes for the event, which was free to attend. The American Museum of Fly Fishing hosted the event providing the space, pizza and beverages for the evening.

The museum even contributed two participants as Kelsey McBride, an administrative assistant who helps with events like this one, and Ava Freeman, collections manager at the museum, tied her first flies during the event.

"It has sparked my interest," Freeman said, adding that as an employee of the museum, it made sense to expand her knowledge and skill set.

To learn more about these events, search out "Pig Farm Ink" on Instagram, Facebook and on the Web.

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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