Brewer Fly Tying Symposium was worth a visit

On Saturday, I was one of dozens of fly fishing enthusiasts who took a bit of time to stop by the Penobscot Fly Fishers’ annual Fly Tying Symposium and chat with a bunch of like-minded folks.

Sam Kenney ties a fly at the Penobscot Fly Fishers’ Fly Tying Symposium in Brewer on Saturday. (BDN photo by John Holyoke)

While I’ve not spent much time at the tying vise over the past several years (save a few marathon sessions spent whipping up dozens copper Johns that I oddly decided I couldn’t live without), but it’s always fun to visit with talented tiers and see what they’re working on.

Rob Dunnett at the vise. (BDN photo by John Holyoke)

The symposium was held at the Penobscot County Conservation Association clubhouse in Brewer (If you’re looking to join a great group of outdoors folk, you might want to consider a membership to the PCCA), and a couple dozen tiers entertained visitors for much of the day.

A highlight for me was catching up with Sam Kenney, a tier I first met back in 2010, when he was a 10-year-old with skills that belied his age. Now Kenney is a freshman at Maine Maritime Academy, but he took time to rejoin some of his mentors in Brewer and tied a few flies.

It was also great to chat with Dan Hodgins, a former regular at Penobscot Fly Fishers events who now works as an assistant principal in Houlton and gets down to the Bangor area much less often. Hodgins shared a table with longtime friend Don Corey of Annika Rod and Fly, with fellow PFF tier Rob Dunnett just a short cast away. Across the aisle, Kevin McKay worked with a young tier, showing her the ropes.

Hodgins admitted that it had been so long since he’d had a chance to tie flies, he wasn’t really sure what he’d brought for supplies; he’d just grabbed a couple of boxes full of mystery materials and figured that he’d be able to figure something out when he opened the boxes at the symposium.

“It’s kind of like one of those cooking shows where they don’t tell you what you’re going to have for ingredients and you have to invent something,” Hodgins said with a chuckle at the beginning of the day.

An hour later, Hodgins had settled on a “recipe,” and began to tie.

After spending some time at the show, I headed for home, but pulled up short in the parking lot when I realized how many of the fishing fanatics had vanity license plates that reflect their passion for fishing.

Among those plates were two that celebrate the annual arrival of the hexagenia limbata, a fly that trout love, and anglers love to imitate, and a plate that obviously belonged to Edward Muzeroll –“MUZZY 1” — one of the region’s foremost tiers of classic Atlantic salmon flies.


John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.