For 26 years Eastern Idaho has put on a fly tying and fly fishing expo. This year it’s being held at the Shilo Inn in Idaho Falls March 29 through the 30.
“It’s definitely a family affair,” said Arn Berglund, the chairman of the East Idaho Fly Tying, Fly Fishing Expo.
Each day is full of raffles, fly tying demonstrations, fly fishing classes, lots of teaching, vendors, non-profits and much more.
The Expo will start at 8 a.m. Friday and Saturday. It will conclude Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. with a banquet to follow. At the banquet there will be live and silent auctions. They will auction off fine art and a drift boat, just to name a couple items.
Friday night will feature a fly fishing film festival. People will be shown fly fishing throughout the world.
This Expo isn’t just for those who already have a passion for fly fishing.
“We gear it all the way from beginners to extremely experienced fly fisherman,” Berglund said.
There are beginning classes you can sign up for, some cost money, as well as women only classes on fishing, casting and fly tying.
“It’s a very successful program we usually have like 30 women who sign up for it every year,” Berglund exclaimed.
There is a whole section for youth who tag along as well. They will have their own raffles, learn how to tie their first fly, and have presentations from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and maybe even the U.S. Forest Service.
This year Charlie Craven will be coming. He is a renowned fly tier. He contributes to Fly Fisherman Magazine every month. He will be teaching classes, tying on the main floor, and doing fly tying demonstrations in the auditorium.
“A lot of the people who tie flies don’t necessarily tie them for fishing. They tie them as art work,” Berglund explained. “There are a couple of people who make some of the most beautiful flies you’ve ever seen. You wouldn’t want to put them on a line and fish with them.”
Berglund talked about one guy from California whose flies are breathtaking.
“You would swear that the bugs he ties are going to walk off the table,” Berglund said.
Berglund himself has worked at this Expo for 19 years. He’s been fishing since he could crawl and learned to fly fish at 14 years old.
Speaking of the Expo, Berglund said, “It’s one of the best things I’ve ever been involved with.”
Admission is free. You can buy raffle tickets to help support the Snake River Cutthroats, the club that puts on the Expo. Only a small portion of the money goes to the club. The rest they donate to cold water conservation.
Berglund estimates they’ve donated around $340,000 during the 26 years they’ve held the expo. That money has gone to conservation efforts and education programs primarily for kids.
“It does open an avenue in this world of extremely technical, electrical, automated life, fly fishing is one of those things where it’s pretty primitive,” Berglund said. “I mean you’re out there with basically feathers on a hook trying to trick a fish into biting…they’re in a situation where they can learn and they can feel a part of the entire world.”
Visit the Snake River Cutthroats for additional information. You can buy tickets for the special aspects of the Expo at Jimmy’s All Season Anglers in Idaho Falls or at the door of the event.