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Swaps and Meistering


Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I have had a few e-mails asking me about how I handle swaps and what I expect out of the swappers who I have in the swaps. I thought I would put down my thoughts on this and let folks respond to that.

As the swap meister I feel that communications are the best and most important thing that I can do. I have the swappers email me directly so I can build a group in my address book. With this I can send e-mails to those in the swap. When they email me that they want to be in the swap I put them in the email group and then I have a word processing document made up for the swap or swaps. I also email the individual back and tell them that they are in the swap or swaps.

I try to give a fair amount of time to sign up for the swap and then a fair amount of time to tie the flies. When the deadline passes for the sign-up I email everyone to give them the directions for the swap, number of flies and the due date. I want the flies toe tagged with name and email address( ie Rick Zieger ziegeria@grm.net), a return label and return postage. The return label makes it easier for the swapmeister, and eliminates any mistakes in return addresses. I always send one with any swap I am in, no matter the rules. I also put my snail mail address in for them to send.

I then send a list of those that are in the swap. For my annual 4 swap madness I will send out the list of the folks in each swap individually. For this year it appears there will be three panfish, one muddler, two ant and two popper groups of 10 swappers. Each swap list will go out in an individual e-mail.

After that I send a message to the group each time that I get flies in. That way the person sending the flies knows that I have them and the others are stimulated to get the flies tied. I also encourage and harangue, the folks to be tying. If the flies are in before the deadline then they go out sooner.

When the flies are all in, I then divide them up. I do each swap individually so as to not get them mixed up. I then inform the group when the flies are going out and ask them to let me know when they come in. I contact the group fairly often as the flies come in and things move along, but I think that this is an important function for the swapmeister.

As a swapper I think it is important that I get the flies tied and to the swapmeister in a timely fashion. My personal thing, emphasis mine only, is to not join a swap unless I can get the flies tied in two weeks. I want to make sure that I can get the flies in.

I send the flies to the swapmeister with a return label, and return postage. I do toe tag each of my flies, I do a sheet on the word processor and can just cut each tag off as I need it. I send the flies in the cardboard boxes that I get eye glasses from the labs in. They are fairly durable and the flies can be sent back to me in them. There is also plenty of room for the flies to fit into. Not everyone ties small flies.

I tend to tie a few extra flies or send other patterns to the swapmeister for the efforts they are putting forth in running the swap. GET THIS. I DO NOT EXPECT ANY EXTRA FLIES TO BE SENT TO ME. This is not an appeal for that to happen. I appreciate it if folks do include other flies, but I don't expect it or demand it. That is something that each swapper must decide on their own.

Now for a few things that bug me about swaps. Personally it drives me crazy that folks drop out of the swap at the last minute. If you tied flies at the beginning, you would have them done. Waiting until the last minute is not fair to the swapmeister or the other folks in the swap. If you must drop out doing it early lets someone else into the swap. I know this sounds harsh, but you are getting my opinion. I know things can happen in life, but that is why I tie right away.

Another thing is folks who don't get the flies into the mail on time. If you have them tied then get them into the mail. It just doesn't take that long to do. If they are mailed then you don't have to worry about it. Don't put them in the mail the day they are due.

Also, toe tag the flies. It doesn't take long and it makes it easier for the other folks to identify the flies. If they want the pattern then they can contact you for it. One year I tried to collect the patterns and e-mail them to everyone. Honestly that is just too much work and hassle to do. With limits on file sizes that can be sent there were all sorts of problems.

Don't let this stop you from joining any swaps. Swaps are great ways to find new flies and new materials. See what other folks are doing with flies. Most of my favorites came in swaps. Don't worry that your flies are not good enough. Put forth your best effort that is all anyone can ask for. We all were beginners at some time. If you want ask folks to do a critique of your flies, for learning purposes, do so. You would not believe the number of flies I have sent out for this purpose.

This is my take on swapping and swapmeistering. Take it for what you think it is worth. You may agree or disagree and that is fine. There is room in the sport for disagreement.

Keep tying and hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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