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 firstname.lastname@example.org), 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
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
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