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Fly Tying Swaps
By Steven H. McGarthwaite

Fly Tying Swaps are great for beginning fly tiers. They are also wonderful for those who are more advanced. A Swapmeister starts the fly swap and sets the conditions and terms. On the Bulletin Board there is a section for "Fly Swaps." I hope this will be of some help to Swapmeisters who already have taken on the duties and to future Swapmeisters.

I started a fly swap for "Beginner's Only." This fly swap was created for those who have never been in a fly swap, or are just beginning fly tying. I limited the swap to eleven (11) members, to make the number of flies required for the swap manageable. This fly swap quickly filled, and others asked to join, I started a second group to accommodate these tiers.

The first group started with a December Fly, the other group started with a January Fly. All members of the first group were to tie "The Revenge," a nymph pattern by Chris Marshall. This fly pattern can be found in From Canada series, in the Features Section of FAOL.

Most Fly Swaps are a one-time-only affair, but there are a few that are a continuous fly swap ("Beginner's Only" was setup to be continuous). The Swaps can range from flies for a certain water, fish, or category (e.g. Dry, Wet, Nymph, Streamer, or Terrestrial). The swap can also be for a specific pattern type (e.g.. Mayfly, Woolly Buggers, or Midge). The variations are endless, some using specific materials or colors.

Each group was offered three choices in selecting the category for the January Fly. Here is how the voting is set up. 1st Choice is 5 points, 2nd Choice is 3 points, and 3rd Choice is worth 1 point. The five (5) categories are; Dry Fly, Wet Fly, Nymph, Streamer, and Terrestrial. The members then get to choose a fly pattern in that category. Group #1 is doing a Dry Fly (their choice through voting), of a standard Mayfly pattern (Swapmeisters choice). Will group #2 chose to do a Nymph Category (their choice through voting), pattern selection open (Swapmeisters choice)?

At the end of the voting, the total for the category chosen, becomes zero. All other categories retain their totals to be added on to the next month's ballot. I did this for a few of reasons:

    One fly category would not be constantly repeated.

    Each category would be tied on a regular basis.

    The most popular categories would be tied more often.

Balloting for February's Fly started on January 1st and closes January 8th. This allows the members of the each group to choose a pattern and acquire needed materials. All flies are to be mailed to the Swapmeister by the end of the month (February's Fly should be mailed by February 28th).

There is a lot of work involved with being a Swapmeister:

    Keeping track of the balloting.

    Keeping track of which flies have been received.

    Compiling the patterns tied and the recipes, for mailing for that months fly.

    Making sure that "Toe Tags" are on all flies to be shipped out.

    Paying for any short postage.

    Answering all the email questions the members have.

    Updating the group members of the status of the fly swap.

It helps if you create a separate category in your Address Book for the members, which also includes mailing addresses and telephone numbers.

I also have two members of the "Beginners Only" who live in Canada. Because of this fact there are additional requirements for mailing:

    Custom Declarations on all shipments. The form should state the quantity (10), the item (fishing flies) and the value (No Value), and statement: this shipment is for a Fly Swap Trade!)

    Postage has to be paid in postage of country of origin. This means the Swapmeister has to pay postage at their end and the Member pays for postage back. Normally the Member has a return envelope with return postage attached in the form of stamps (meter postage is void after the date it is created, and is only good for mailing from the point of origin on the meter label). You will have to check with your local post office as to the rates for mailing thru the International Postal Union. International Postal Union is a membership of every nations Postal System for International Mailings.

Being a Swapmeister has been fun and is well worth the time and effort to keep things running smoothly. Just by seeing the flies as they arrive in the mailbox brightens my day.

Without further ado it is my great pleasure to show here, a photo of "The Revenge" as tied by Chris Marshall, followed by photos of the same pattern tied by the eleven members of "Beginners Only" group #1. Remember, some members have been tying flies for a few years and are new to fly swaps, while others are new to both fly tying and fly swaps.

All photos were taken in my new photo studio setup after reading Al Campbell's series, which ran in his Field Editors column on FAOL. I have a blue green matting board that I bought at a art store ($4), and for lighting I use two shop clamp type utility lights ($12) with white shields, that have the new GE "Reveal" Incandescent Light Bulbs ($3), 100 watts each. They are said to remove the yellow from the incandescent lighting. Flies are held by Hook Clips that I wrote about in "Tying Tips" and the box to mount the flies for the photos was courtesy of Mark Steffen who mailed me his flies inside the box for the next swap. ~ Parnelli

Please check out the Fly Tying Section, on the Bulletin Board, here at FAOL too.

If you have any questions, tips, or techniques; send them to

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