White River

Baxter Bulletin fly tying contest winners announced

Posted by John Berry on April 19th, 2012
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Last Saturday, we announced the winners of the Baxter Bulletin Fly Tying Contest at the Trout Nature Center Hall of Fame Banquet at the Vada Sheid Community Center at Arkansas State University Mountain Home. For me it was a great sense of relief. It was a challenge to start something like this from scratch and to have it turn out as well as it did. The goal was to recognize some of the great unknown fly tyers out there and to develop some new talent. I think that we did that. We had dozens of entries from Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kansas and Texas. Exactly half of the winners were local and half were from out of state.

The winners were chosen by a blue ribbon panel of judges that consisted of Duane Hada, Davy Wotton, Tony Spezio, Tom Schmuecker and I. Prior to the judging the flies were attached to an index card and given a code to identify the tyer and the fly by the committee. The judges did not know who tied the fly. We were each given an index card with the eight categories listed and asked to choose a winner for each one. The fly with a majority of votes won the category. When we had a tie, we discussed the various potential winners and reached a consensus on which was the best fly. The whole process took about thirty minutes.

The big winner was local guide Chad Johnson who won two categories, Best in Show with his CJ’s Deceiver and Bass with his CJ’s frog. When we were judging his flies, there was a bit of discussion over which of his two entries would be the Best in Show and which would win the category, in which it was entered. The CJ’s deceiver finally won. His flies were gorgeous and stood out from the rest. He walked away with the Renzetti master vise (retail value $700.00) for best in Show.

The youth category was won by local tyer, Michael Schraeder (age eleven). Here again there was a bit of a quandary during the judging for the youth flies. There was a tie between two patterns. It was finally noted that they had been both submitted by Michael. We finally chose a fly, his orange creek crawler. He is definitely an up and coming fly tyer.

Local fly tyer Paul Port won the smallmouth category with his fighting Ultra Suede Craw (a crawfish pattern). This was possibly the most complex fly to tie that was submitted. The tying instructions were three pages long. This was the fly that was submitted that I most wanted to fish. This is a dead on crawfish imitation and it said take me to Crooked Creek.

Missouri Terry Tanner won the award for the best tied streamer for his red belly. I discussed the fly with him and he said that not only was it good looking but it was also a very productive pattern. I would like to try fishing one myself. Terry was unable to attend the banquet to claim his award.

Missouri fly tyer, Wayne Simpson, won with his yellow lady, a gorgeous yellow soft hackle fly. He tied at a fly fishing show on Saturday morning on and then traveled to Mountain Home that afternoon to receive his reward.

Texas fly tyer, Grant Adkins, won the nymph category with his G A damsel nymph. The tie was flawless and very realistic. This is not a pattern that we fish much around here but after seeing this fly it is one that I will try soon. Grant was not able to attend the award ceremony.

Steve Hegstrom, a talented fly tyer from Kansas won the dry fly category with his Hegstrom black caddis. This is a realistic dry that is a great pattern for our area. Steve was not able to attend the banquet.

We took all of the winning flies and used them to create a fly plate that we donated to the University to use for fund raising. The flies in the plate were arranged around a great looking print created by local artist Duane Hada. The fly plate was constructed by Mike Schraeder, owner of Oak Creek Outfitters. He took great care with the fly plate because his son, Michael, was one of the featured tyers. The finished product was gorgeous. It was auctioned off at the banquet and went for the astounding sum of $3,000.00. The committee, judges and tyers were all excited and proud of the results.

We are going to publish photos of all of the flies submitted in the near future in the Baxter Bulletin. All of the flies not used in fly plates will be donated to Project Wounded Warrior.

This was our first contest and I am sure that it will not be our last. I would like to thank my committee, Steve Dally, Mike Tipton, Henry Seay and Bill Thorne for their hard work, time and patience.

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