Friday morning we had to do some work in the office before heading to the show to set up our display. We were running late and to make matters worse we missed our exit on the Mass Turnpike because we were too busy talking about the show. We finally made it to the show and set up our display right before the show’s opening announcement on the p.a. system.
The show organizers gave us an awesome corner spot on the other side of the casting area where the traffic was great. Our show neighbor was custom rod builder J. H. Becker Rod Works from Vermont. Jim Becker builds beautiful custom bamboo rods that really have to be seen to be appreciated. The craftsmanship is incredible. Jim and his brother are really nice guys and we shared a lot of laughs during the show.
We weren’t sure what to expect from our first show. Friday morning started off slow but our fellow vendors warned us that Saturday would be crazy busy. When the venue started to fill up we started to talk to fellow anglers and give demonstrations on tenkara. In the beginning, people would ask a quick question and then move on but after a few demos people started to take notice. I love the reactions from people who have never seen tenkara before. First, they see a telescoping rod and they’re drawn in by the portability. Then they realize there is no reel and some wonder how it is even possible to fish without one.
After talking with several anglers and giving demos we started to get more comfortable and it showed. We made our first sale, a complete tenkara starter kit and realized the show was going to be a success. Sharing stories with fellow anglers that have the same passion for our sport was an awesome experience. After a while, we stopped worrying about sales and just had fun telling our tenkara story.
As the day went on people started coming to our booth and said they were so happy to see tenkara at the show. It made our day when several anglers said they were following us on social media and we’re psyched to see us. They have no idea how excited we were to hear that. It was really inspiring to hear that people were enjoying our efforts to teach tenkara and make fly fishing more accessible. By the end of Friday we were exhausted and ready to go home.
Saturday morning we arrived bright and early to set up all over again. Our fellow vendors were not joking, the crowds started early and were constant most of the day. At one point we had so many people at our booth that it was a little overwhelming. But the people were great. We heard so many cool stories. One guy told us about his adventures out west and how he was bringing in a medium sized trout only to be surprised when a much bigger brown decided to swallow the first one.
Sales were getting even better on Saturday but one of the highlights was when an 80-year-old gentleman came to visit us from Portland Maine. At first, I was a little nervous that he might not be a fan of tenkara. But after telling us his age, that he was a licensed guide and certified casting instructor he announced that he “loved tenkara”! This guy was awesome! He told us all kinds of stories about his experience with tenkara and how he was telling anyone who would listen about it. He also mentioned that he was the reason LL Bean had a tenkara outfit in their stores. It was also great to meet several people from Instagram and Facebook that we have been following. You get an impression from someone’s posts but it is so much nicer to meet in person. We had a great talk with Matthew from Casting Across and hope to see him on the water.
During the show, one of the celebrity fly tiers kept stopping by our booth to look at our kebari or Japanese flies. He didn’t say anything the first few times, probably because we were busy giving demos. Finally, we got a chance to talk to him. It was William Newcomb and he was interested in who tied our flies and what materials were used. Mr. Newcomb was quite the character. When we asked about the title “Celebrity Fly Tyer” he laughed and joked with us about being in a magazine. When I told him I was learning to tie flies and was looking for advice he brought me over to the vintage book booth and spent time flipping through all the books with me. He was looking for “Fly Tying” by Helen Shaw. It was awfully nice of him to take time out to help me.
Saturday was non-stop crowded but we were fueled by their energy and several cups of coffee. We also figured Sunday would be easier with the big football game. Sunday morning came fast. When the show opened the crowd was earlier today. Most people seemed to be focused on getting home in time for the AFC Championship game which was fine with us because we were tired. It also allowed us to talk to more guests and not worry about missing anyone. By afternoon the crowd was thinning and it was time to draw the winner of our raffle. The lucky winner was Jack Murphy from Plymouth, MA. Jack is the proud owner of a Red Brook Tenkara Starter kit which has everything he needs to get started in Tenkara.
As the show wound down people were scrambling to watch the football game and most gathered at 4 Rivers Fishing booth because they had a nice flat screen and access to the game. The fly fishing show was an awesome experience and we hope everyone else had as much fun as we did. Thanks to everyone who took the time out to visit our booth and say hello and share a story. We hope to see you all again next year and remember “no reel, no problems”.