The Largest Fly Fishing Show in Europe
The eighth edition of the “International Experience the World of Fly Fishing”
(EWF) was again held at the Monastery Fürstenfeld, in Fürstenfeldbruck near Munich, on the weekend of April 13th and 14th. For me, as a newly retired person, it was the first time I was able to participate in this unique German fly fishing show, and it was great honor and unforgettable experience. For several years I had heard amazing stories about this extremely large event, but the dates in relation to my previous army job prevent me from going there.
To describe the event in just one sentence I only can say: The organization of the EWF is superb, the hospitality awesome, the venue astounding, the atmosphere overwhelming and I am not making this up. It’s really how I felt as a participant and guest during and after the EWF. It’s hard to believe that such a huge event is managed by just two main teams; two families working together in a perfect harmony! Robert and Michaela Stroh and Armin and Nicole Pijawetz did an amazing job, but of course they were supported by a large number of volunteers. Without all the people working in the background, a show of this high standard never would be possible. From the moment that the EWF gates opened on Saturday morning until the closing hours on Sunday late afternoon, the show had officially 3,450 visitors, a new record for the EWF since their start 8 years ago.
Gerd-Peter Wieditz is one of the persons behind the selection of a great variation of fly tiers at the EWF and I can proudly announce that he did a marvellous job. Regarding our fly fishing and fly tying attitudes, we have a lot in common. Like a real gentleman, he chose not only well-known fly tiers but also gave young, skilful and even unknown fly tiers a wonderful chance to present their creations and talent. I loved his idea to have large variation in the fly tiers presentations and their ages as well. The youngest fly tier was just 17 years old. At the beginning of this year Gerd-Peter asked me if I would like to join the EWF and I jumped at the chance.
With Michaela I arranged to come over for a few extra days, not for fishing, but to do a special workshop the day before the event. The idea was to raise some extra money for the kids fly tying corner and it worked. I love doing kids classes, but sadly my own program was too hectic to spend time with the kids this first year. I hope in one of the future EWF’s to be able to spend a few hours with kids.
I arrived at Thursday 11 April, in very nice weather. After I unpacked at my hotel, I had a nice long run around the monastery, knowing that I would not be able to exercise in the next few days. Since my retirement I find it extremely important to keep myself fit by jogging, especially because I do a lot of computer work and fly tying now. After my run I popped in at the main hall of the show and introduce myself to the organizers. Even though very busy, Michaela took time for me to show me the location and tell me something about the area and monastery. The main hall of the show, for example, is the original stables of the monastery. My seat as fly tier was located on the first floor and I felt myself locked between ancient origins and the reality of the present day. What an unbelievable ambience for a fly fishing show! I think there is only one show in Europe that has similar spectacular surroundings and that was the Chatsworth angling fair in the UK. The famous Dutch Fly Fair, many years held at the banks of the river IJssel in Hattem, was something different as well because of its unbeatable atmosphere. Sadly, the Chatsworth show doesn’t exist anymore and that makes the EWF quite interesting for a lot of fly fishermen, fly tiers and tackle dealers. Luckily, after a little break, the Dutch Fly Fair is now held at a new location and tried to build on their special atmosphere from past shows.
Many people think that the EWF is mainly a casting event but I tell you it isn’t. Some people told me that there was only a little fly tying information in the brochure but I think those guys didn’t check out all the extra information about the fly tiers and fly tying on the EWF website and app. There is already a lot written about the casting activities during and after the EWF so I will concentrate a bit more on fly tying and other activities during the show. Beside a large number of excellent fly tiers from Germany like Gerhard Laible, Jörg Schuft, Hans Jürgen Baum, Sven Ostermann, Peter Joest, Hans Eiber, Holger Herold, Werner Steinsdorfer, Erwin Tibad, Siegfried Urchs and Carsten Scharf. Several more German tiers showing their skills in the booths of stand holders as well.
Fly tiers also came over from many other countries. like for example: Mark Petitjean (Switzerland), Henrik Juhl Peterson (Denmark), Roman Moser (Austria), Edy Zauner and Bruno Pimpanini (France), Luis Meana Baeza (Spain), Joel Björn and Leif Ehnström (Sweden), Theo Atanassov (Bulgaria), Gary Borger and Ed Berg (USA), Ben Weytjens (Belgium), Dusan Dolinar (Slovenia), Igor Stanvec (Macedonia), and Dean Armstrong (Ireland). The fly tiers were busy from early morning till late afternoon, and while showing their secrets and techniques they were at times completely surrounded by crowds of onlookers.
Very interesting and useful were the excellent programs for children in fly tying and fly casting. Two days of lectures with a lot very interesting subjects were organized to offer a wide variety of subjects to the visitors. In between the different buildings there was a great beer garden including stands where traditional German food was on sale. There also were some casting ponds, a few open casting areas, and even some places for relaxation.
Special guest at the show were Gary Borger and Ed Berg, both friends of mine from the USA. Other famous and special guest included William van der Vorst, Roman Moser, Hans Aigner, Bernd Wiesbauer, Scott MacKenzie, Christopher Rownes, Erno Paskay, Ian Gordon, Gary Scott, Charles Jardine, Juergen Friesenhahn, Rudy van Duijnhoven, Kate Blubaugh, Michael Mauri, and many more.
The fly tying workshop that I held the day before the EWF started was, together with the one I did in Malaysia, my best ever. This actually happened because I had the workshop room all to myself and there was nobody pushing me out, so I could continue as long I wished and as long the participants wanted. The idea to do the workshops on Friday before the show also allowed me to see some activities during the show. I still have contact with several of the participants of my workshop which shows me well how powerful our interaction was
On Sunday I did a lecture together with Kate Blubaugh about salmon fishing in Newfoundland for ladies. It was new for me to do a lecture together with another person and it turned out very well.
A few highlights for me were all the new friends that I was able make, the old ones that I meet again from way back and a few new projects I am hoping to realize. However, the main highlight by far was a young kid who specially came over to see me. This 11 year old boy, guided by his none-fishing dad, covered a long distance just to show me his full box of Klinkhåmer flies. He was hoping to get one original fly from me and of course getting his picture with me. I realized his dream and things like that really make my day. These are moments in which you forget the hard things of life and replace them with happy moment!