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How can I possibly put into words last weekend at the BFFI?

Well, I’m going to try my very best, so here we go… It was incredible! There, blog done, time for a well deserved pint. No? Fair enough.

Collective is not really a word that’s used much these days, especially in terms of the fly fishing (or any) industry. In a world that’s increasingly driven by products, profits and competition from seemingly every quarter, what happens when you completely step out of that mind set? The answer…

Alternative Tackle stand BFFI 2023
Mark Leggett. Image © Oscar Boatfield

Alternative Tackle. A collective of the finest rod and reel makers on the planet (now joined by one fly tyer) that work together, support and encourage each other without any hint of competition except during the race to get the first round in

The AT stand at the BFFI looked magnificent! White backdrop with distinct logo, tables and rod racks showing artisan treasures from all over the world and a lot of those makers on hand to not only talk about their work but also (and just as eagerly) extol the virtues of the others. Sound familiar?… Only, perhaps, amongst friends. It’s a very special community and collective indeed.

All this was reflected back by everybody who visited the stand. Whether sought out especially or found by chance it was a joy to see people so happy (especially after the last few years). Personally, I was amazed at the response to my work. It was wonderful to hear the phrase “I follow you on social media and wanted to see what these flies actually looked like”. It was incredible to have respected fly tyers like Gayle Marsh, Neil Darling and Phil Middleton look at my work. Most nerve wracking moment… after dinner with Barry Ord Clarke on Saturday night he stopped by on Sunday. I won’t lie, I held my breath while he opened drawers (it was like having the headmaster check your homework)… thankfully they passed muster and I could breathe again.

So, if you see us in the future, stop by, say hello and talk to us about fly fishing, I guarantee that nobody will try and sell you anything. You may test a rod, hold and wind a reel, look and chat about flies and fishing. In the end you may well buy or order something and that thing will be the very best there is… but more importantly, just stopping by, you too have become part of the collective.

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