Little River Outfitters Logo 
106 Town Square Drive
P.O. Box 505
Townsend, Tennessee 37882
865-448-9459
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  • This photo was taken in 2005, the second Fly Tyers Weekend. The cars and trucks date this photo.
  • We rented this tent which was heated with propane and attached to the back door of our fly shop.
  • We usually had 8 fly tyers demonstrating at one time.
  • Andy and Lily Renzetti of Renzetti Tools in Titusville, Florida. They attended Fly Tyers Weekend one year.
  • Bob Clouser (left) and Byron Begley at Fly Tyers Weekend
  • Jack Gregory demonstrates his Smoky patterns. Not only is Jack a great fly tyer, that man can fly fish.
  • Sarah Weeks tied at every event. Her brother Brad also tied. Sarah is the Director of Development at Friends of the Smokies.
  • Walter Babb is an excellent fly tyer and bamboo rod maker. He teaches beginner fly fishing and all fly tying classes at Little River Outfitters.
  • Remember Dave Duffy? Dave was the leader of FFF in our region for several years. Dave lives in Montana. We all miss Dave. Maybe we can get him back.
  • Chris Helm from Toledo is watched by Dean Campbell. Chris is the expert at spinning deer hair.
  • Dean Campbell is an avid striper and redfish angler. He makes some unbelievable poppers.
  • Mike Adams is a professional guide who lives in Johnson City, Tennessee. His home waters are the South Holston and Caney Fork.
  • Jeffery Wilkins tying many years ago. He is a fantastic fly tyer and demonstrator. He works as a professional guide in North Carolina.
  • Roger Lowe is a guide in Western North Carolina, an author and one of the fastest fly tyers you have seen.
  • Ken Long demonstrating his skills. Ken is a Gander Mountain Store Manager in North Carolina.
  • Anthony Hipps is a strong leader in FFF and loves to teach people how to make poppers. He is one of the people making Fly Tyers Weekend 2014 happen again in Townsend, Tennessee.
  • Our local grocery store made this cake and gave it to us as a suprise gift in 2004. We live in a nice, small community full of friendly people.
  • Brad Weeks from Lookout Mountain, Tennessee has tied at several events at our store, including Fly Tyers Weekend.
  • Brian Courtney tying trout flies. He is fun to watch and fun to listen to.
  • Lots of action in the tent during one of the events.
  • Frank Bryant and Powell Partridge. Frank owns Chota Outdoor Gear. He designs all Chota products including waders and wading boots. Powell attends many fly tying events in the Southeast. He doesn't miss many. His is known for his sense of humor.



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In 2004 we decided to hold a Fall event called Fly Tyers Weekend.  We wanted to hold it at our fly shop, Little River Outfitters.  Where would you put it?  We rented a tent and since the event would be held in November, the tent had to be heated. 

We called everyone we know who tied flies and didn’t mind demonstrating their skills to strangers.  Many of the people we contacted agreed to do it. 

The event was so popular, we were all kind of amazed. Many of those who attended were not fly tyers. They were there to meet people who were good fly fishers so they could learn more about the sport.



Fly Tyers Weekend 2014 Logo

Admission is Free Both Days!


 

To advertise an event like this 10 years ago, we had to mail post cards.  We didn’t have a website back then, especially one like we have now.  That was costly, about $3,000 each year for advertising. 

We got the job done, about 200 people showed up for the first event and we had a great time and it grew over time.  Though it was expensive, we liked what we did and continued the event through 2006. Fly Tyers Weekend has always been a free event.

Over the years we had special guests attend Fly Tyer’s Weekend.  Lily and Andy Renzetti came one year.  They own the Renzetti vise and tying tool company in Titusville, Florida.  Bob Clouser was here for one of the events.  Chris Helm from Toledo, Ohio demonstrated his unbelievable hair spinning techniques.  More importantly, many local fly tyers, with huge talent, were there for you to meet and watch. This was the only fly tying event held in the Fall in our region at the time.

Those were the good old days.  Things changed.  Competitors opened all around our store.  The economy tanked.  Fly shops were closing.  Bad times fell on our fragile industry.  More people started buying on the internet.  We decided that we could no longer afford to spend $5,000 to hold Fly Tyers Weekend.  Our last year was 2006.


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Roger Lowe Tying Flies at Fly Tyers Weekend 2004

Roger Lowe from Waynesville, North Carolina demonstrates his fly tying skills 10 years ago at Fly Tyers Weekend in Townsend. Roger is a third generation Smoky Mountains fly fisherman and fly tyer. He will be demonstrating at Fly Tyers Weekend 2014.


The first Fly Tyers Weekend Tent

It all started here in 2004 behind Little River Outfitters. This tent and our classrooms in the shop housed the fly tyers and attendees. Our facility was packed for two days.
 

Things have changed.  First, I became friends with Wilson Riynolds who is an avid fly fisherman.  Then Wilson bought the lodge.  He asked me to come up with some events to be held at the lodge.  Fly Tyers Weekend is the first one I thought of.  By holding the event at the lodge, we save about $1,500 from what I can remember.  That was the cost to rent the heated tent with a floor, tables and chairs.  We are holding it at Wilson’s conference center at no cost.  This center is beautiful and perfect for a large event.  It is the only event center in Townsend, large enough for Fly Tyers Weekend.  Plenty of parking is available there, and at the Townsend School and City Hall, very close to the event center.

Second, our business is growing again.  I am excited about that.  I think we’ll be doing more free events in Townsend, teaming up with Tremont Lodge and Resort. 

Third, we have the internet now.  Our website is visited by 3,000 to 4,000 unique people each day.  Other websites devoted to fly fishing have appeared.  Other websites will be advertising Fly Tyers Weekend.  In 2004 through 2006, we spent several thousand dollars using direct mail advertising to market our event.  Now, the cost is zero.

Anthony Hipps, who has been one of the strong leaders in the Fly Fishing Federation is helping us line up fly tyers, some of them, people who I have never met.  He is continually giving me advice.  We have close to 40 fly tyers lined up so far and it is just now August.  I think the most we had back in the old days was 32 fly tyers.  Wilson’s friend, Scott Sanchez from Jackson, Wyoming is coming this year.  He is someone a lot of people want to meet.

Early November is an excellent time to be in Townsend.  Fishing can be very good.  The weather is normally mild though I admit, we have had frost and snow in early November.  Usually, that time of year, the days are warm enough to melt snow.  Travel is almost never a problem. Three things can adversely affect the Smokies fishing during the Fall, high water, cold water and too many leaves in the water. Should that happen, the tailwaters nearby would make a good backup plan.

I believe we will have a very successful Fly Tyers Weekend and this will become an annual event.  I hope you can be here and enjoy it.  You don’t have to be a fly tyer to benefit or enjoy Fly Tyers Weekend.  The demonstrators are excellent fly anglers from all over our region.  Click on the menu titled “The Fly Tyers”.  You will be talking to some awesome anglers all weekend.  So will I.  We will all learn from this experience and certainly have a great time.  We all hope you can be here.

Byron Begley



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Fly Tying Classes at Little River Outfitters