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Fit To Be Tied

East Idaho Fly Tying and Fly Fishing Expo returns

Published in the March 2023 Issue Published online: Mar 10, 2023 East Idaho Outdoors
Viewed 576 time(s)

Idaho has thousands of river miles envied throughout the thirsty West. Within those miles are hundreds of fish sought by anglers worldwide. What to catch those fish with is tied by dozens of talented anglers gathering at the epicenter of trout country, the East Idaho Fly Tying and Fly Fishing Expo held in Idaho Falls March 24-25.

“We like to see a lot of people come through the door,” says Dave Pace, Snake River Cutthroats senior advisor “We have 20 percent more people in the area so I don’t think we will have any trouble with that.”

The expo is one of the oldest in the region and it’s hosted by volunteers of the oldest Trout Unlimited chapter in Idaho, Snake River Cutthroats. This is the organization’s 27th show after three years off due to the pandemic and the event’s return comes with significant changes, including location.

“Going to Mountain America Center is really plugging us into a lot of opportunities we didn’t expect,” Pace says. “They are plugged into stuff at such a higher level and that gives us access to a lot more tools. Now we have pros in the marketing world and an ad budget. We’re going from struggling to find vendors to having too many vendors.”

The core feature of the expo in a big way is the smallest of fly fishing accessories. Hand tied flies, a combination of small batched feather and fur artfully twirled around a hook, are made to mimic a bug buffet on the water. When tied right, the fish will bite and the fly tying artists at the expo are willing to share what they know. Here’s the best part, you can spend hours with them for free.

“You can force people to do stuff or you can encourage people to do stuff.” Pace says. “We used to charge admission, but now we let people in for free. Maybe they’ll donate that $20 in their wallet anyway.”

Money raised during the expo goes to protecting what those flies are for, fish. The club donates dollars and labor to improve waterways in eastern Idaho, especially rivers hosting native Yellowstone cutthroat trout including the Snake River and the Blackfoot River. Their efforts over three decades have resulted in more than $420,000 for conservation and education programs. Some of that education starts at the show with classes and demonstrations plus women and youth programs. There’s also an indoor casting pond, new this year, stretching 130 feet long for practicing casts of any skill level.

“We are inclusive and we like to see anybody and everybody have a chance,” Pace says. “We enjoy seeing a lot of people have fun. We also enjoy being able to fund projects that make a difference.”

Outdoor journalist Kris Millgate is based in Idaho where she runs trail and chases trout. Sometimes she even catches them when she doesn’t have a camera, or a kid, on her back. My Place Among Fish, the sequel to her first book, My Place Among Men, is available now. See more of her work at



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