The first IFTD “Iron Fly” competition, hosted by Ray Schmidt, started with 10 talented tiers from around the US seated side-by-side at the Denver Convention Center last Wednesday. They were tasked with tying a fly of their choice — either a historical pattern or a new design — but with a mystery tying material announced moments before the competition. Three judges judge reviewed the 12 flies based on criteria such as overall neatness, proportions, use of materials, and use of the secret ingredient — on day one, Golden Pheasant Tippet. The tiers had 30 minutes to complete their flies.
Charlie Craven and Kevin Compton edged out the competition in what Schmidt referred to as a “very tight bunch of scores.” Craven tied a Featherwing Streamer and Compton went with a Hairwing Streamer.
The last minute of the Iron Fly competition, day One.
On the second day of the International Fly Tackle Dealer show, the finalists seemed a bit more “tightly wound” as the two o’clock Thursday start time approached. At Rene Harrop’s book signing, Kevin Compton was asked if he had any tricks up his sleeve. Compton replied, “Its tough to plan when you don’t know what the secret ingredient is going to be.” Compton later went on to say, “I really want to win this thing.”
The secret ingredient for the final round turned out to be Kid Goat Hair, far from an everyday fly tying material. Each tier was given an equal amount of time to figure out which pattern they would tie, and then 30 minutes to tie their fly. Compton used the entire time span, meticulously tying a single fly, whereas Craven tied three different patterns. One of Craven’s choices was the winning fly– an adaptation of the Turk’s Tarantula — earning him the title of 2010’s “Iron Tier.”
The “Iron Fly” was a big hit with show attendees and exhibitors. Said Ray Schmidt, “this was a very popular event and tiers and supporters alike are talking about next year in New Orleans and upping the stakes with some [prize money] being added to attract more tiers.”