Fly Life Magazine

Wrap Up: Low Country Fly Fishing Expo another home run with anglers

Capt. Tuck Scott opens the Expos with how to arrive ready to fish on a flats boat, and the things that trigger a failed mission. Fly Life image.

Capt. Tuck Scott opens the April 9, 2016 Expo with teaching how to arrive at the dock ready to fish and how to avoid things that trigger a failed mission. Fly Life image.

It would be hard to ignore this fly fishing expo

Tony Royal’s Low Country Fly Fishing Expo, sponsored by his Bay Street Outfitters (BSO), (Beaufort, SC) was held, again, at charmer of a venue (Oldfield Club) on a spit-lagoon of the historic Okatie River. The ambiance was in play.

There was no time for mulling or wondering what to do

The expo’s trademark of engaging participants via hands-on casting and all-in coverage on How-to just about everything else required to fish the low country offerings was an enjoyable full court press all day long.


Simms’ rep Jimmy Dobes (front R), customers Jody Wright, Sue Robacker (blue jacket) and (front L) Lisa Bencze.

The enthusiasm of the presenters infected the attending flock

The format: Everyone was scheduled to a station with a time lapse of an hour and a quick chat break in between. The covered subjects were all useable and many were interactive … all take home stuff.

In a nutshell: multi-level casting (all day Capt. Dave Murray along with several area guides); a really useful live demo on fishing from a flats boat (Capt. Tuck Scott); how-to rig which covered everything from backing to tippets (Tony Royal), offshore fly fishing with Capt. Jason DeBose, casting accuracy with Capt. David Cargill, distance casting with Bill Coleman and why it is useful, and Capt. Owen Plair revisited actual fishing conditions with a telltale video of the experience. My favorite was John Holbrook’s hands on (thumbs on for one guy) fly tying and getting the inside poop on Low Country redfish food.

Lets see, are we looking at 24-fingers and 6-thumbs? Or do the thumbs have it? A tying session at one of John Holbrook's three sessions. His patience was saintly and the outcome was always fishable Bay Street Bunny flies. Fly Life image.

Let’s see, are we looking at 24-fingers and 6-thumbs? Or do the thumbs have it? A tying session at one of John Holbrook’s three sessions. His patience was saintly and the outcome was always a fishable Bay Street Bunny fly. Burt Prater (front), John Matthews (center) and Shane Hines (faster than a speeding bullet). Fly Life image.

Nobody could possibly have cast a fly for the entire day, but if hardy enough they could have as it was “on” all day. Casting instruction was provided by handpicked professional guides with more than just local creds. Along with teaching the elements of casting, guides approached the ‘teach’ as if actually fishing for a redfish: how to lead a cruiser … where to drop the fly on a tailer and so on. With decades under my belt, I still learned something new.

Beginners, of which there were more than a handful got coached into satisfying results by Capt. Dave Murray. Murray is known throughout the southeast as their own Lefty Kreh. His methodology, technical understanding of casting in all its forms made knowledge transfer to his students fall into the ranks of “quick study” and a reminder of Lefty as well.

NOTE: More on Dave in a coming story about the revolution in rod/line manipulation and how that can greatly improve the casting learning curve.

Meet Renee Mathai, a refreshing new mover and shaker in the wider world of womens fly angling and conservation. Fly Life image.

Meet Renee Mathai, a refreshing new mover, and shaker in the wider world of women’s fly angling and conservation.
Fly Life image.

Ladies, start your engines. Saving the best for last, and a wonderful spirit of enthusiasm

The expo had a lot of female participants, and perhaps the real highlight of the entire expo. That, thanks to Bay Street Outfitters’ new but veteran angler and Master Naturalist of the Low Country, Renee Mathai.

Renee is a gifted angler with lots of travel experience along with several hardy outbound ventures with her mentor, author, guide and good friend Molly Semenik (25 Best Off-The-Beaten-Path Montana Fly Fishing Streams, and featured in Catherine Comar’s A Graceful Rise: Women in Fly Fishing, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow). Renee’s  angling interests are found in all the subjects within the avocation’s reach: environment, habitat, seasons, tides, water quality, redfish behavior, redfish spawning cycles, redfish diet and more, lots more.

Renee also teaches her female clients about the environment, habitat, and fish biology. She says her newborn lady anglers and outdoor enthusiasts has freed up more than a few moms from the toils of “club life.”

Vendors were not in short supply

Again, Ben Austin anchored the Orvis booth with the Helios and Recon rods … test driven all day. BTW: The Recon’s are very good in every aspect of casting. The price point is attractive.

The world’s friendliest Simms rep, Jimmy Dobes, held court next to the traveling RV. He accounted for most of the in-the-mood to buy something traffic. I fell for the wading boots. I think Jimmy talked my socks off?

The wrap up was to ask any question one wanted to. No one left with an unanswered question

Sorry, you missed this expo. As Dodger fans used to say at the conclusion of every Ebbets Field season in Brooklyn, New York – “Wait ‘till next year.”

NOTE: Featured Image is GRASSTAIL. Credit Bay Street Outfitters.

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