Every year, it gets better. There are more films, bigger crowds, more impressive venues and more hype to go along with all of it. What is it? It's the F3T - The Fly Fishing Film Tour.
In the past, I've attended the F3T at various venues throughout the United States. They're all good in their own way with colorful personalities and odd quirks that make this event so interesting.
I've been to a relatively tame version at a high school in Fryeburg, Maine. It was put on by a conservation group that wasn't involved in fishing at all. They had a raffle to benefit their cause and through some miraculous happenstance, all of the winners were employees and their family members. There was also a very noticeable lack of beer, which we all know is vital to a proper film festival featuring fly fishing. Still, it was a great display of some filmmakers hard work.
I saw one in Denver and found myself sitting next to none other than Frank Smethurst. He was the rep for about half of the brands featured at Cutthroat Anglers, where I was working at the time. He had his family with him, and showed a very polite and gentlemanly side of his personality. Drinking beer, and watching fishing films with one of the people who inspired my life as an angler (and the guy that actually taught me to throw a spey rod), was quite the experience.
There was the event in Seattle, where Melissa went with me. We were having cocktails at a bar down the street when Steve Apple (Fishizzle and Hustle & Fish) walked in. I had to say hello, but was given the GFY (figure it out) treatment. The film event itself was hilarious. It was a total sausage fest with the exception of Melissa and maybe two other women. Melissa won a Ross Reel (so Jeff really won the Ross reel) and had to walk up front to receive her prize. The show staff made some insulting comments about a woman winning a prize and pretty much assured that Melissa would never attend another F3T again (which is a bummer).
My favorite was Portland, Oregon's F3T in 2014. Right before moving away from the PNW, I had a chance to meet up with one of my fishing mentors who was one of the guys that demonstrated just how cool it could be to fish / tie/ cook / drink beer /etc. We met up in Portland for some amazing beverages - the best one was called The Bourbonic Plague - and then saw the year's collection of films. Shahab was cheering when he spotted one of the industry celebs that he knew. It was a blast and I don't think any other place could host such a good show.
Here in Western North Carolina, Asheville is our "big city". The F3T makes the usual annual stop at Highlands Brewing, which has an amazing tasting room and surprisingly, it is a great place to see some fishing movies. They have tasty beer as well, so that's a bonus. I had seen the show in Portland, but after relocating to the deep and dirty South I went to check out the tour's stop in Asheville last year.
Tonight is the tour's stop in Asheville. There will be films, beer and probably some really good food trucks. It will be a crowded event with all of the usual suspects from the region.
Have you been to this year's tour? You might have missed it, and will have to wait until 2016, but maybe not. Check out www.thef3t.com and see of there's a stop close to you.