The London Fly Fishing Fair
The inaugural London Fly Fishing Fair will take place at The Business Design Centre, Islington, London, on March 10–11.
Co-founded by keen fishermen John and Fergus Kelley, the exhibition will exclusively feature fly fishing and outdoor lifestyle brands and experiences in central London, for both novice and accomplished anglers.
“Fergus and I have travelled the world following our passion,” says John. “The romantic idea of hunting fish in remote destinations has been a powerful element of our involvement in the sport, and nothing makes us happier than when armed with a fly rod – no matter what the quarry species. However we felt there was no real focus in London for this amazing sport and as an exhibition organizer, I decided it was an easy step to start the London Fly Fishing Fair.
“I began fishing when I was still at school, on local lakes and rivers after coarse fish, and was introduced to fly fishing by an Italian uncle who took me trout and salmon fishing in the UK. Years later, Fergus joined me on occasion in his youth, but he chose to embrace this sport after an inspirational moment at a friend’s ranch in Idaho.”
Here Fergus realised that fishing could be his true vocation in life and went on to get a degree in Sport Fishing and Aquaculture at Sparsholt College. Work experience saw Fergus guiding at the famous Pira Lodge in northern Argentina in search of the mystical golden dorado.
Fergus added: “Fly fishing has been a very big part of my life for many years now, travelling extensively around the world to fish. However, London is my home and bringing the sport to the many Londoners who have not seen or been able to get involved in fly fishing really inspired me to bring it here.”
The London Fly Fishing Fair is a great place for people of all ages and abilities to learn and get involved. It's also a great opportunity to meet the people behind the brands and learn about new products and technology in fly fishing.
Companies already in support of the fair include Orvis, Flydreamers, Fish Mongolia, Loop, West Coast Fishing, Iolus Fishing, Golden Dorado River Cruises, Thornwood Fisheries, GAIA, Fishing for Forces, Fin and Game, and Nervous Waters.
John and Fergus have enough fishing experience between them to bring in such strong brands for the fair, but what about their expertise in exhibitions and large-scale shows to make it all happen?
John is founder and director of KelleyCo, which runs The London Textile Fair, a trade show that also calls The Business Design Centre its home. He explains: “I have been organising exhibitions for the last eight years and have large infrastructure to manage and set up shows in London. With the powerful presence of our PR company Zambuni, this will be a groundbreaking exhibition with the right support needed for organisation, communication and active engagement from visitors.
“Additionally, The Business Design Centre is a fantastic venue with an Edwardian glass roof that casts wonderful natural daylight throughout and provides ample space to fit in all exhibitors and even a casting pool. The main benefit lies in its location in central London, so we are able to remain open from 9am–9pm to allow people who work long hours the opportunity to visit.”
The Fair will provide a gateway for all to learn about the various aspects of the fly fishing industry worldwide, offering visitors the chance to get involved in a hands-on way. John continues “We believe that we will attract the traditional fly fishermen who live in London and those willing to travel, but we are also trying hard to introduce a new generation to fly fishing by instruction and education. We want to communicate that fly fishing is not an elitist sport, contrary to what some believe, and show easy access to venues and equipment that does not break the bank. This is a sport for everyone.”
Casting demonstrations and tutorials from the likes of British, European and World fly casting champion Hywel Morgan, and all-round angling guru Charles Jardine will feature at the Fair. Fly tying, debates, captivating films and discussions will also be run throughout.
Joining fly fishing fanatic and Orvis UK ambassador Marina Gibson in support of the inaugural event, is James Stokoe, who has also been announced as the latest ambassador for the London Fly Fishing Fair. James is the proud winner of the BBC’s fishing programme Earth’s Wildest Waters: The Big Fish and is an ambassador for the Angling Trust.
So what do the Kelleys see for the future of the London Fly Fishing Fair? “We strongly believe that The London Fly Fishing Fair is a springboard to bring more interest into the sport. We would love for it to grow and perhaps take in more country sport activities on its path.”
To purchase early bird tickets at £15 each (admits one adult for both days of the fair), visit thelondonflyfishingfair.co.uk