Orvis Guide Rendezvous 2016 Recap

These things just keep getting better and better. While the weather around Missoula hit the high 70s and bright sun bumped the rivers, in town hundreds of fishy men and women met up for the annual Orvis Guide Rendezvous to talk everything from tippet strength to trash in the oceans. What a great lineup this year- just a killer event all around. If you’re a working guide, a shop owner or an industry rep, you shouldn’t miss this chance to talk shop and have a blast. When else can you talk rod design over a beer with the team behind the Helios 2? Or get real face time with the guys in the trenches on some of our biggest conservation efforts like Save Our Smith, the Clark Fork Coalition, or Conservation Hawks? Yep, it’s a good time. Maybe it was that perfect weather, but this year really brought out the best in everyone and the presenters and panel topics were excellent.

With kids like these leading the charge, the future of fly fishing looks like it is in good hands. “Bringing Youth Into Fly Fishing” guest speakers, Cameron and Jace (or it could be A.J, their twins) Garcia from Twin Territory having some fun  casting at the Down The Hatch festival.

With so many great discussions over the weekend, the hard part is narrowing it down to just a few to talk about here so I’m going to focus on a few things that I thought were especially unique and appreciated from the event. Of course the conservation clinics were all excellent, and Orvis does a great job backing up the words and efforts of the guys and girls in the field with real, actionable campaigns to match. Can’t say that about many other “core” flyfishing brands. For this guide, who spends most days working out of a drift boat under the hot sun with clients chugging back water from disposable single-use bottles, the “Kick Plastic” presentation by Peter Vandergrift of Costa was particularly beneficial. I’ll be making the effort this season to switch from the cases upon cases of bottled water I’ve been using for guide trips to metal reusable water containers, and I gained z lot of insight from other guides and outfitters about how this is working in their operations. This is a big one, and I hope more guides jump on board.

Though I didn’t participate, the word from the women in attendance was that the Women’s Leadership discussion was a huge success- and based on the wife’s awesome outing with some of the other women in attendance she couldn’t wait to see what Orvis and their women’s team helps bring into the sport. While on a break from the festivities floating the Blackfoot with her friend Maddie, (and excellent guide Jason Brinnenstool) they ran into two other boats filled to the brim with ladies casting big stoneflies to picky fish. How often does that happen? Not often enough! Orvis is doing a great job bringing women into the fold, and there was quite a crew at this event making things a little less plaid and khaki and a whole lot prettier! And man, they can fish. Good stuff.

For myself, this year’s “breakout” presentation came from the boys at Twin Territory, a youth fly fishing team working out of Utah to bring the next generation into fly fishing. And man, are they fighting the good fight. From video game swaps to starting fly fishing clubs in schools, these guys are all enthusiasm and excitement. Just what the sport needs. I took away some great tips on working with kids and parents, and laughed a lot in their great discussion. With tips from Orvis Guide of the Year John Herzer (and dad to one hell of a fishy kid) and the enthusiasm of all the guides in the room, this discussion brought the fun into fishing in a big way. Candy, toys, and no tailing loops. Great stuff from those Twin Territory dudes. Just plain awesome.

Swagged out. I needed an extra set of hands to carry out all the gear Orvis tossed our way at the event, and I can’t wait to get it out there and see how it stacks up. That Hydros SL reel is one hell of a toy. Might need another…Or two.

Did I mention this year’s Down the Hatch festival? Best yet. Great guide Olympics, amazing movies, and more hoots and hollers than should be legally allowed. Caras Park was filled to the brim for the event, and the excellent weather had everyone in good spirits. Maybe it was the free beer from Big Sky brewing, or the enthusiastic crowd for the Guide Olympics, but this year seemed to top all others.

Toss the bag, win the cooler. Man, I gotta work on my rescue skills.
 And yes, those are one of a kind custom-painted Yeti coolers. Did I mention I need to work on my rope bag skills?
The Down the Hatch films this year were kicked off by none other than Hank Patterson, whose touching tribute to the late Reese Ferguison brought the crowd to their feet. I’m going to go out on a limb here, but in my opinion the films at this year’s Guide Rendezvous were better than those offered up by the Fly Fishing Film Tour. Seriously. they hit every base from amazing tarpon eats to touching moments. you owe it to yourself to give TwoFisted Heart Productions “Mend” a look. So good. Orvis chose some great films to feature, but this one will have you remembering just how vital fly fishing is to all of our lives. 
To top off the weekend, Jayme won a new Orvis Hydros SL reel and Hydros Nymph line at the film festival, and with Sam Orvis (whose effort designing this killer reel) sitting behind her for the films she made sure to personally thank him for his work. I’m just a little jealous… If you haven’t checked that reel out do it now! Pretty sure it will stop a truck, and it looks drop dead sexy to boot. 
With such a great event wrapped up and in the books, I’m sure there are lots of guide going home with new ideas and lots of new inspiration for an awesome season. For myself, this event has served as a kickoff to my guide season each year, and I’ve truly appreciated the effort Orvis makes to bring this killer event to Missoula every year. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends at next year’s event already- and Jayme’s ready to give that new Hydros SL reel a workout this season on the river. Thanks to Orvis and all the participants for making this OGR16 the best yet. 

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