My Experience at the 2019 Fly Tying Symposium

By Jim Boden

I was selected as one of the finalists for category 1, in this year’s Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing’s tying competition.  I tied four identical Carrie Stevens Blue Devil (Variant) classic featherwing streamers.  It’s was a variant because the feathers used in the original are hard to find or maybe even non-existent.

Blue Devil Classic Streamer

I departed from the SEATAC International Airport, was met by Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Headquarters staff, and transported to the Sheraton Hotel, in Parsippany, New Jersey.  The staff had a room waiting for me which was extremely convenient as the event was held at the same location. 

The official dates for this year’s event was 23-24 November 2019.  After breakfast and a briefing, myself and the other finalists were moved to the Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing booth, where I started tying some classic featherwing streamers.  It didn’t take long before a group of people were gathered around the booth watching these flies being tied.  I tied flies and answered questions all day until closing. 



That evening was symposium dinner and the announcement of the winners in the three categories.  The highlight of show for me was when I was announced as the winner in my category!  I was not expecting to win as I’ve only been tying for a year, selected such hard fly to tie, and wasn’t sure if I did the pattern justice.  Plus, the other two flies in my category were so expertly tied.  A close second to winning was getting congratulated by all the famous tiers in attendance.  I’ve watched so many hours of videos by these people and never dreamed I’d get a chance to meet them.  All were super nice, thanked me for my service, and every one of them are big supporters of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.

Winning First Place, Category 1

The 24th was a repeat of the previous day’s activities except I quit tying around noon, so I could wonder around and enjoy the show.  I was on the hunt for unique rooster capes and 8-10 XL hooks.  Thanks to all the other classic streamer fly tiers and vendors that were present I was able to fill my want list.  By the close of the show I had a box full of capes, hooks, and supplies. 

I’d like to thank: 

  • Larry Braswell and Richard Diamond for taking such good care of us at the show.
  • Gary Strodtz, for his knowledge, mentorship, and support of the Ft. Lewis Program. 
  • The Ft. Lewis Program leadership for their dedication to disabled veterans. 
  • Puget Sound Fly Company for their support of our Program. 
  • The participants and volunteers of the Ft. Lewis Program, with special recognition to Chuck, Nate, Jim, and Keiran. 

In closing, I just want to say all the surgeries, doctors, meetings, and pills could not heal what was ailing me.  Hats off to the Ft. Lewis Program, for being the only cure to a wounded soul. 


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