John Kelley answers a few questions about the first ever London Fly Fishing Fair.
- What inspired you to create The London Fly Fishing Fair?
Fergus and I are desperately keen on all forms of fly fishing. Having travelled the world following our passion, we felt there was no real focus in London for this amazing sport. As an exhibition organizer, it was an easy step to start the London Fly Fishing Fair.
- You and your son, Fergus, share a love of fly fishing. How did you originally discover fishing and what do you love so much about it?
I started course fishing on local lakes and rivers whilst at school, but I was introduced to fly fishing by my Italian uncle who took me trout and salmon fishing in the UK. Fergus came with me occasionally, but preferred to fish with his friends until an inspirational moment at a friend’s ranch in Idaho. He realised fly fishing could become a vocation and went to university at Sparsholt College, studying sport fishing and aquaculture, obtaining an Honors degree. Work experience took Fergus to Argentina, guiding at the famous Pira Lodge in Northern Argentina fishing for the powerful Golden Dorado. Fly fishing is a passion for us both. The romantic idea of hunting fish in remote destinations has been a powerful element of our involvement in the sport. We are happiest with a fly rod in hand!
- What experience do you have to help make The London Fly Fishing Fair on March 10-11 a successful one?
Personally, I have fly fished for 40 years all over the world and Fergus comes with 3 year guiding experience and a host of worldwide contacts. I have been organizing exhibitions for the last 8 years and have large infrastructure to manage and set up exhibitions in London. With the powerful presence of our PR company Zambuni, this will be a groundbreaking exhibition.
- Why do you think the venue, The Business Design Centre, in Islington works for an event such as this?
The Business Design Centre is a fantastic exhibition venue with wonderful natural daylight from the Edwardian glass roof. The wonderful space allows us to create a casting pool and ample space for the exhibitors. The real benefits are the fact that the location is in central London and we are open 9am till 9pm allowing people who work the opportunity to visit on the Friday.
- Who would you ideally like to attract to the fair? What new audiences do you think it could appeal to?
We believe that we will attract the traditional fly fishermen who live in London and those who can travel to this central location, but we are also trying hard to introduce a new generation into fly fishing by instruction and education. We want to communicate that fly fishing is not as elitist as some believe. We want to show easy access to fly fishing venues and equipment that will not break the bank. This is a sport for everyone.
- How do you see The London Fly Fishing Fair developing over the next 5 years?
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.
- I understand that you will have a substantial international influence there. Can you mention some of the international companies confirmed and why you think this is important?
Already we have attracted some very important fly fishing exhibitors including Jurassic Lake, Nervous Waters, West Coast Angling, Urban Angling New York, Fishing TV, Timsbury Fishing, Fly Dreamers, Fin and Game, Piemonte River Lodge, and Funky Fly Tying. Joining is fly fishing fanatic and Orvis UK Ambassador, Marina Gibson, and also 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 also an ambassador for the Angling Trust. We have also confirmed expert angler Charles Jardine will be leading demonstrations at 11am on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th. We believe visitors will be inspired by the experts and find out how they too can unleash a love for the sport.