Seriously, who doesn’t love a little slice of swine? Belly flab so tasty it’s actually considered “cured.” Such distinct flavor, yet, much like its cousin, the sausage, we never really bother thinking about how it’s made. We just know what we like.
Enter the crew from Pig Farm Ink. These guys have been bringing their own distinct flavor to the GoPro Mountain Games as a sideshow of the Costa 2-Fly X-Stream competition for almost five years now. And, although they don’t actually deal in bacon (or any kind of meats, for that matter), this unique fly fishing, lifestyle and event brand will be bringing a little something extra to the table in 2018 in partnership with the Vail Valley Foundation’s GoPro Mountain Games.
On Friday, June 8, Pig Farm will be pulling together the inaugural Costa Fly Tying Competition at the 2018 Mountain Games and pulling back the curtain on the skills that go into creating the artistic snacks that ultimately define the sport of fly fishing. A sparkle wing here, a pheasant tail there. Add a dash of flashabou, and soon enough we’ll all be hooked.
“From my perspective, mountain sports aren’t about winning something. It’s more about the experience. But there are people that are doing such special-a** stuff — whether it’s slackline or whitewater SUP or any of the other crazy things people are doing out there — it’s just entertaining and it’s showing off sports that people should actually pay attention to,” said Jay Johnson, Pig Farm Ink’s ‘boss hog’. “This is our sport. Not only that, it’s our ‘mountain’ sport. That’s really where fly fishing is rooted. So it’s pretty cool to have the Mountain Games look at what we’re doing and say, ‘Yeah, we’re down.’”
Johnson and Pig Farm are best known for their signature Iron Fly events, casual “contests” (think fly tying meets Iron Chef) designed to introduce and engage newcomers to the sport of fly fishing through a combination of bobbins, beer and the occasional blindfold. While the Costa Fly Tying Competition will also include an informal Iron Fly event, the “Open” category complete with a $600 purse and several pairs of top-shelf Costa sunglasses awarded to podium finishers is serious business sure to attract the best fly-tiers from around the region.
The format is pretty straightforward: three timed rounds of competition, with 10 tiers eliminated every round and winners determined in the final. Competitors are responsible for bringing their own tools, but hooks and materials — including some mystery materials — will be provided (along with a beer included in the $40 entry fee).
“Judging by Blane Chocklett, Hilary Hutcheson and myself will be based off your body of work: a streamer, a dry fly and a nymph,” Johnson said. “Flies will be judged on fundamentals, creativity and fishability. So it’s legit for the situation. I’m sure we’ll sell out the 30-person field, just because people want to show off how good they are.”
Colorado long ago solidified its reputation as a hotbed of fly-tying innovation, with a lengthy roster of cutting-edge artisans establishing informal rivalries to determine who has the most spice in their vice. But the Costa Fly Tying Competition is a rare opportunity for modern gurus like Charlie Craven, Rick Takahashi and other innovators to actually make some bacon, Pig Farm-style.
“As far as I understand, there isn’t really a competitive fly-tying circuit out there anywhere,” Johnson said. “But I don’t understand a whole bunch.”
Like a lot of farmers, Johnson is more savvy than he lets on. And just as the Costa 2 Fly X-Stream fishing competition quickly became one of the most popular events at the GoPro Mountain Games, this unique new showcase of skill and ingenuity is destined to hook a whole new audience.
“Our ultimate objective is to make fly fishing inclusive, make it fun, build community and get people outside,” Johnson said. “To have the blessing of the Mountain Games to say that this is something real, this is something that should be paid attention to, is just amazing.”
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