I just finished photographing, sorting and shipping a dozen Clouser Minnows tied by fly tyers from across the country. I was the host this fly swap. Participating in this capacity was a lot of fun. The swap even helped me learn some new tricks in Photoshop and Lightroom.
Here is how it works. Someone declares they want to host a swap on a Forum. The forum I hang out at is Fly Fishing On The Web (FFOTW.com). The host gets to pick what type of fly to tie or a theme. I picked Clouser Minnows. Enrollment is open to members until there are a sufficient number of tyers and then the swap is closed. The host sets the due date and instructs the members where to send the flies. Forum members produce their creations, plus one extra fly. The flies are sent to the host along with a return mailer and postage. When all flies are received the host sorts the flies so that everyone gets one fly from each participating tyer. Many hosts photograph the flies to share with all the members of the forum. I did the team photo above and also made a composite of the individual fly photos I took. All the above steps have been completed and I also made a trip to the post office today to ship all the members their flies.
What happens to the extra fly? We auction the extra set off on ebay and donate the money to a fly fishing centric charity. We have selected Project Healing Waters. An organization that helps injured veterans that are returning home. Healing Waters assists in their rehabilitation by teaching them to fly fish. We have several more auctions planned in the near future for this great organization.
I have now participated in a few fly swaps. All quite different but always a lot of fun. A big benefit for me has been an opportunity to be disciplined about producing a set of flies in a timely manner. Tying season is starting out and the swaps have given me a chance to get back into the groove for my winter sessions at the tying bench.