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Speakers

Retired Marine Jim Bensinger, owner of Fiber Flies Dubbing, is obsessed with all things fly fishing—and especially with fly tying. Bensinger has developed a line of materials derived from Alpaca, which is perfect for dubbing and user-friendly enough that amateur fly tiers will love it. Bensinger also serves as the Marine Corps Base Quantico Program Lead for Project Healing Waters. He has led hundreds of fly-tying classes and has a gift for bringing novices into the fly-tying fold. Bensinger is on the national pro staff for Norvise and will teach a specialized “Beginner Fly Tying” class as well as a specialty class on tying wet flies. Interested in being notified when registration opens for either class? Shoot us an email: Fishutopia@comcast.net.

Mac Brown of Mac Brown Fly Fishing & Guide School was the first full-time fly fishing guide in Western North Carolina. Educating fly anglers is Brown’s burning passion; he fulfills that role as an Associate Professor at Western Carolina University. He is the author of Casting Angles, and in 2017 was inducted into the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians Hall of Fame. When not on campus or on the stream, Brown teaches specialty casting classes all over the country. He’s a certified Master Casting Instructor with Fly Fishers International, and has served as a coach for multiple fly casting competitive anglers. Brown is on the pro-staff of Regal Vice, Simms, and Ross Reels, among other national brands. This year we are delighted to offer Brown’s “Advanced Fly Casting for Instructors” class. This specialty class will be held at the festival hotel on Friday, the day before the festival. This day-long class has very limited seating and includes a weekend pass to the festival. Brown will also be speaking at the festival.  To check availability for Mac’s classes click here.

Pat Dorsey is the head guide and co-owner of The Blue Quill Angler fly shop in Evergreen, Colorado, where he has guided for 30 years. He oversees and trains more than 25 guides, setting the standard for integrity and professionalism in the Blue Quill Angler guide operation. Dorsey also maintains an online stream report that monitors stream flows and conditions for the Blue, Colorado, South Platte (Cheesman, Deckers, Spinney Mountain Ranch, and Elevenmile Canyon), North Fork of the South Platte, and Williams Fork Rivers. Dorsey is a Simms Ambassador, a member of the Sage Elite Pro Team, a Fishpond Ambassador, an Orvis Pro Team Member, a Yeti pro staffer, and a Scientific Anglers pro staffer. He is also the Southwest Field Editor for Fly Fisherman magazine. In 2009 Dorsey authored Fly Fishing Tailwaters, a comprehensive book on how to fish tailwater fisheries. In 2010 a companion book hit the shelves: Tying and Fishing Tailwater Flies, which is jam-packed with how to tie Dorsey’s favorite “guide flies.” This book includes 500 step-by-step tutorials, as well as helpful tips and illustrations on how to rig and fish them. His latest book is 2015’s Colorado Guide Flies, which features tips from the state’s best guides and includes approximately 600 proven guide flies with recipes. A fly designer for Umpqua Feather Merchants, Pat Dorsey is himself an accomplished fly tier with numerous original patterns to his credit, including the Mercury series, UV scud, Limeade, Cherry-Limeade, Paper Tiger, Top Secret Midge, Medallion Midge, and the famed Black Beauty. Although he no longer has the time to tie flies commercially, he once produced over 28,000 flies in a year. We are thrilled to announce that Pat Dorsey will join us in 2022 for the first time, when he will offer his specialty class, “Fly Fishing Tailwaters.” If you’d like to be notified when registration opens for this limited seating class, please email Fishutopia@comcast.net.

Capt. Gary Dubiel, owner of Spec Fever Guide Service, has been running inshore, nearshore and coastal river charters for 20 seasons.  He is a lifelong fly fisherman but also a passionate light tackle angler. Gary pioneered the popping cork craze for NC trophy red drum, turning what was a night time bait fishery into a day time artificial lure fishery.  Progressing that one step further, Gary invented the Pop-N-Fly rig and revolutionized fly fishing for these giant reds. The Pop N Fly is produced by the Flymen Fishing Company and Capt. Gary has written an accompanying book, “Dubiel’s Pop-N-Fly.” Capt. Gary has written and lectured on both light tackle and fly fishing and he has appeared on local. national and international angling shows He is a frequent speaker at both local, national and international fishing shows. He has also been featured in many major sports fishing magazines and in a number of books. He is an IGFA Fly Rod World Record holder and a fly designer. Gary’s angling adventures have taken him across North American, the Caribbean and to Europe. Gary is on the National Advisory Staff at TFO Rods and is involved in rod design. He is also Brand Ambassador at Florida Fishing Products and Pro Staff with Rapala, Sufix Fishing Line and Storm Lures and professional guide with Costa Sunglasses, Scientific Fly Lines, Regal Vise, Columbia Clothing, Simms and Soft Science Shoes. Don’t miss Captain Gary’s specialty paid class with limited seating on “Locating and Landing Monster Redfish”. Want to be placed on the early notification list this class? Then drop us a note at Fishutopia@comcast.net

Gary Edwards is a 41-year veteran salmon and steelhead guide whose fishing style and techniques articles have been featured in Fly Fisherman, Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Field & Stream, Gray’s Sporting Journal, The New York Times, and numerous regional publications and national television shows. Edwards and his wife hosted the popular PBS fly fishing/travel series “Vacations on the Fly.” He is currently on the Sage, Rio, Redington, and Temple Fork Outfitters pro staffs and is an active member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Edwards will offer an exciting new class, “Advanced Tactics for Landing Salmon and Steelhead,” once each day of the festival. Each session has limited seating. Check back later to learn more. Would you like us to notify you when registration becomes available for Edwards’ class? No problem: Send us an email at Fishutopia@comcast.net.

Kiki Galvin, owner of Ms. Guided Fly Fishing Services, has been a fly-fishing guide since 2002. Galvin has volunteered with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing since 2007 and was recently recognized as Volunteer of the Year for the National Capital region. Galvin is an enthusiastic instructor and a longtime member of the International Women Fly Fishers. As in years past, she will be teaching our incredibly popular free walk-up casting classes again this year.

As a child Kaitlin Groundwater chased smallmouth bass on a fly rod in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in International Relations (and minors in French and Chemistry), Groundwater went to work for Orvis teaching fly-casting and fly-tying classes; she also taught several on-the-water fly-fishing schools on techniques for fishing for trout and bass. Heading West, Groundwater managed Madison Valley Ranch–an Orvis-endorsed fly fishing lodge in Ennis, Montana–and explored Southwest Montana’s finest trout fisheries including the Madison, Yellowstone, Big Hole, and Missouri rivers. Since then Groundwater has returned to her fly fishing roots: She founded Hook Set Fly Fishing, through which she offers everything from beginner casting classes to fly-tying classes to guided trips on rivers and streams throughout the DC-MD-VA region. She is eager to share her knowledge of fly fishing and Virginia streams with anglers of all skill levels.

Dr. Andrij Horodysky has been a Signature Fly Designer for Umpqua Feather Merchants since 2001, and holds BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Marine Science. His expertise is in studies of fish sensory ecology, behavior, and conservation. Presently an Faculty member at Hampton University, Andrij’s fisheries research career has ranged from chasing marlin around the Caribbean’s high seas with satellite tags, flashing lights at fish eyes and sounds at gamefish ears, and rigging security cameras, beauty mirrors, and yoga mats to measure fish temperature preferences. Andrij’s creative interdisciplinary research has resulted in 30 scientific publications as well as numerous awards and honors from scientific and angler organizations. Andrij approaches fly design like he approaches his career as a fisheries scientist – thinking intensely from the fish’s perspective. His patterns are born of scientific observations and experiments; his “Sci-fly” tying philosophy applies tenets of aquatic optics and fish sensory physiology – a unique voice in the industry. Combining light-bending synthetics to give impressions of movement with the breathability and silhouette of natural materials, he developed the Toadfish, Angora Shrimp, Epoxy Mudbug, Ripcord Caddis, Nitro Caddis Pupa, Brasstards, Mohawk Beetle, and Mopsicle series. His uniquely engineered patterns exploit vulnerabilities in fish sensory systems and have been effective worldwide in fresh and salt. Be sure to stop by Andrij’s booth and purchase a selection of his unique patterns. Want to learn how to time them yourself? Be sure to take in his demonstrations in the Featured Fly Tier’s area.

Swansboro, North Carolina-based fly-fishing guide and fly-rod builder Captain John Mauser has been fishing the fresh and salt waters of the Tar Heel State for more than 35 years. Since 2012 Mauser’s Tailing Tide Guide Service has run fresh and saltwater charters in pursuit of everything from shad and striped bass to redfish, speckled trout, flounder, mackerel, albacore, shark, and more. In 2013 Mauser helped establish the Crystal Coast Program for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, which rehabilitates disabled military veterans through fly fishing and fly tying. In 2014 Mauser helped re-form the Cape Lookout Albacore Festival and served as a board member for its first five years. All the funds raised from this festival are donated to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. In 2017, marrying his attention to detail and commitment to excellence with his love for fly fishing and passion to bring new enthusiasts into the sport, Mauser launched Mauser Fly Fishing, which manufactures American-made high performance fly rods. Handcrafting the best fly rods is the greatest challenge he has ever undertaken, says Mauser—and he loves every second of it.

At eight years old, Braden Miller taught himself to tie flies by watching Youtube and Instagram videos. Now 14, Miller has traveled the country chasing fish with his TFO fly rods and hand-tied flies. Current fave prey: muskie! He has tied flies at the Fly Fishing Expo in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Lefty Kreh’s Tie Fest, and The International Fly Tyers Symposium. Miller was the youngest competitor in last summer’s iCast Iron Fly Competition in Orlando, and tied flies for the Project Healing Waters 2-Fly Tournament at Virginia’s Rose River Farms. This year he started a fishing club at his middle school, and with the support of his principal and science teacher, helped bring in Trout in the Classroom, which teaches students about fishing and conservation. Miller is TFO’s first Junior Ambassador, a Norvise team member, and an ambassador/pro-staff member for Fly Life Company, Flymen Fishing Co., District Angling, Fair Flies, and most recently, Catch Cam Nets. Follow Miller on Instagram at flyfisher0906, on Facebook as Braden.Miller.0906–and watch for his upcoming YouTube channel!

Karin Miller, whose big smile has earned her the nickname Colgate, is the owner of Zen Tenkara/Zen Fly Fishing Gear, a 100%-women-owned Colorado company that designs, manufactures, and sells a broad range of tenkara fly rods, lines, and accessories. Since 2012 Miller’s innovative, cutting-edge company has fused traditional fly fishing and traditional Japanese tenkara to target not only small fish species but also large, powerful fish not typically associated with the ancient method. Boundary-pushing Zen Tenkara, the first women-owned rod company in the world, is defining “American Tenkara” with its high-performance rods. Miller herself fishes around the globe and travels extensively to test rods, present, train guides, and give demos. Originally from South Florida, Miller has been in Colorado since 1999, where she resides with her family (both human and canine). Don’t miss Karin Miller’s tenkara casting demonstrations at this year’s festival.

John Morgan has been devoted to fly fishing with bamboo rods for as long as he can remember. At the Atlanta architectural firm he worked for, Morgan met coworker Jeff Purdy–and immediately recognized another avid fly angler. Over many years of friendship, Morgan and Purdy have fished all over North America: Yellowstone and the Northwest for western cutthroat trout; the Southeast intercoastal waters for reds and sea trout; the Florida Keys and Mexico for bonefish, permit, and baby tarpon; and Canada for smallmouth bass, pike, and muskie. Both Morgan and Purdy fish with the high-quality custom rods they themselves have built, crafted especially for the fish they’re seeking. Together they run ARC Fly Rods located in Roswell, Georgia.

Tim O’Neill, who began fly fishing at ten, is the founder and owner of O’Neill’s Fly Fishing, an online community dedicated to all aspects of fly fishing culture. For three decades his passion for the quiet sport has carried him through many parts of the industry including retail sales, commercial fly tying, lecturing, seminar teaching, and guiding. He recently became the owner of the Nor-vise fly tying system. O’Neill’s fly fishing exploits have been published in Out and About Delaware and Delaware Today, and he’s also been a guest on NPR. O’Neill considers himself an educator first: he loves nothing better than to help others learn more about this great sport. When asked what is his favorite fish to catch, his response is always the same: “The one on the end of my tippet.” Don’t miss Tim’s class on Tactic’s for Steelhead. Attendees can reach O’Neill to discuss all things fly fishing at tim@oneillsflyfishing.com.

Rod-building might have begun as a hobby for Jeff Purdy–but that hobby quickly became a passion. Purdy has been repairing and crafting bamboo rods since 1990. For 30 years he and business partner and friend John Morgan have applied an architect’s commitment to detail to craft their elegant, high-quality, durable split cane fly rods. Located in historic Roswell, Georgia, ARC Fly Rods, which opened its doors in late 2019, offers professional instruction, rod-building workshops, and custom bamboo rods for sale. Purdy and Morgan take every opportunity to share their rod-building and fly-fishing expertise and love of the quiet sport with their customers.

Matt Reilly is a full-time, independent fly fishing guide; freelance writer; and outdoor columnist based in southwest Virginia. He specializes in float trips for smallmouth bass, musky, and wild trout, utilizing the world-class waters of southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee. His writing has appeared in several national and regional publications like Eastern Fly Fishing, American Angler, Fly Tyer, Southern Trout, Hatch Magazine, and Virginia Wildlife, and in The Daily Progress in the form of his weekly outdoor column, Adventures Afield, which has seen more than 350 editions. He is also an ambassador, adviser, and team member for Reilly Rod Crafters, a family-owned rod company building premium, American-made fly rods.

Lauren Riggleman (@BabyHooch) is a Distiller & the General Manager for Silverback Distillery. A second generation distiller, Lauren received her Master’s Degree in Fermentation Sciences: Brewing and Distilling from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. While spending a year in Scotland, Lauren became a member of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and spent time researching the similarities and differences between Scottish and American distilling and brewing practices. Lauren loves to get involved with all things whiskey on social media, and has appeared on the ABV Network’s podcast The Bourbon Daily a number of times. She joined her mother in the ABV Network’s Hall of Fame as the 39th inductee. Lauren is also teaching the first ever General Certificate in Distilling Course starting at Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville. She’s been busy of late having become not only a first time parent along with her husband Brant, but recently becoming a Master Distiller. You can check out Lauren’s Bourbon & Bass Bugs Class which has limited seating and is only offered on Saturday by clicking here.

Jen Ripple is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the international flyfishing lifestyle magazine, DUN Magazine. In addition to her work at DUN, she writes the Fly Fishing Women’s Buyer’s Guide for Outside Magazine and the Women’s Best Of column for Gray’s Sporting Journal, among others.  She is a member of the Executive Board of Directors for Fly Fishers International, member of the Board of Directors for the Professional Outdoor Media Association, member of the Executive Board of Directors for the Harpeth River Conservancy, member of the Advisory Committee for the TU Service Partnership and a former member of the Board of Directors for the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. She has been named Southerner of the Year by Southern Living Magazine and is considered one of the top women changing the sport of fly fishing. Ripple is a professional angler and conference speaker, who spends her time empowering anglers by teaching fly tying and casting clinics, speaking nationwide on a variety of topics, and devoting her time to conservation efforts through nonprofits.  A sounding board for women in this currently male-dominated sport, Ripple has created a home base for women worldwide to connect and engage in the art of fly fishing. We are pleased to have Jen with us for the first time this year. If you’re a lady angler looking to take your skills to the next level, be sure to take in her class on Becoming An Independent Angler. If you’re interested in getting early notification about this limited seating class send an e-mail to Fishutopia@comcast.net.

Snookie Risch has fished all her life. In 2014 fishing brought her peace and healing as she coped with the death of her Paw-Paw, her grandfather and best friend. Today Risch provides fishing opportunities in her local community to disabled children through programs like Beyond Boundaries and CAST for Kids. She enjoys fishing from a kayak with her dogs Harbor and Willow on board; in fact, these trips inspired her TikTok series on how to train your dog to boat with you. Risch is a tournament assistant for the Virginia Elite 70 trail and a Wave Maker for TakeMeFishing.org. She is proud to serve as a voice for women, diversity, inclusion, and angler retention in the quiet sport of fly fishing. Meet Snookie Risch and other notable outdoor sportswomen at this year’s “Ask a Woman Angler” class. This class is geared specifically for new female anglers and other novices, but all are warmly welcome.

Tom Rosenbauer has been a fly fisher for 50 years and was a commercial fly tier by age 14. He has fished extensively across North America, in England’s fabled chalk streams, on Christmas Island, and in the Bahamas, Belize, Kamchatka, and Chile. He is credited with bringing bead-head flies to North America and is the inventor of the Big Eye hook, Magnetic Net Retriever, and tungsten beads for fly tying. Rosenbauer has some 20 fly fishing books in print including The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide; Reading Trout Streams; Prospecting for Trout; Casting Illusions; Fly Fishing in America; Approach and Presentation; Trout Foods and Their Imitations; Nymphing Techniques; Leaders, Knots, and Tippets; Dry-Fly Techniques; The Orvis Fly Fishing Encyclopedia; and The Orvis Fly-Tying Guide, which won a 2001 National Outdoor Book Award. Salt, Rosenbauer’s collaboration with photographer Andy Anderson, also won a National Outdoor Book Award in 2014. He has been published in Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Catalog Age, Fly Fisherman, Gray’s Sporting Journal, Sporting Classics, Fly Rod & Reel, Audubon, Men’s Journal, and more. His latest book, Fly Fishing for Trout—The Next Level, was published in November 2016. Rosenbauer is the writer and narrator of “The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide Podcast,” one of the top outdoor podcasts on iTunes. Rosenbauer has worked for the Orvis Company for 44 years in a variety of capacities. In 2022 he was awarded Fly Rod & Reel’s Angler of the Year Award for his many educational efforts in books, magazine articles, and his podcast. He lives with his wife and son in southern Vermont on the banks of his favorite trout stream. We are delighted to have Tom Rosenbauer join us this year to teach a variety of specialty classes with limited seating. Check back this fall to learn more about how you can register for his exciting classes. If you’d like us to notify you when Rosenbauer’s classes become available for registration, please send us an email at Fishutopia@comcast.net.

Allen Rupp has been tying flies for 30 years now. Growing up around the District of Columbia, his first fish on the fly were Potomac River smallies. Allen now owns and operates Fly On the Water  and while he lives in New York City, his flies have caught fish all over the world–from Belize, Chile, Canada, Mexico, the UK, and the Seychelles to Colorado, Montana, New York, Wisconsin, and beyond. Lately saltwater fish–and especially snook–have been taking up most of his time. This is Allen’s second appearance at the Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival. and we are pleased to have him. He’ll be tying flies and doing demos at his booth throughout the weekend.

Capt. Mike Tayloe guided for several outfitters in Colorado before moving back home to the North Carolina salt. Today “Tayloe” is an inshore charter captain on North Carolina’s Inner Banks and spends his winters guiding for Lakutaia Heli Fishing in Patagonia, Chile. With more than 20 years of experience in pre-hospital emergency care as a paramedic focusing on remote and wilderness medicine, Tayloe is the director of operations and co-founder of Katabatic Consulting and Finns West, which provides custom wilderness first aid courses and emergency action plan development. He has provided remote medical services from Mount Everest to Antarctica and taught custom wilderness first aid courses from Patagonia to the Bahamas. We are so pleased to have him speaking on first aid and other medical concerns for traveling anglers at this year’s festival.

Wanda Taylor’s unparalleled casting skills are the reason she teaches casting classes; her Southern charm and affability are the reason we ask her back year after year. Taylor is on the national pro staff with Temple Fork Outfitters and has been inducted into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame at the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians. She was the first female Certified Master Casting Instructor recognized by the International Federation of Fly Fishers. Taylor is one of the best casters in the country and will be teaching a variety of classes at this year’s festival.

Retired Marine Chris Thompson is the Chairman of the Board for the Cape Lookout Albacore and Redfish Festival, which benefits Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF). Thompson serves his fellow Veterans through PHWFF. He is currently the Program Lead for the Camp Lejeune PHWFF Program. He fly fishes as much as he can and is a Temple Fork Outfitters Ambassador and member of Team Hobie Fishing. Thompson and his wife Kellie, his primary fishing partner, have five children. If you’re looking for an edge with false albacore on the fly, don’t miss Thompson’s class!

Tim Urtiaga discovered fly fishing at a very young age and quickly decided he wanted to share his love for the quiet sport with others. Over the years Urtiaga has successfully guided many clients to beautiful trout on New Mexico’s famed San Juan River. After catching a few monster Northern pike on the fly, Urtiaga was himself “hooked”—and began to offer the only guided fly-fishing trips for Northern pike off of a boat. Urtiaga, who has been featured in Field & Stream and American Fly Fishing, is trying to raise awareness of Northern pike, abolish the catch-and-kill rule, and increase conservation efforts to protect this species. Urtiaga opened Eagle Nest Fly Shack in Eagle Nest, New Mexico, to provide a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts with the gear and equipment they need to become independent anglers. The Fly Shack, which really did begin as a shack beside an old gas station, thrived and grew until Urtiaga expanded to include more space and even lodging. Today Eagle Nest Fly Shack and Lodge offers eight hotel-style accommodations as well as guided fishing with four different experienced fishing guides.

Captain Simón Valencia is the co-owner of Current Culture Fly, Richmond’s only independent fly shop. A native of Bogota, Colombia, Valencia emigrated  to Miami, where he learned to fish for largemouth bass, chain pickerel, striped bass, red drum, and speckled trout with his cousins. A recovering social worker, Valencia guides full-time on the James River, Chickahominy River and Lake, and the Chesapeake Bay. Capt. Valencia will co-teach our popular Bourbon & Bass Bugs class, in which he will reveal the bass patterns he uses with his own clients and how to fish them effectively. At the conclusion of this class, students will take home with them a selection of bass bugs to keep and use.

Michael Williams caught his first fish on a fly in Colorado’s famed Cheesman Canyon; 27 years later he is still just as obsessed. Williams became the head guide for Colorado’s oldest guide service and a lead instructor at the Orvis Rocky Mountain Fly Fishing School, eventually founding the destination travel company Nomadic Waters to fish all over the world with his favorite clients during Colorado’s off-season. He worked in marketing and product development for Patagonia before being recruited to run Orvis’ wholesale business for the Pacific Northwest, Western Canada, and Alaska. When in 2008 Williams volunteered with a relief and humanitarian aid group focused on small jungle communities of the Brazilian Amazon, he fell in love with the people and the jungle fisheries of Northern Brazil. Today he spends three months a year running trips in the Brazilian jungle, where he teaches jungle fly fishing strategies and has trained his Brazilian staff how to host and guide fly anglers as they pursue some of the most sought-after species in the world. Ten percent of Nomadic Waters’ profits are spent on infrastructure and clean water solutions for the families of the Uatumã Reserve in the Brazilian Amazon. During Brazil’s off-season, you’ll find Williams chasing largemouth bass in Mexico or stripers in his home waters of Georgia.

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For more information, contact Beau Beasley at (703) 402-8338 or fishutopia@comcast.net