Swap Fly Swaps Gone Bad


Creating memories one cast at a time
I returned from an extended vacation yesterday expecting to finally receive some flies from the small bead head fly swap that was supposed to end about a month and a half ago. Nope. Still nada.

This was the first swap I participated in and I admit I was a little excited about it in the beginning. I got my flies in ahead of time, threw in a few extra bucks for return postage. Then things started to go wrong.

Old Man said it. When fly swaps go bad, they go REALLY BAD.

I have been publicly quiet about my frustration with this swap up to this point. OK, so a number of folks that committed to tie flies failed to do so. I don't understand why someone would do his unless, of course, some family or career emergency prevented it.

But in this case, I think there is also sufficient responsibility for this swap going bad by the swap organizer as well: lost addresses, untimely communication or none for weeks, little follow-thru. While it is very noble to volunteer to run a fly swap if you run it well, but running one poorly is just….irresponsible.

I'm sorry, but this swap has been a disappointing experience for me. OK, so maybe this swap is just a silly-little-thing when put into perspective of other world events, but it will make me consider more often that some folks here do not honor their commitments.
It's harder than you think being the swapenmeister. I've handled a couple and I always swear that will be my last.
It's thankless.
Some guys send in less than they should.
Guys are late.
No money for return postage.
No suitable package.

But the last one I did had some beautiful flies in it and I had fun declaring the Washington State Champion (talk about self importance!). I saw some really good tyers do their thing.

Swaps are good--I've been in half a dozen or more and never regretted much and I have some dy-no-mite flies in my boxes as a result.

Maybe we should punish those who screw up. No honoring your committment you go on a list for a year or two. But I would hate to see the swaps stop. Your negative comments, while just no doubt, tend to push us in that direction. Don't know what to do really.

Bob, the :dunno

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
Without making excuses for someone else, maybe it's just summer and vacation time, outdoors season etc. Seems like this happens to us here and there with the swaps. But generally it's been a good thing. I have participated in a few swaps and it has been great for me; some nice flies and some new patterns to try fishing and to learn to tie myself. Once I mail those things out I try to forget about them and just let what happens happen.

I can understand your frustration here though.
I'm not a tier, and have never participated in a swap, but I feel compelled to respond anyway. I think you have every right to be frustrated, DLoop!

Poor communication, irresponsibility, and failure to live up to committments drive me nutzo! :rofl


Active Member
yep....some good some bad.

I have been the moderator on a few swaps and for the most part everything has gone well. I have received everything from top notch excellent ties, to some ties that were atleast 30 years old with rusted hooks and not a single one matched any of the others sent from the same person.

As a moderator its difficult to keep up sometimes cause you are waiting on responses from others that havent sent theres for whatever reason...receiving hate mail for not sending them out on time, ect.... Its tough. But I do feel that if you are going to commit to a swap, you better commit and tie em that night so you dont get surprised a week before the deadline.

~Patrick ><>

Faith is nothing until it is everything!


Idiot Savant
As the swapmeister you get to set the rules. Those that sign up either comply or get left out. If someone misses the drop dead date and his flies show up late, send them back and tough stuff. Those that show up on time, sort them out and send back their flies for those that don't show. Or, keep the extras for the cheapskates that don't send return postage...whatever, you're the boss.

Those that comply will appreciate the quick no-bullshit turnaround.

It's the old addage...you get back what you give out.


Life goes on, enjoy it...
Thanks for bringing this up. This has been eating away at me for a while. I considered a similar post, but it probably would have gotten me kicked off this board.

I signed up for a swap and promptly screwed up the due date in my head. When I checked the board to verify the date, I discovered that my flies were due the next day! I stayed up until the wee hours completing my flies, and sent them Priority Mail the next day.

And waited. And waited. And waited.

The swapmaster posted a message saying he’s been delayed, lots of flies had not come it, etc. Those who had sent in flies suggested that the swapmaster send out what he had received and call it good. He even posted a message saying he was going to the post office the next day.

So I waited. And waited. And waited……………..no flies.

I emailed the swapmaster, asking what was up. No response.

Meanwhile, I noted that the swapmaster was involved in other swaps…and getting flak for being late sending his flies.

I p.m.’d the swapmaster, asking what was up again, and got no response for nearly two weeks. Still no communication, but I did receive some flies in the mail, FOUR MONTHS after the swap started. The flies were an odd assortment—some pairs and a lot of singles. Not what was promised. I wondered if all the participants had to hound him, or if I got skipped somehow, and he just threw together what he could scrape together.

Since then, I’ve really soured on the fly swaps. I’ve refrained from joining a couple that REALLY sounded good.

My take is that if you can’t deliver, be realistic and DON’T SIGN UP. Potential swapmasters—no one said it would be easy. But if you throw your hat in—you’re in, for better or worse.

Although it sounds harsh and maybe against the spirit of this board, those who don’t deliver should be BANNED from swaps, absent a good excuse as judged by the swapmaster.

Communication is the key. It absolutely sucks to be hangin’ out there wondering when something might happen. I’ve seen some great examples of the communication that makes a fly swap successful.

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.

:beathead :beathead :dunno :professor

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
I've been in some swaps that went wrong and have had lots of opportunity to think about what caused them to derail. OTOH, I've hosted three swaps in the past year and all have gone off as promised at the announced deadline. Heck, the damsel swap I recently hosted even had 100% participation with no drop-outs.

I believe that the responsibility for a swap's success or failure rests squarely on the swapmeister's shoulders. IMHO the swapmeister has to be up front and firm in stating when the swap ends; how many tiers will be allowed to participate; what the consequences are for being late; constantly remind, nag and cajole any slow starters; and to regularly post updates that bring the swap topic back to the top of the list in the forum.

He also has to bite the bullet and close the swap when he said it would close, even if there are a couple of stragglers - UNLESS the other participants are OK with extending the deadline by a few days (NOT weeks.)

In short, if you're not ready to accept the responsibility of being a swapmeister, don't volunteer to host a swap. Otherwise, that swap has a better than average chance of failure.

But swap participants have obligations as well.

Don't sign up unless you have every intention and opportunity to complete your flies. Signing up for a swap even though you know you'll be away on a 3 week vacation, starting a new job, studying for finals or can't afford tying materials comes under the heading of 'irresponsible' in my book.

Contact the swapmeister as soon as possible if unforseen circumstances require you to drop out. Shit happens and it's OK when/if it forces you to bail out. Just don't wait until the last minute to pull the plug.

Don't ask to postpone the deadline by days or weeks. Those participants who turned their flies in on time shouldn't be penalized by those who blew off the deadline.

Here's a few random thoughts about swap etiquette.

Always include a pre-stamped, self-addressed envelope or label with your flies. What you want to pack them in is your business, but expecting the swapmeister to provide an envelope, address it, AND pay postage out of his pocket is way over the top. BTW, by providing a SSA with the correct postage already attached, there's no need to send Lawless his couple-dollar 'handling fee' as well :-D

Always toe-tag your flies. IMHO, the ideal toe tag is about 3/8" x 2" or 3" - NOT 2" x 4" or 3" x 5". All it needs is your name and the name of your fly. If you want to include tying instructions that's fine, but not everyone has room for a large sheet of paper in the little box and envelope they get back from the swap. It's a better idea to post that information in the Gallery.

Always make sure that the name on your toe tags and on your SSA are the same. I can't tell you what a pain it is to try and match up someone's toe tag showing their screen name with an envelope showing their real name. It doesn't matter to me if you use one or the other or both, but DO try to be consistent.

Aways send one or two (or four or five!) extra flies or variations on your pattern for the Swapmeister as a courtesy for his effort in putting on the swap. It ain't rocket surgery, but dividing up the flies and making sure everyone gets what's coming to them takes some effort and that effort should be rewarded.

Last, most of the swaps I can remember that have gone bad were late-spring/early summer ones. Winter and early spring weather forces most guys to tie flies instead of going out fishing, so chances are a winter swap has a better shot at getting everyone on board by the deadline.


Active Member
Thus far I've joined 6 swaps with 100% satisfaction. For those of you who have been burned I'd give it another shot...plenty of "good-guys/tyers" out there!

Thanks for all of the comments/tips on what makes a 'good' swapmaster...hopefully I don't piss people off with the first one I'm hosting!

"Tube Fly Swap" due this FRIDAY! :thumb


Old Man

Just an Old Man
I also entered that swap. But you know that the main guy in charge kept reminding everybody about the due date. I didn't want any in return but he asked for my addreass and I sent it to him but no flies. I know a few that also entered into it but just didn't feel like doing it. Their Bad.x(

But I've done a few but no more as I now have to many flies to waste in the trees,on the rocks,in fishes lips,in my ear(sloppy casting).

I was in that swap too. I admit I did send mine in late, but at least I sent them. and I haven't heard anything back yet. it was due back in June I think?? what's up Swapmeister. you know who you are come on man... I was pretty excited I was going to get a fly from Old man.