4th Annual Virgil Kelleigh Tyathon

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Date(s) - Saturday, Oct 28
9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Colorado Denver

2001 Colorado Blvd.


This year’s competition will focused on one of the primary aquatic insect species in Colorado, the Baetis or Blue-Winged Olive mayfly. Tyers are expected to tie a separate fly for each of the following lifecycle stages:  nymph, emerger, and dun.

Competition Rules

  1. Event begins at 9am with coffee, donuts, and registration.
  2. Tying station prep window begins at 9:30am.
    1. Participants must provide their own equipment and materials to complete the three flies. Any material may be used.
    2. Use caution if applying adhesives and allow flies to completely dry within the competition time limit.
    3. All flies must be completed on a #16 hook for judging continuity.
    4. Any style of hook may be used for the separate lifecycle stages. For example, a participant may elect to use a standard hook for the nymph and dun but use a scud hook for the emerger.
  3. The 60 minute time limit begins at 10am.
    1. The lifecycle stages may be completed in any order the participant chooses.
  4. The competition proctor will collect and tag all flies into an envelope with completion order when a participant has completed their final fly.

Judging Criteria

A guest judge will be in attendance to observe the tyers in action and may ask questions about approach, materials, and technique. Upon completion the guest judge will evaluate each contestant’s finished product on a scale of 1 to 5 (poor to good) based upon the following criteria:

  1. Tying Consistency – does each fly remain consistent to the others in regards to style and quality of tie? Contestants can elect to tie flies with detail anywhere between impressionistic to extremely detailed but must keep a consistent style between all flies. In other words, contestants don’t want to have one fly extremely detailed and others simplistic. The same level of detail must be maintained throughout all flies.
  2. Representation – how well as a collection does each fly represent its lifecycle stage within the contestant’s chosen style of tying consistency?
  3. Lifecycle Comprehensiveness – do all three flies combined reflect a good representation of a Baetis lifecycle? Consistent elements such as abdomen and thorax proportions, tail length, and color or patterns should be seen in all flies.

The contestant with the highest guest judge score will be the first place winner. All remaining submissions will be presented for a popular vote by the HPD club members at the November meeting and the group of flies with the highest number of votes will be the second place winner. In the case of a tie score for either the first or second place winner, the tie-breaker will be determined by which contestant finished first.


Research and practice will be key for successful participants. Unlike in years past where the rules were largely unknown to the participants until the day of the event, this year we are giving participants an opportunity to be prepared for the contest. One of the benefits to fly tying is a deeper understanding of aquatic insects. This year’s contest is geared towards that element of tying. Participants are strongly encouraged to research the Beatis itself and the variety of fly patterns that have been developed to mimic the natural. Participants should also feel free to experiment and modify classic patterns to meet the judging criteria of this contest. With a 60 minute time limit, participants should practice to ensure they have enough time to complete their ties and to strategize their tying sequence and station organization. But above all, participants need to have fun. It’s quite possible the newest, hottest fly pattern will be discovered through this competition.

Museum Entrance

Participants can begin arriving at 8:30am. Use the Subpost entrance located near the flagpole on the north side of the museum. The event will be held in Africa Station on the third floor in the west wing next to the cheetah diorama.


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