What's the future of

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Krusty, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. Krusty Active Member

    Posts: 850
    Spokane, WA
    Ratings: +506 / 0
    Flyfishing? I'm old, and I've been at this a very long time (not quite as long as Old Man...but long enough) and everytime I hear, or read, about another flyshop closing down, I get very concerned about the slow death of something that's been a big and wonderful part of my life for over half a century. And it's not just caused by the rise of the soul-less big box outfitters. It seems I see fewer and fewer flyfishers every season on the waters I've known for decades. The technology is better than ever, but the sport seems to be faltering.

    Is it it loss of habitat or, possibly, the loss of recreational time available to a population stuck in the rat-race of economic survival. I'd really hate to see flyfishing become the domain of only the affluent on private water.
    dave h likes this.
  2. Itchy Dog Some call me Kirk Werner

    Posts: 3,682
    Doo-vall
    Ratings: +260 / 0
    On most rivers you (speaking collectively) don't notice a lack of fly fisherman. At least most people I know don't see fewer people partaking of it. From a business side of things it definitely seems like the independent shops are going the way of the albatross. What the industry needs is another blockbuster movie. Fly fishing needs Dirty Harry.
    dave h and Derek Young like this.
  3. Flyborg Active Member

    Posts: 2,278
    Kalama, WA
    Ratings: +569 / 0
    You're going to see a lot of shops go the wayside. Shops that build and maintain a successful internet following and/or community will survive. Shops that provide significant services, not just retail sales will survive. And shops that exist in major destinations will stick around. Unfortunately the pie is only so big and yes it's shrunk since ARRTI. You'll see a lot more manufacturers bypassing the shops. That's already happening. The manufacturers see the gleaming, low-hanging fruit of increased profit margins in direct sales and aren't willing to look at the long-term impact it has on an industry that relies heavily on services provided by the brick and mortar retailers.

    The internet has replaced a lot of what fly shops were. Sources of information. River reports. Bug reports. Information is available immediately now, anytime we want. You can get a hundred product reviews via internet community.

    But enjoyment of fly fishing is about a lot more than just information. The shops are an integral and necessary part of that future. I hope that the big guys looking at the changing consumer dynamic in their fucking TPS reports shoot their accountants in the mouths and remind them that the industry is about long term viability, not just short term profits.
    FinLuver and Builder like this.
  4. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,737
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +530 / 0
    Without a doubt the fly fishing business has changed dramatically over the decades. While not as old as some here I have been fly fishing for more than 55 years.

    For the first couple decades of my fly fishing career I knew of a single fly shop (Patricks) between Tacoma and Bellingham. Following the "movie" there was an explosion of interest in fly fishing and a corresponding development of shops to feed that interest. It could hardly be a surprise that the sport was unable to continue recruit that kinds of numbers of new anglers to support all those shops. How many new rods, reels, etc does a angler need before their "buying" slows down. For myself I have not bought a single new rod in 15 years, a single reel and 4 or 5 lines in the that time period but lots of fly tying materials and hooks. Those small ticket items hardly are adequate to keep a fly shop's door open. While I continue to support those specialized small business as much as I can the reality is that my needs (even though I may be fishing more) are such that my annual spending on gear is not what it was 15 or 20 years ago

    Fortunately for the fly shop businesses the huge interest in two handed rods and spey fishing and all the associated specialized needs associated with that method gave the fly shop business a shot in the arm and extended the period the many could stay in business but that too seems to have run its course; or at least new purchases have slowed.

    I agree that the closing of many of those shops are huge loss but as in most things those business are cyclic and those that are likely to survival over the long haul are those that adapt. I do find it a bit interesting that at the start of my fly career my gear came from either a "sport shop" or from a mail order business (mostly Herters) and today it is moving back in that direction with internet business replacing the mail order ones.

    I suspect that my spending patterns are not all that different than many who have been in the game for an extended time.

    Curt
    dfl, Jerry Daschofsky and Steve Call like this.
  5. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,118
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,401 / 0
    It could be that the people that fly fish don't go out because of all the things being stolen out of their vehicles. If I was still in Washington I would be leery of going out. Maybe you all need a car sitter to stop them damn thieves.

    I haven't seen a decline here in Montana. Come opening day here the Blue ribbon streams are crowded. Well the ones that are closed for a few months anyway.
  6. Olive bugger Active Member

    Posts: 2,237
    Woodinville, WA
    Ratings: +350 / 0
    Has anyone considered the burden on the small shop owner?

    The cost of inventory alone must be staggering. Then there is the
    shop itself. It must be in a high visibility area to attract attention.
    Most fly fishing equipment has undergone a technical upgrade.
    Rods that cost a few hundred dollars forty years ago, now run into twice that and more. Fly lines run twice as much as then. Reels are
    a little more competitive but still cost more. And we have not even gotten into the other things like waders, shoes, clothing etc.

    And then there is the tying materials inventory.

    Match that with a shrinking availability of habitat for access and fishing and we have a formula for reduction.

    My take is that fishing in general, appeals to a wide segment of our society. But it is in competition with a lot of other recreational activities. Some do not want to spend the time and money to get involved. Others greet it with a passion and embrace it as such.
    We, here, generally fall into the latter category. A much larger segment fall into the former.

    I believe what we need is a little advertising on TV, with some popular branded item, advertising their product, using a fly fisherman standing in a quiet pool, laying out fifty feet of fly line into the bright summer sunshine, and a bright ROYAL COACHMAN gently settling into a pool. If a 22 inch bow happened to accept the offering, it would not hurt a thing.
  7. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,118
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,401 / 0
    Quit day dreaming.
  8. Olive bugger Active Member

    Posts: 2,237
    Woodinville, WA
    Ratings: +350 / 0
    Visa card did it forty years ago and started the change in flyfishing, IMHO,

    Fellow was using a high end bamboo rod, tied on some bright fly and cast out into the pool. Visa told everybody to come to X place and buy some gear, BUT BRING YOUR VISA CARD BECAUSE THEY DON'T ACCEPT AMERICAN EXPRESS. It worked.

    Look at the current commercial with the guy using a center pin reel. Even started a thread here about it because some dufus didn't even know what it was. (That would be me)
  9. Krusty Active Member

    Posts: 850
    Spokane, WA
    Ratings: +506 / 0
    I'm not talking about a decrease in flyfishing at blueribbon destination waters, I'm referring to my observations at the average kind of places I used to see working class stiffs flyfish. Hell, I don't even see as many bait fisherman out there anymore.

    Maybe it will change when huge numbers of boomers retire (if they ever get to) and have to find something to do on the way to the boneyard.

    I think it's going the way of golf....golf manhours have been decreasing for at least twenty years. The industry has been shitting its pants over it...citing economics (but it was faltering during the boom years too), the lack of appeal to potential new entrants, or the fact that dad really can't spend entire days off with the boys.

    It's similar to hunter manhours per year...though gun sales are astronomical, sporting arm sales have been declining. When I'm out there flyfishing during the start of deer season (fall stillwater is the very best fishing of the year...I hit it hard) I don't see as many hunters as I used to, even though there's shitloads of deer.

    When I was young, buck season filled the woods with tents, campers, and gunshots.

    Maybe it's because there's just so many other things to do nowadays, like bullshitting in internet forums and such.
    weiliwen likes this.
  10. Mark Kulikov Active Member

    Posts: 376
    Polson Montana
    Ratings: +53 / 0
    Amoung the working class, IMHO, the current economy most likely the reason for a decline. Just not enough discretionary income left for the pursuit of pleasure. Interesting, but not surprising, that the sale of sporting firearms is down while firearms sales in general are exploding.
  11. _WW_ Fishes with Wolves

    Posts: 1,823
    Skagit River
    Ratings: +570 / 0
    Could you send me a map to this place?
    Blake Harmon likes this.
  12. the central oregonian Member

    Posts: 43
    Terrebonne, Oregon
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    Tough to say...Living in central Oregon I suppose that many people would consider this place a destination type area....We have lost some fly shops over the last 10yrs, but we have gained a couple also...
    There are a couple fly shops in the area that seem to be doing a lot better then the rest...One of them said its almost unbelievable how well they are doing
    I think the shops that are successful have a large inventory, have a good website and do online sales, and they have really, really good shop guys, people that know the waters, and know how to talk/sell to people.

    We have one shop here that has really decided to go big or go home, huge floor space, huge inventory, they put in a growler bar, and they are a huge seller of traeger's also....

    I think the sport at least here locally will be fine....but long term I think one or two shops will still disappear somewhere along the lines....
  13. Krusty Active Member

    Posts: 850
    Spokane, WA
    Ratings: +506 / 0
    Nice try, bucko. Just get a map of eastern Washington!
  14. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,628
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +532 / 0
    I'd like to think that all the old fly guys who have been dying off or fading away around my area are being replaced by young anglers developing an interest in fly fishing.
    I caught a ray of hope when conversing with some of the young crew that were hanging out at the Westport boat basin, trying to get a Coho to bite, one day last month. One of 'em had a flyrod with him, and a box of trout flies, and one of his buddies claimed that he was also getting into fly fishing, too. So there is hope.
    These young guys seem to view themselves as budding alpha anglers, and want to cover all the bases. They didn't look like big spenders, though.
  15. Danielocean Steelhead Virgin

    Posts: 1,140
    Monroe
    Ratings: +393 / 0
    There are most likely many causes. One cause that I would like to bring up is the fact that each generation seems to be getting lazier, and lazier. I think that it is possible that when someone enjoys fishing, or is going to be entering the hobby of "fishing", they weigh the options out there. I think that most likely 2 out of 10 prospecting anglers decide to choose gear over fly fishing because it is just "easier" to them.
    Brad Nickel likes this.
  16. Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

    Posts: 1,641
    Outer Duvall
    Ratings: +215 / 1
  17. Jerry Daschofsky Moderator

    Posts: 7,563
    Graham, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +564 / 5
    WW, that's A LOT of places. I grew up fly and gear/bait. I've really noticed the downward trend using bait amongst gear guys. Yes, it's still being used but not as often. All the OP (that still allow bait), the Chehalis system, and misc south sound rivers I've seen less and less bait being used. A lot more hardware and jigs being used.
  18. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 3,502
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,116 / 0
    As I'm more or less "in the biz" I've watched the sudden popularity of the sport take off like a rocket after "the movie". Shops and manufacturers of flyfishing products rose proportionally. The move wore off.

    As a result, the sport is reverting back to much as it was during the 70s. A few shops here and there and only a few major manufacturers of flyfishing paraphernalia.

    From my standpoint, this would be a good thing. I watched many flyfishing only fisheries become far too crowded. I was talking with Ted Leeson one day about the popularity of flyfishing and he said he'd gladly give up all the articles and books he's written about the sport to regain the solitude. The popularity did provide a short-lived boom for flyfishing writers but it came at a cost.

    However, all angling has taken a hit in Oregon. Over the years, I can't tell you the number of fishing spots I've lost to No Trespassing signs. Fishing access for anglers has gone steadily downward and I don't see that changing in my lifetime.

    As a result, the remaining areas where we can fish are becoming more and more crowded for all anglers, flyfishing and spin alike.

    Will we end up with a situation similar to England where you pay to fish on private waters? Maybe. But I guess that wouldn't be much different than paying to play golf.

    Over the years, I fish less and less so it won't make much difference to me. I'm in the twilight of my flyfishing years. I've lost most of my fishing buddies to age and all the aliments that come with it. We are all winding down.

    I have no idea what the sport will look like in 20 years. It is unlikely the No Trespassing signs will be taken down. Instead, more will most likely show up. I primarily fish stillwaters these days because the lakes are still open and not really ever over-crowded.

    So while the sport of flyfishing will most likely stabilize as to what it was in the 70s, I have no idea if there will be many rivers you can fish. It doesn't bother me that the popularity of the sport has declined but it sure bothers me that the fishing spots are disappearing more and more each year.
    dryflylarry likes this.
  19. wadin' boot Donny, you're out of your element...

    Posts: 1,919
    Wallingford, WA
    Ratings: +1,313 / 0
    Krusty the trends on fishing, hunting and driving licenses among today's youth are all on the downswing. Not only that but the numbers of young adults willing to relocate for better work prospects is also declining. Kids are living longer with their parents and more often in proportionately more educational debt. I'll go out on a limb here but for multiple reasons, there is a general decline in the willingness of young people to take risks of any sort, let alone standing in a river waving a stick with line on it. Probably some great young board member says Boot that's BS, and for them specifically, it probably is. But let's face it, the kids are interested in other things- their entertainments are cheap, mindless, easily gained, addictive and ubiquitous (and hey I am by no means immune to this). Those same entertainment models do not fit well with fishing, let alone fly fishing.

    Oh and while I'm on the soapbox, if we design an educational system that constantly reinforces the idea that one out of four questions on a multiple choice exam is right, and the other three are wrong, we are enabling generations of incurious dolts. It is amazing to me that this system persists all the way through graduate schools. Any fisherman worth their salt knows that on the right day and the right time dozens of combinations of methods, presentations etc might get fish to strike, and on the next, maybe none of them work. Ie a good fisherman is very comfortable with uncertainty, and tests hypothesis through their entire outing to define the limits of that uncertainty.

    You used to see that curiosity on WFF. Just about every year there'd be some young board member who would post up some ideas about how to make their service project for 12th grade or whatever somehow flyfishing related. I don't think I have seen that thread come up in about four years now. I wonder if the age demographics on this site are shifting to the right...

    I have to say that plenty of times I've been on the water and folks have asked me about flyfishing. I always say the same thing, it's not hard to learn and it's really fun.
    airedale, Jered and dryflylarry like this.
  20. freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Posts: 3,719
    Edgewood, WA
    Ratings: +611 / 1
    It will most likely be exactly that scenario if America continues the current track towards being Euro-America. Besides, who needs to do the real act of fishing and experiencing the wonderful surroundings fish live when you have Facebook, Twitter and all the "app's" a man could want.